Last Updated on August 5, 2020
For us White Hat SEO Practioners, Matt Cutts‘ announcement about Google’s plan to launch a new over-optimization penalty was music to our ears. For our clients who do everything by the book, this is great news as they’ll have a better chance for ranking higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP), drive organic search traffic to their site and convert leads. It will hopefully level the playing field, and reward those of us who use SEO best practices rather than abusing them.
What exactly is “Over Optimization?” Is it possible to be excessive with your SEO?
The simple answer: yes. However, the realistic answer is complicated as Google closely guards their algorithm. We make educated guesses as to what they reward… or not. Cutts did mention that Google will evaluate sites that use too many keywords on a page, exchange too many links, or use practices that go beyond what a normal person would put into their content. If you’re worried that you fall into the SEO overboard category, here’s a chance to clean up your act and put on a White Hat.
- Links to a page from the same page with optimized anchor text.
- Linking to handful of key pages with optimized anchor text.
- Changing the “Home” anchor text to most valuable keyword. Home pages are typically brand pages, and deeper pages have more relevant content that’s keyword optimized.
- Overly consistent and highly optimized backlinks (also known as an incoming or inbound link).
- Generic keyword domain names. While not a complete no-no, keywords in domain names may provide an unfair advantage that Google will demote in importance.
In a nutshell, here’s my SEO philosophy: If it’s good for the human visitor, it’s good SEO. If your SEO agency focuses on tricking the search engine bots, then it’s a matter of time until Google figures it out, alters their criteria, and penalizes you for bad behavior. If you are customer-centric — studying what they search for and what information they need in their decision-making process — then you’ve got a solid SEO foundation.
What other SEO over-optimization do you think should be penalized?