Optimizing sites for search engines is something we do every day. Of course, we practice what we preach! But, now and then, we encounter websites that have gone a little bit overboard in their optimization strategies. What is the difference between SEO and over-optimization? And, how do you recognize an over-optimized website? In this post, I will answer these two questions!
What is over-optimization?
In my view, a website is over-optimized if the techniques aimed at ranking high in the search engines harmed the quality of the site. In such a case, visitors of the website will have a different, worse – experience. If texts become hard or annoying to read: you’re probably stuffing them with the keywords you want to be found on. If there are uncountable numbers of links on your website: you’re probably trying to over-optimize your anchor texts.
Keyword stuffing: over-optimized text
Keyword stuffing is the most obvious way to over-optimize your website. Of course, using your keyword a number of times will help with your ranking. Google will understand what your post is about and rank it accordingly. Over-optimized text, however, is unreadable. If you put your keyword in every (other) sentence, your text will become terrible to read. Nobody wants to read a blog post about pink ballet shoes if every sentence contains the keyword [pink ballet shoes]. Even people who are genuinely interested in pink ballet shoes will get annoyed.
Consequences of over-optimization
Google’s Panda update aimed at all those sites with over-optimized content. If you are taking the optimization of your content a little bit too far, you are thus risking a Panda penalty. If Panda hits you, you’ll notice a sudden drop in your rankings. Over-optimizing your content could, therefore, backfire.
Over-optimizing always leads to a bad UX. Your text will not be easy and fun to read if you stuffed it with keywords. A text that’s full of links is not attractive either. Over-optimized texts will receive less social media attention. If your visitors get annoyed, they will be less inclined to buy something or to return to your website.
Our advice on an over-optimized website
An over-optimized website is a site that took SEO a step too far. Over-optimizing implies that the UX or readability of your website has suffered from your SEO strategy.
At Yoast, we practice holistic SEO. Google states that they want to give the user the best result. With our SEO-strategy, we always aim to the best result. Write the best content, make sure the UX of your site is flawless, cover all technical aspects and take care of the security of your site. Without making any concessions to the quality of your site, you can do numerous things to optimize your site for the search engines.