Updated January 9, 2023Reading Time: 2 minutes
How Much SEO, Is Too Much?
As if you needed another thing to worry about when it came to SEO… But, in a recent Google Webmaster’s Hangout, Google’s John Mueller mentioned an aspect of search engine optimization that can often be forgotten, over-optimization.
What do you mean it’s too optimized?!
Over-optimization is a term that covers a broad church of grey (or black) hat SEO sins. Typically it means your site is more focused on getting SEO points, over user experience. An example of this could be packing a load of keywords into a blog post, but sacrificing readability of that post. Google will rank the page based on the keywords, but notice that the time on page, or bounce rate for that page is especially high. Which will then lead Google to the conclusion that the page has been categorized incorrectly. Because why else would users be bouncing off the page so quickly?
This is essentially what John is talking about when he mentions the over-optimization of a homepage. Some web users may find that various pages that “should” be ranking well may actually find themselves penalized for keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is another grey hat technique that means putting a keyword on a page a large number of times to help it rank.
In the hangout John mentions that this is often a problem faced by eCommerce sites, that may unwittingly be keyword stuffing because their site mentions a particular keyword a large number of times. This “over-optimization” then triggers an internal alarm when the page is crawled by Google, and the page doesn’t rank well.
So, when you’re optimizing your pages it is important to make sure you’re not doing too much. One way of doing this is making sure you’re optimizing for a number of keywords, both short and long tail. While having one keyword to focus on is a good thing, being too focused on it can lead to over optimization. If a page you think should be on the first page isn’t doing well, take a look at it again and see if it is over-optimized.
Another way to check your pages for over-optimization is by using plugins. Yoast has long been a favourite plugin of ours, and their SEO plugin will tell you if you’ve used a focused keyword too many times based on the word count of the page. Their plugin typically suggests you keep it around the 3% mark. If you’re mentioning a keyword over 3% of the time, it could appear over-optimized.
So, now it’s time for us to go and delete 50% of the times we’ve mentioned “over-optimization” from this blog post…