Is it possible to “over-optimize” your website? How can you avoid it?

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We have all heard the expression “less is more” and this rings true when it comes to optimizing your PPC account. Of course, SEO is important to any business but too much SEO can actually harm your progress and lead to “over-optimization” 

Search Engine optimization is the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to your website through organic search results. SEO is about making your search engine relevant to users. Over-optimization can actually decrease your traffic due to new Google regulations that penalize over-optimized content. Focusing on the search engine and not the users is the easiest way to fall into the “over-optimization” trap. 

Are you guilty of over-optimization? 

Non relevant keywords: Keywords are important for any business website, yet flooding the website with keywords that are not related to the topic is not going to increase conversion rates. Too much emphasis on SEO can lower the quality of the content and increase bounce rates. It is important to focus on the sales and the leads and not rankings only. Google has worked on a penalty specifically for over-optimization in order to give sites that have great content a better shot at ranking above sites that have content that is not as great but do a better job with SEO. 

Too much links: sometimes a link or two on a blog post is beneficial for websites. You can either link to another one of your posts or use it for an e-commerce opportunity. However, posts that have too much links can actually be confusing for the reader and will eventually lead users away from your site. Another issue with links are their relevancy. Whenever you choose to post a link you should monitor it and decide if it’s still relevant or available. Sometimes owners might delete their post that you have linked this will be an issue if someone were to click on it and find it broken. 

Choosing a non-branded URL: Some sites choose to use a key-word stuffed URL instead of an organic brand name. This actually damages company credibility and leads to overoptimization. Ultimately a site’s URL does not have a huge impact on the ranking. You should not use dynamically generated URLs and customize them to provide full comprehension of your content and target. 

How can you avoid over-optimization? 

Realizing you have over-optimized your site is the first step towards fixing this issue. You can find yourself penalized by Google if the content is heavily targeted towards getting the higher ranking than producing high quality content. It is easy to start giving a more organic content to your site by preparing a simple “de-optimization” plan. By finding the keywords that are irrelevant and replacing them with meaningful content that could benefit the user. Users should also be referred to relevant and beneficial content, so you should redirect the outdated content towards newer, more useful ones. Avoid overoptimized anchor text. If you are linking internally or externally to a resource, the anchor text used should make sense. After you re-optimize your site you can make sure it stays SEO friendly by making a checklist before each post. Focus on having a keyword density that is under 3% for the focus keyword; under 5% for all keywords. This will guarantee a focus on the value of the content and by doing so engaging the user and limiting bounce rates. This newly optimized content should be republished to ensure repeated exposure.