Have you ever heard of over optimization? If not, here’s our #1 tip: don’t ever do it. It’s a very real part of search engine optimization (SEO) and unfortunately it can happen even to the most beautifully designed business website if you’re not careful!
We even talked about it slightly in our previous blog post, “How to Improve the Imagery on Your Business’s Website“. It’s such an impactful mistake, however, that we felt it would be best to talk about it in greater detail. Here’s what you need to know about over optimization and how it can impact your business’s website in all the wrong ways.
What is Over Optimization?
At its core, over optimization is the process of adding too many SEO improvements to a website in order to make sure it ranks more highly on search engines. While there is nothing wrong with applying improvements if needed, it’s going overboard with those improvements where trouble can arise.
Some examples of over optimization include the following:
- Keyword stuffing. This is a classic faux pas when it comes to SEO in general, and it’s a sure way to inform Google and other search engines that you’re over optimizing your business’s website. This action entails using a certain keyword multiple times in the course of a single paragraph, rather than use variations of said keyword (aka, what we call synonyms).
- Non-relevant keyword usage. You shouldn’t ever try to rank for a keyword that’s completely unrelated to the subject matter you’re talking about, whether it’s on a web page you want people to find or a blog post you’ve written. Doing this weakens the strength of the site itself on SERPs.
- Writing content specifically for bots and search engines. This is one of the most obvious examples because it makes it very clear to the humans (aka, your customers) reading the page that you don’t care about what they think, only what you want search engines to think…meanwhile, search engines (aka, built by humans) are ranking a site based on how natural the language sounds. So if your content sounds too robotic and unnatural, it won’t do well in terms of ranking on SERPs either.
- Backlinking too fast. While backlinking is technically a good practice, building up way too many backlinks too fast makes you look suspicious to search engines. It’s best to slowly build up quality backlinks as opposed to entering a large quantity of poor ones all at once.
For more examples of suspicious-looking SEO tactics, you can refer to our list in our previous blog post, “The Unfiltered List of Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO Practices.”
Why is This a Bad Thing?
The irony of this course of action is that by over optimizing a website, you’re undoing all of the hard work you’re putting into the organic side of SEO, which is essentially meant to appeal to humans—aka the very people you want your business website to be found by. Rather than create white-hat SEO that appeals to everyone, search engines and real people, you’re instead appealing only to the robots which are not exactly perfect at their job.
A robot will point out to you that your more decorative imagery and your non-essential website elements need the same SEO that a web page of text needs. However, that’s not the case at all, and so by applying SEO to these non-essentials, you’re thereby confusing the search engine to the point where they’ll give up on ranking the page and instead swerve their focus elsewhere.
How Do I Know My Business’s Website is Over Optimized?
A very simple way is to reread your own website’s content—does it read like it was made for robots or for people like yourself? Here’s an example of a piece of content that’s over optimized:
“Come to XYZ, bicycle shop Calgary AB. Our bicycle shop Calgary AB is great! You can find tires at our bicycle shop Calgary AB.”
Another big sign is using way, way too many internal links that use the exact keyword in the anchor text. Internal links are good, and if the anchor is the exact URL, that’s also fine. However, too many exact placements of internal links in one page is bad. Here’s another example:
“We sell amazing bicycle accessories at our bicycle shop Calgary AB”. (The link in question: example.com/amazing-bicycle-accessories).
Sometimes the footer itself is keyword-stuffed and link-stuffed. It’s worth noting that your website footer is not the place for your site map, nor is it that. The footer is a simple, navigable closure to each of your site’s web pages, so it should be considered as such and not a dumping ground for keywords.
Another obvious sign to consider is how your website uses non-relevant keywords—i.e. keywords that have nothing to do with your company. If you can’t remember in the first place why those keywords were put there, chances are that’s why your rank has lowered on SERPs.
What Can I Do to Fix This or Avoid It?
Having said all of this, SEO is still a valuable part of any business website. It’s what helps you be recognized by search engines and ensures that you’re found by people online. When you focus so much on the technical side of SEO, however, that’s when you need to pull back on all of the improvements.
Fixating on SEO alone is not healthy for your website’s success. What’s healthier is to focus on content marketing–create awesome content that has a good, healthy amount of SEO. There’s only so much tinkering you can do with the nuts and bolts of a website. Get content created that’s valuable to your human customers and consisting of white hat SEO. Your site—maybe even your customers—will thank you for it.
If you need help with your website’s overall design, SEO, and content, or you’d rather get a new website built that applies white hat SEO from the get-go, you can’t go wrong with hiring V3 Media. Our agency has been building sites and ensuring proper optimization for over 3 decades. Give us a call if you’d like to get your new site up and running.