Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
What is SEO Over Optimization?
First, is SEO over optimization even possible?
Absolutely! But not in the trying-to-make-everything-supER-DUPER-PERfect sense. We’re talking in the TOO-much-focus-on-SEO-doesn’t-appease-to-search-engines-or-your-audience sense
Now, there’s a vast difference between regular SEO and over-optimizing SEO
Believe it or not, when you over-optimize, it’s obvious! Content doesn’t flow, and the wording lacks substance. Not only that, but your audience will notice. Even if they don’t know what’s exactly amiss. Plus, search engines notice high bounce rates, and bots are programmed to flag many over-optimization tactics.
Below you’ll find seven tips on what not to do to help avoid over-optimization in the first place.
1. Keyword Stuffing is Spammy
UGH! Keywords! Gotta love ’em, though, right?! RIGHT!?! Search engines seem to, but NOT when used to the point of sounding forced and unnatural! And guess what? They can tell the difference!
Keyword stuffing happens when you focus too much on a keyword and use it to the point of sounding like a broken record in hopes of ranking better for a key phrase in search results. No matter what, avoid the overuse of focus keyword(s) in your pages and posts. Search engine bots WILL eventually notice and penalize/ding your site. Why? Because to search engines, keyword stuffing = SPAM.
Keyword Stuffing Can Be Flagged
Unfortunately, misconceptions STILL abound on ways to “workaround” keyword stuffing. Bad idea! Back in 2012, Google’s algorithm began to include a webspam update that flags keyword stuffing. There have been other updates since.
In summary, Keyword Stuffing reduces the quality of your content and makes it difficult to digest. Plus, it DOESN’T help to optimize search results!
Solution: don’t do it! Write with authenticity and intent!
2. Non-relevant Keywords
Why Would Non-Relevant Keywords Ever Be Used? Why? WHY?!
No clue! However, as you wander through the magical land of keyword research tools, you’ll sometimes encounter the “magical unicorn” of keywords because it has 1-10 million
glittery searches per month!
You write about high-tech cooking appliances, and this keyword deals with motorized SHOES. Should you find a way to incorporate it into your blog? NO! No.
(unless they sync with all those high-tech appliances and can help make dinner)
Ultimately, stick to keywords related to your niche. Google keeps track of keywords used across entire sites, and if there are too many non-related topics, it can weaken site rankings.
3. Building Backlinks “Too Fast” = Over Optimization Issue
If you are getting legit backlinks, then that is awesome! However, backlinks can become problematic when you gain too many over a short period or if they come from websites that have nothing in common with your site.
For example, it looks suspicious to Google when a site that had 2 or 3 backlinks one day, SUDDENLY doubles, triples, quadruples, etc., in a few days. In general, sites have an average number of backlinks that they’ve received over time. When a massive amount of inorganic backlinks appear on a website, it’s set off a “red flag.”
In general, legit backlinks help Google verify and categorize real sites from the “spammy” ones. If your site is on the legit side, backlinks assist in strengthening a site’s ranking.
So what can you learn from this? Building an organic presence takes time!
Creating a legitimate site, appearance, and online presence is just something that doesn’t happen overnight. Growing a website takes a lot of dedication, time, and effort! However, if your quality content targets the right audience, and they love it, the organic backlinks will happen on their own!
One less thing to worry over (other than over-optimization)? CHECK!
4. NOT Keeping it Natural and Over-Optimizing
Don’t try to over-optimize your keyword distribution, especially when adding anchor text to links!
Anchor text is the “highlighted” text that hyperlinks visitors to internal (or external) pages. Ultimately, as we all know, the goal of any website is to keep visitors — visiting; anchor text helps with that.
A popular anchor text (SEO) technique ensures that you’re linking more to your sub-level pages vs. top-levels (main pages). Why? Because search engine bots need help finding content on your site, especially with pages/posts that exist deep within. Remember this: top-level pages can be quickly indexed, but sub-level pages, not so much.
Another Anchor Text Optimization Tip
Another way to help boost search engine optimization with anchor text is to ensure that the context aligns with BOTH the topic at hand (or something closely related) and the hyperlinked page. It’s imperative to keep anchor text sounding natural vs. forced because search engine bots will detect “forced” anchor text.
Tip: avoid using keywords in the anchor text, period. It might not be visible to your audience, but the search engines will notice. Hence, the examples below!
→ An example of what NOT to do (note: the below underlined “hyperlinks” aren’t real):
(Assume your focus keyword is “sports drink”) — “[Insert focus keyword] is becoming more popular every year. Professional athletes use some of the best [insert keyword examples]. With the growing variety of [insert keyword] brands, it will be tough to never run out of flavors to try!”
→ Try something like this instead:
(assume the focus keyword is still “sports drink”) — “[Insert focus keyword] is becoming more popular every year, and professional athletes use some of the best. With the growing variety of sports drink brands, it’ll be tough to never run out of flavors to try!”
See the difference?
In summary, anchor text should add VALUE to your website. Include it in a sentence to avoid impeding the flow of your message. If you want more info on keyword stuffing and some other guidelines, here’s an article where Google goes into depth on avoiding link schemes.
5. Do a majority of your internal (or external) links point to top-level pages only?
As you write blog posts and create new pages, you should be adding links that lead to other (not-so-obvious) parts of your website. A frequent mistake that we see on many sites is that most of their links point to main (top-level) pages and not sub-level pages.
Why is this a problem?
First, think about what you do after clicking a link, and it leads you to the main page vs. what you were expecting. You’ll most likely either leave or possibly search for what you thought would be there in the first place. (Most likely the former)
Secondly, single pages that contain a lot of info and cover various topics are hard to follow! Break that info down!
Thirdly, search engines love sub-level pages because it shows that your site has depth and structure, but most importantly, lots of helpful info for visitors! Plus, a website with a set structure is just easier to navigate. Sub-level pages + internal linking = ideal for visitor navigation and optimizing SEO!
In summary, try to set up a site structure where main (parent) pages provide general overviews, and the sub-level (child) pages are more detailed oriented. Doing so will help to make the info on your site more organized, digestible, AND shareable.
6. Multiple H1 Headers = No Good
Throughout school, we all learned about essay structure, flow, etc. It still matters! However, we can throw out cursive writing and super formal essays. (See what I did there?) Anyway, the same thing needs to happen on web pages and blogs! Headers are an essential part of writing on a website, and utilizing them is a must (not only for SEO purposes but to make your content flow)! To summarize:
- H1 headers are for the main topic of a page and should never be used more than once.
- H2 headers are for the sections of the H1 main topic.
- H3 can further break down the parts of H2 and so on.
7. Avoid Non-branded, Keyword-dense URLs
When picking a website name, make sure that it’s something memorable/easily remembered and easily written/typed. Creating an easy-to-use domain name may sound obvious, but many sites over-complicate their domain name for one reason or another. Not only does it make it more difficult for customers to find your site, but lengthy, complicated domain names can lead to an over-optimization penalty.
Remember: Keep it short and simple (KISS).
Until Next Time!
So there you have it, a few quick ways to avoid SEO over-optimization on your website in a jiffy! If you’re looking for more website optimization tips, check out these posts:
- How to fix duplicate content issues
- Different types of SEO and how to use them
- SEO Myths to avoid
- Why you need a CDN for your site
In the meantime, stay tuned for additional UGH! Media blog posts!