Google Secrets Revealed By Ex-Google Employee

by Chris Horton

Andre WeyherEvery now and then we get exciting news from behind the Google curtain and whenever we can get a clearer picture as to what Google’s expectations are, the better it makes our lives. Ex-Google web spam team member Andre Weyher provided some of the secret sauce with James Norquay and here are some pretty major takeaways.

Don’t keyword stuff or use “commercial keyword” hyperlinks freely.

It’s pretty common to litter your verbiage with hyperlinks using competitive keywords and keyword phrases like ‘car insurance’ or ‘wood furniture’ which he refers to as commercial keywords. Andre says to not do that and keep it to a minimum. “If 90% of the anchor texts on your backlinks are commercial keywords, it’s a dead giveaway of a spammy profile, especially if the links run in to the tens of thousands. This would never occur naturally. So ensure you have non-commercial keywords anchor texts in there too – like the url of the website and long tail keywords.”

Should you waste your time getting listed in these directories like DMOZ?

The short is answer is yes and no, but he does insinuate that it would be in your best interest to get involved with directories that cater to your niche. So if you’re a car dealership, get listed in a directory that is specific to dealerships or the brand of car you sell. As for general purpose directories, he does give some love to the directory list at SEOMoz as “good and up to date.” We agree.

Meta tag keywords

The return of meta tag keywords?!

Of the most surprising revelations he shared was that Google does indeed read meta tag keywords. While it will not help you in regards to ranking, he says that it does help Google get a clearer picture of what your site is about. But he also cautions to the overuse of it saying that less is way more.

You shouldn’t overdo it. I see a lot of sites with a huge amount of them in the META data. Webmasters need to remember that the more of them you have, the less each one of them is worth! The less of them you put in your META data, the more powerful each one of them becomes. They might not make a difference in the battle for the #1 position for the keyword “cola” between Pepsi and Coke, but they might give a head start to the bakery around the corner, competing for the keyword ‘bakery in Brooklyn’.

What things would get your site labeled as spam by Google?

Keyword stuffing (using the same keywords way too many times and unnaturally) such as “We are an Atlanta furniture store selling furniture in Atlanta. Come find furnishings for your Atlanta home. Visit our furniture store today right here in Atlanta.”  Other indicators would be the above mentioned over-usage of commercial keywords which he says come across as unnatural. And as for linking, he says, “How many links are there in total? A very important one; what is the quality of the pages they come in from? Do the pages look ‘real’ or are they just there to host the links? What anchors are used? The commercial vs. non commercial ratio of the anchors.”

The number he threw out in the interview was 90%.  If 90% of the hyperlinks present on your site are commercial keywords, it may be a good idea to pull back.  You know which ones you set up for specific SEO reasons. Fix it.

Can't hide spam.

What are the three most important on-page SEO elements?
The domain name. Usage of the proper tags (titles, descriptions, headers), and lastly create content as if SEO was your least concern. Google is looking for passionate content that contains good information. All of which we addressed in our first online video for our 3 part basic SEO series.

 What are the three most important off-page tactics?

Don’t ignore directories (see above bullet). Realize that 3 links from sites relevant to yours are worth more than 1000 from spammy blogs and sites that have nothing to do with your industry. Google judges your link profile based on who is linking to you, so be careful.

There were tons more to read, but we’ll let you pick out the remaining gems yourself and give Norquay some love. Start with part one of his interview here at and also Part 2 here. Additionally, you can follow Andre’s adventures on his new blog at and also utilize his awesome toolset that lets you uncover hidden relationships of site owners at the root


Best SEO Organizations

Of all of the SEO organizations out there that you could become a member of, there are dozens and dozens and some of them are VERY expensive. I’ve personally been a member of the ones that cost $800 a month and some that are even $47 a YEAR. That’s a big difference in pricing and you get about the same level of information. Here are the ones that you simply MUST be a member of to stay in touch with the latest in the SEO world;

SEOMoz (
Cost: Varies. The pro level can be acquired for only $79 per year and that’s ridiculously cheap for what you get.
What You Get: Tons of tools like Linkscape, Ranking tools, a couple questions a month answered directly from an SEO professional, updates, monthly online meetings walking you through handling things like social media and other hot topics, free invites to networking sessions all over the world (mostly U.S.) and tons more.

SearchEngineLand (
Cost: $149 per year for premium membership (WELL worth it)
What you get: Well most importantly, if you plan to attend an SMX conference in the coming year, you’ll get your money back immediately plus some. By far, the best and most informative SEO conference you will ever, ever go to. Typically takes place in Seattle, New York, London, and other places. The site is extremely user friendly and is updated very frequently meaning multiple times daily. Lots of great news like search engine changes, scams, etc. This one is at the top of my list and one of my favorites.

SearchEngineNews (
Cost: 6 months for a measly $97 or a year for $144
What you get: A monthly newsletter that talks about current changes that are going on with the search engines. I’d hold off on this one until you get more comfortable with what you’re doing and get everything in place. Once you do, then try this out. They also provide the top 10 directories to submit to, top article places, etc. So try it for 6 months and if it works for you, great.

WebProNews (
Cost: Free
What you get: While there are some paid avenues you can tread down, most of the information supplied is ad-supported and there’s a lot of it. Their emails alone contain a ridiculous amount of up to date SEO information. It’s worth your time and may actually give you too much, which is this side of awesome.