We’re constantly touting the importance of optimizing your website for the search engines, but as with just about everything in life, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. A few months ago Google announced that they would be on the lookout for websites that were a bit too heavy on the SEO and subsequently penalizing them. So how can you tell if your site is over optimized? Here are a few tips to help you determine whether your site is good to go, as well as a few pointers on what to do if it’s not.
The first step is to check your existing site to see if it’s up to par to meet the new requirements. Some of the things that were once critical in getting good search results have now become red flags for Google. In particular, making sure that your inbound anchor text, title tags, and URL were closely aligned used to play a big role in ranking. Now, this consistency may appear to Google as artificial optimization. Likewise, the ratio of keywords you have on any given page as well as the targeted matching of links to anchor text may also become a target of the new Google algorithm.
Once you’ve examined your present website, if you’ve discovered that any of these factors may actually be negatively affecting your rankings, it’s time to make a few adjustments. The ultimate goal is to make your links more natural and keep content relevant to the purpose of your website. While there is no guaranteed way to perfectly optimize your site, you can employ the following common sense SEO techniques to better your chances and reduce the possibility of over optimization:
• Don’t overdo it with the keywords. Yes, you need them. Yes, they play a critical role in how you rank in the SERPs. But too many of them can spell doom for your website. Avoid overstuffing your content, titles and URL with keywords.
• Avoid exact matches in your anchor text. This can be a hard habit to break, but it’s important as it’s something Google is now viewing as a red flag. If you’re currently using a WordPress plugin, you may want to disable it and manually link for now.
• Make sure your title tags and Meta descriptions aren’t spammy. If they’re currently just stuffed with keywords, it’s time to change them to be more readable.
• Generate user-focused content. In other words, don’t write just for SEO, but consider the end user and how valuable they will find your content.
• Avoid link-filled footers. Check to make sure your website footer isn’t just filled with anchor text links. Not only does it appear spammy, but it’s now a no-no in terms of search engine relevancy.
SEO can be tricky – too little and your site will be all but ignored in the search engines, but too much and you’ll be in trouble. The key is to be aware of that fine line and to find a way to skirt it. By following these tips and tricks, you’ll be better poised to rank well in the search engines without having to worry about overdoing it.