Avoid Over Optimizing Your Website To Maintain High Search Rankings
Yes, it is possible to over optimize your website. Too much of a good thing can get you in trouble with Google, and impact your search rankings in a big way. In this episode we answer the question “what is over optimization”, and break down some of the tactics and strategies you can use identify and avoid over optimizing your website.
- How is it possible to over optimize your website?
- What it means to be over optimized on your website
- What is keyword stuffing
- How keyword stuffing can lead to website over optimization
- Developing your web pages for “user intent” and not just focusing on keywords
- How to fix and reformat an over optimized web page
- Mixing in keyword variations on your page to make it SEO friendly and user friendly
- Methods of reviewing your page to determine if it’s too focused on specific keywords
- Google knows if you are writing your pages for rankings and not for humans to read
- Quality content and clear communications can get your pages ranked
- Consider the “user intent” on what your page is communicating
Thanks for Listening!
Here is a preview of the transcription from Episode 18 What Is Over Optimization and How To Avoid Over Optimizing Your Website;
Jesse: Hey everyone, welcome back to Local SEO Tactics. Jesse Dolan, joined by Bob Brennan, as usual.
Jesse: And this week, we’re gonna talk about over-optimization. If you’re trying to do some SEO on your website, it’s tempting to optimize the heck out of everything. Search Engine Optimization, optimization is right in there as the third word in that acronym, right? But you can overdo it. Yes, you can have too much of a good thing, so today we’re gonna break down just a few of the guidelines that you want to abide by, a few of the things you want to avoid, and just how to know if you’re over-optimizing and what all this means.
Jesse: So the first question is, “What does it mean to be over-optimized?” We’re gonna break that down and talk about a few things that, if you’re doing this, you’re gonna be in danger. The first thing is keyword stuffing. In a few of our episodes, we’ve talked about where you want to use keywords to optimize your website, and you still want to do that, you still want to optimize your website. Optimization is not leaving SEO. But you can do it too much, so keyword stuffing is probably the most classic example of what you don’t want to do. If your phrase is, let’s just say “plumber”, we use plumbing as an example a lot, you don’t want to use “plumber” 17 times on your page.
Jesse: There’s a lot of tools you can just google out there for, SEO Audit, things like that. You can use our tool on our website to do it, free SEO audit as well on your website or your webpage. But a lot of these give you a keyword density or how many times you’re using certain keywords. Really at the end of the day, a good rule of thumb is, if you’ve already communicated to Google what this page is about by your keyword, you don’t need to just cram it down their throat. They’re gonna see that as being spammy.
Jesse: Some tactics for that would be using your keyword in the page title, the page meta description, your H1, your H2, your H3, just repeating it over and over in every single spot, particularly with absolutely no variations anywhere. Every image including it, every alt tag an image including. Links on the page that are linking to other pages for your anchor text including it. That’s just overdoing it, that’s not realistic. If you’re Google, it’s looking like the page was obviously over-optimized for that keyword. It’s not gonna be a user-friendly page. If you’re a human being reading this page, you kinda know after that first headline and some of the first paragraphs or two, or some of the first bullet points.
Bob: And that’s really Google’s algorithm has, is basically, you can get by with all of that over, let’s say the last two or three years or whatever the case is. But like you were telling me with their artificial intelligence, it can detect that, and it needs to read properly, and play out properly. And if it doesn’t, and it’s all jammed, then it’s gonna go backwards.
Jesse: Yeah. Going back a number of years, you could do tricks. Like at the very bottom of your page, you just stuff a bunch of keywords in there or variations on your keyword in there, and some people would even, like you have a white page background, they would put them at the very bottom and then make that text white so it’d blend in. And as a user, you wouldn’t see that, but it would still show up as text on there. There was things like that that were done just to game Google, but at the end of the day, they’re not good for user experience, and that’s what Bob’s talking about is, the algorithms are starting to take into account not only what’s a spammy tactic, where you really try to be too aggressive, but they’re also really looking at now, user intent. What was the intent of this search? And the user experience.
Jesse: We know as humans, just like Google now knows, if you’re just mashing that keyword all over the place, it doesn’t read good. That’s not good content, if you just say “Awesome plumber, emergency plumber, best plumber in town.” You don’t need to keep repeating that same word over and over. So if you have a page right now that’s over-optimized, in your opinion, you don’t have to be alarmed. You can actually reformat that page. Something that’s pretty easy to do, so you don’t have to completely trash the page and start over, which would be horrible, especially if that page has any kind of rank in the index.
Bob: That’s a lot of work.
Jesse: Yeah, you don’t want to recreate that if you don’t have to. Just change some of that out. You can go in there, and if you’ve got your keyword in every title tag, headline, everything else, put some variations in there. If you’re talking plumber, “plumbing service”, “best drain unclogger in town”, or whatever it is. You can come up with variations and not have to completely rewrite the crux of your entire page. But just de-tune it. Quit repeating that keyword over and over and over. Don’t get me wrong, don’t get me wrong, you wanna have your keyword in the page title, in the description, your H1 tag, you still want to use it in those various places. But there’s a fine line of abusing it and over-optimizing.
Jesse: So we’re not saying that these keywords don’t matter. To the contrary. You just have to think about it, kind of that intent of the search engine, crawling bot, and the users that, “Did you already communicate this?” If you’re telling a story to somebody, or maybe teaching somebody a lesson or whatever it is, if you say that same phrase over, and over, and over and over, they’re gonna get annoyed. That’s not a good experience. Same thing here for that person that’s reading your page. Once you type it up, if you think, “It’s great. It’s a great optimized page, I just crushed it on my keyword,” read it back to yourself. See if you find it annoying how many times you’ve put that keyword in there. Or have a trusted relative or friend or coworker or somebody else, read it and say, “What do you think?” And if they say, “Well, obviously you’re a plumber. You’re really bashing that over my head.” That’s a direct signal that that’s definitely over-optimized.
Jesse: In that same vein, if your text in general is just really hard to read. If you’re not writing your paragraphs to be read by people, if you’re only writing these things for the purpose of stuffing your keywords in there, that’s not gonna read well. Google’s giving a lot of credibility now to that user experience, that readability. And not only are they doing that when they’re crawling that, like your bounce rates. I think we’ve all searched for something, and landed on a website that’s obviously over-optimized. You just know this business, yeah they might be a plumber, but-
Bob: They’re not local.
Jesse: They’re not local, maybe they are even local, but the page is so obviously spamming that keyword, you distrust it a little bit, right? You might even back out and choose somebody else. Maybe they’re ranked a little bit lower, but they just look more legitimate and that speaks to that sentiment of the user experience and what Google’s trying to do, because at the end of the day, if you’re doing a good job being a really good business, and hopefully getting reviews, and doing other things to just be a good business, you don’t need to spam the system anymore. You don’t need to over-optimize like you did a few years ago to get those rankings. Now you just have to clearly communicate what you’re trying to go after, what your category, what your keyword is, and just do it plain and simple, and make sure you’re writing this text to be read by human beings. You’re not writing it to be read just by the search engine bots for the purpose of identifying, “This is my keyword and that’s the only reason for the page existing.” That’s gonna get taken down.
Jesse: So how do you know, in addition to reading it or what people are giving you feedback on, if your website is over-optimized, your pages aren’t gonna rank, right?
Jesse: There is an update, Google Panda, a number of years ago that was aimed at this, and Google’s constantly been tweaking that and going after that, attack these bad user experience pages, these bad and over-optimized pages. If you have some webpages that suddenly fall off the face of the earth, that’s the first thing I would look at. Pull up those pages, look at them. Again if it’s “emergency plumber” in every other sentence, then that’s just going to be super annoying to read, and that’s going to be an obvious reason why that page was either completely de-indexed, or the rankings just fell off the face of the earth. Like I was saying earlier, don’t dismay, go back, see if you can reorganize that page, put a caveat on there. If that’s one of 17 pages you created, that are very, very similar, going after slight variations on that keyword, then you might want to get rid of some of those pages.
Jesse: So you can be over-optimized, not just on the actual page, like any one specific, individual page. Your website in general can be over-optimized. If you’re creating slight variations and just pounding them into the ground with 17 pages on plumber, 17 pages on plumbers, 17 pages on plumbing, the website in general is over-optimized, you’re gonna have a larger problem on your hands. If that’s the case, what you’re gonna want to do is see, you don’t want to re-engineer all those pages, because that’s gonna be pointless. You’re gonna have a bigger problem with your overall content being over-optimized. So if that’s the case, you’re gonna want to do some research to find out which one of those pages did rank the best, or is currently ranking the best, getting the most traffic, things like that. Maybe it has the most back-links coming to it.
Jesse: Find a winner within that group of 17 pages, in this example, and de-tune or re-optimize that page, and the other ones can either stay out to pasture, or you can delete them. There’s different ways to get those off your website, or maybe loop those back to give that juice back to the one that you are optimizing. And we’re gonna cover that in a different episode, so we’ll save that a little bit, saddle some stuff and loop that back in. We don’t want to get too far off tangent here.
Jesse: But that’s gonna be the case again if you’ve got a single page, or your website in general, is over-optimized. That’s what you’re gonna want to do is pick that winner, re-engineer that page, de-tune it to make it not over-optimized, and again write it for that user’s intent, and that user experience, because that’s what they’re there for. If people are searching for something, and they’re bumping into your website, you’re trying to provide them with an answer or a solution to their problem. You’re not trying to cram down their throat what you’re trying to get across for that particular keyword. That’s not solving their problem. And you’re not gonna get anywhere nowadays if that’s not the approach that you’re taking.
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