The days of keyword stuffing to increase your ranking are long gone. Google got smarter and more intuitive; it’s not so easy to try to game the system and cheat your way to the top.
With that in mind, you must understand how to optimize your website correctly, without over-optimizing and getting penalized.
You 100% should be optimizing your website, but too many SEO improvements can hinder your ability to rank. It may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s true—too much of a good thing can equal a bad thing and that rings true in the world of SEO, too.
We’re going to discuss the signs that your site may be over-optimized and what you can do to remedy it to not only avoid Google penalties but to also help boost your rankings.
Signs That Your Website is Over-Optimized
Most people today know that keyword stuffing is a no-no, but there’s more to over-optimization than that. Today, there’s a whole list of SEO tactics that, if not done properly, can lead to an excessively optimized site.
Here are the aspects of your site to keep in check to avoid a penalty:
1. Too High Keyword Density
If you ask around, you’ll probably hear that your keyword density, or how many times your keyword(s) appears in your content, should be anywhere from 1-3%. So, if you have about 1,000 words on a page a 1% density would be using your keyword 10 times throughout and a 3% would be 30 times.
Now, I’m going to go ahead and say that first, keyword density is a myth. Sure, you can use it as a guideline, but it’s more about WHERE your keywords are placed than how many times.
And for the record, I would never utilize a 3% keyword density. You risk sounding super spammy and Google won’t like it. In fact, I’ve de-optimized web pages, taking out excess keyword usage and witnessed the ranking for that page instantly increase, which solidifies the fact that keyword stuffing is a certain NO in the online world now.
2. Irrelevant Keyword Usage
As a way to increase traffic and therefore increase SERP rankings, some people will try to gain traffic for non-relevant keywords.
For example, they may stick high search volume keywords that are completely irrelevant to the site within the content to try to gain traffic from them. Obviously, you wouldn’t convert on any of that traffic.
As the Google bot crawls and indexes your site, it takes into consideration all the keywords that you use across your entire site and then determines your rank for relevant queries. If you have unrelated content, it will take away from the overall strength of your site.
You must focus only on your particular niche. There are plenty of topics and sub-categories to focus on within each and every niche out there, no need to go mixing in other, unrelated topics.
2. Too Much Exact-Match Anchor Text
Interlinking is an awesome SEO tool, no doubt about that. The problem is, when you use too many exact match anchor text in your content, you’re setting yourself up for an over-optimized website mess.
Yes, an exact match anchor here and there is ok, even good as it can increase your SEO. But there is definitely such thing as too much.
Here’s an example of an exact match anchor:
Check out our awesome blog posting service
(links to: example.com/awesome-blog-posting-service/)
Do you see? The anchor text is the exact same string of words as the URL. You can do this, but do it very sparingly.
A better option would be to spread your anchor text across a sentence fragment like “Blog posting is a service that provides awesome SEO benefits.” My keywords are still in there, but they’re diluted by spreading them out across the sentence.
3. Using More Than One H1 Tag
The H1 header is meant to identify your page’s MAIN heading. There should only be one main heading—there’s plenty of other H-tags to use for your sub-headings.
Using more than one H1 tag on a page is over-optimization, don’t do it.
Go ahead and go crazy with your H2s, H3s, H4s, etc., but just stick to one H1.
4. Keyword Stuffed Footer
Your website footer is another area to check for website over-optimization. Your footer should be designed with the user in mind—it should be a nice closure to your page not a place to stuff in last-minute keywords.
Footers receive minimal crawler recognition because of their position so don’t waste your time trying to increase your ranking by adding in keywords to the footer, it’s a recipe for over-optimization.
5. Linking to Only Top-Level Navigation Pages
The last place I recommend checking for over-optimized website pages is in your links. A healthy link profile has links that point to the home page AND deep internal pages.
An over-optimized webpage has a ton of links that go only to the homepage or other top-level pages like the services page or contact us. Mix it up by pointing some of your inner links to deep internal pages and blog posts.
Time to De-Optimize!
It’s easy to overdo it with SEO techniques, and what you might not realize is that it’s hurting you rather than helping you. Now that you know what to look for, take some time to comb through your website and see if there are any red flags and then work to fix them.
Don’t have time? We offer comprehensive website auditing services that will tell you exactly where your content stands and what improvements can be made to help increase your SEO and conversions as well as avoid over-optimization penalties.