What is Over-Optimization?
First, is it even possible to over-optimize a website?
Absolutely! But not in the trying-to-make-everything-supER-DUPER-PERfect sense. We’re talkin’: TOO-much-focus-on-SEO-hacks-to-appease-search-engines-more-than-your-audience, sense! There’s a huge difference between the two. Not only will your audience notice that something doesn’t flow, so will the search engines! In fact, trying to appease search engines can land you hot water and ultimately, end up harming site rankings.
Below you’ll find seven tips on what not to do to help avoid over-optimization in the first place.
Keyword Stuffing is Spammy
UGH! Keywords! Gotta love ’em though, right?! RIGHT!?! Search engines do, but NOT when used to the point of sounding forced and unnatural! And guess what? They can tell the difference!
Keyword stuffing (AKA: Randomly Repeated Words) happens when you focus too much on a keyword and use it to the point of sounding like a broken record in the hope of ranking better for that word in search engine results. No matter what, avoid the overuse of focus keyword in your pages and posts. Search engine bots WILL eventually notice and penalize/ding your site. Why? Because to search engines, keyword stuffing = SPAM.
Unfortunately, misconceptions STILL abound on ways to “work around” keyword stuffing. Super bad idea! Back in 2012 Google’s algorithm was improved with 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 search rankings.
Solution: Simply don’t do it! Write with authenticity and intent!
Why Would Non-Relevant Keywords Ever Be Used? WHY?!
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 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.
Avoid Building Backlinks Too Fast
Getting backlinks = amazing! However, they can become problematic when you gain multiple ones over a short period, or 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. that amount 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 site, it’s set off a “red flag.”
In general, legit backlinks help Google to 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 and presence is something that cannot happen overnight. Being patient, updating and consistently sharing quality content on your site is key. 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? CHECK!
Not Keeping it Natural 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 is to make sure to link more to your sub-level pages vs. top-level (main pages). Why? Because search engine bots need help finding the content on your site that exists deep within in. Top-level pages can be quickly indexed, but sub-level pages, not so much.
A popular anchor text (SEO) technique is to make sure that you’re linking more to your sub-level pages vs. top-levels (main pages). Why? Because search engine bots need help with 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 way to help boost SEO with anchor text is to ensure the text 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/ding “forced” anchor text.
Another tip: avoid using keywords in 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”) — “Sports drinks are becoming more popular every year. Some of the best sports drinks are used by professional athletes. With the growing variety of sports drink brands, it will be tough to never run out of flavors to try!”
→ Do something like this instead:
(focus keyword is still “sports drink”) — “Sports drinks are becoming more popular every year, and some of the best are used by professional athletes. 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 within 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 how to avoid link schemes.
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 make is that a majority 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.
Multiple H1 Headers = No Good
Throughout school, we all learned about essay structure, flow, etc. It still matters! However, we can throw out the 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 important 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.
Avoid Non-branded, Keyword-dense URLs
When picking a website name, make sure that it’s something memorable, and can be easily remembered and written/typed. Creating an easy-to-use domain name may sound obvious, but a lot of 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 long, complicated domain names can be “flagged” as over-optimized by search engines and hurt the site’s ranking.
Remember: Keep it short and simple (KISS).
Until Next Time!
That’s it for over-optimization (for now)! Stay tuned for additional UGH! Media blog posts and join our mailing list to receive future updates! We share a new blog every other Monday on helpful tips and how-tos that help you to connect the dots within digital optimization → Social Media | SEO | Optimizing Websites
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