Website over-optimized

Is my website over-optimized?

Is my website over-optimized?

February 09th, 2017 – 10 Comments

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.

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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.

Read more: ‘How to write a high quality and SEO-friendly blog post’ »


10 Responses to Is my website over-optimized?

  1. Anil Agarwal
    By Anil Agarwal on 20 February, 2017

    Over optimizing a site can hurt your rankings.

    Google bots are smart enough to find whether a site is properly structured or over optimized.

    Over optimization may lead to penalty so it’s always better to think about restructuring your design for your target audience by also focusing your target keywords in mind.

    Here’s where tools like Yoast SEO come into handy. It’s easier to do on page SEO with a tool like that even if you are a beginner who knows nothing about SEO.

    Great tips Marieke.

  2. Adam
    By Adam on 19 February, 2017

    We are big fans of Yoast! Great advise. Thanks for keeping us posted about the current SEO practices.

  3. toshiba support
    By toshiba support on 18 February, 2017

    Today I learned a lot from your website. thank you.
    Toshiba Customer Service

  4. Seo Kerala
    By Seo Kerala on 17 February, 2017

    Great post. Thanks for sharing information about over optimization.

  5. Edem
    By Edem on 10 February, 2017

    ” Google will understand what your post is about and rank it accordingly. ”
    It is true. Even small articles can rank in top 10.

  6. AJT
    By AJT on 10 February, 2017

    This is what I’ve realized with my sites: Do anything to make the UX better.

    Will keyword stuffing make the experience better for the user? No, probably not. So there is no need to do it. But if it somehow did, it would be fine.

    Google is getting smarter and stats like bounce rate, avg time on page, etc are all useless. A better UX will lead to more links, more interaction, more dwell time, and higher rankings.

  7. AJT
    By AJT on 10 February, 2017

    This is what I’ve realized with my sites: Do anything to make the UX better.

    Will keyword stuffing make the experience better for the user? No, probably not. So there is no need to do it. But if it somehow did, it would be fine.

    Google is getting smarter and stats like bounce rate, avg time on page, etc are all useless. A better UX will lead to more links, more interaction, more dwell time, and higher rankings.

  8. Jacco
    By Jacco on 9 February, 2017

    Luckily Google is becoming smarter these days, looking at user intent instead of just keywords used. In a few years we’re all writing like normal human beings again, without the need to count each keyword use :-)

    P.s. The text link in the newsletter was broken.

    • RRBRBRB
      By RRBRBRB on 10 February, 2017

      Except Google has become terrible at providing variations of search results. It’s now gotten to the point here as a content searcher, I vary my search terms to narrow and filter specific content and Google still brings up the same list of page results. They’ve gone too far…

  9. Ron Zepplin
    By Ron Zepplin on 9 February, 2017

    Thanks for the nice article Marieke. We must always stay cautious and try to avoid over optimization. We should make websites/bogs which for people, not for bots.


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