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What is SEO Over-optimization? Does it Get Your Blog Penalized?

Is there such a thing as “too much” or “too good to be true” ?

over optimizationOverdoing something or trying too hard is simply in our greedy nature, and it’s not news for the Search Engine Optimization community. Finding out how a concept works inevitably makes some people think that they need to explore its boundaries to the maximum extent, often leading to causing harm to others which were not so overly enthusiastic to begin with. This is exactly what happened several times in the SEO world, with the first times around the early 2000s and the more recent occasions – the Penguin and Panda updates. 

But how can there be “over-optimization”?

The idea behind over-optimization can be explained with this simple analogy – imagine you’re looking for an air conditioner, and wherever you look, the cheapest come at around $300 . Suddenly , you find a place where they offer a $150 air conditioner with free installation costs, but when you actually call that company, it turns out they actually sell ovens, and no air conditioners. That is simply misleading , and stupid.

But in fact, that’s what happens when there’s an over-optimized site – you find it first in searches for certain keywords, but the information offered is far from perfect. It has just been over-optimized to the point where it would be shown first, regardless of the low quality of its content.

And as Google have found , that has a negative impact on their site’s purpose, and a negative impact on the community as a whole.  With several algorithm updates, Google is now able to determine whether something “looks too good to be true”, and those sites are then flagged for custom review. If found out that they’re not as high quality as they’ve tricked the search engine to believe, they’re penalized and sent into the oblivion of search engine results.

How much is “too much” and what gets you penalized?

When talking about over-optimization it’s always good to mention over-optimized anchor texts.

You see, the easiest way to know if a link is natural or not is to take a look at the anchor text. What does it read ? Is it too long ? What about keywords – just one or a whole myriad of them ?

Let’s make a quick example – if I were to place a link to another website which is useful and provides, let’s say, handy conversion tools in general, I’d likely put “Conversion Tools” in the anchor text, or even “Useful Conversion tools”. Now , if I were adding the link for SEO purposes, it would probably look something like “batch video converter .avi to mp4”. Notice anything strange ?

First off, the second option is too specific, too long, and not that useful to most of the hypothetical visitors of my blog, whereas the first one is straight to the point.

Secondly, let’s take into account the fact that my first link’s anchortext contains only a short, single keyword, which is more likely to be put by someone who makes organic, natural content.

There are many more examples one can give, like using keyword anchortexts instead of using raw URLs in pages where such a thing isn’t necessary for the readers, or stuffing links which could otherwise say “click here” with keywords.

In short, if you want to prevent being penalized for over-optimization, keyword stuffing anchortexts is your enemy! 

Doing good optimization , but failing to deliver correspondingly good content is also a sign that you’ve over-optimized. If  I were to name this article the way I’ve named it now, but not include any relevant information,  that would be problematic.

Preventing Over-Optimization Penalties:

If what we’ve said earlier doesn’t seem obvious enough, we’ll try to compile a list of things to or not to do in order to prevent over-optimizing:

  • Use less keyword-specific anchortext for your links, or try to introduce more non-specific and organic links.
  • Try to get links only from sites relevant to your blog’s niche, or from similar niches.
  • Avoid links from gambling or adult sites like the plague.

Preventing over-optimization is crucial to your site’s SEO campaign, and will keep your positions higher instead of lower. So don’t hesitate removing some links if you have to.


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