Avoid Over Optimizing Your Website To Maintain High Search Rankings
Yes, it is possible to over optimize your website. Too much of a good thing can get you in trouble with Google, and impact your search rankings in a big way. In this episode we answer the question “what is over optimization”, and break down some of the tactics and strategies you can use identify and avoid over optimizing your website.
- How is it possible to over optimize your website?
- What it means to be over optimized on your website
- What is keyword stuffing
- How keyword stuffing can lead to website over optimization
- Developing your web pages for “user intent” and not just focusing on keywords
- How to fix and reformat an over optimized web page
- Mixing in keyword variations on your page to make it SEO friendly and user friendly
- Methods of reviewing your page to determine if it’s too focused on specific keywords
- Google knows if you are writing your pages for rankings and not for humans to read
- Quality content and clear communications can get your pages ranked
- Consider the “user intent” on what your page is communicating
Thanks for Listening!
Here is the transcription from Episode 18 What Is Over Optimization and How To Avoid Over Optimizing Your Website;
Jesse: Hey everyone, welcome back to Local SEO Tactics. Jesse Dolan, joined by Bob Brennan,
Jesse: And this week, we’re gonna talk about over-optimization. If you’re trying to do some
SEO on your website, it’s tempting to optimize the heck out of everything. Search Engine
Optimization, optimization is right in there as the third word in that acronym, right? But
you can overdo it. Yes, you can have too much of a good thing, so today we’re gonna
break down just a few of the guidelines that you want to abide by, a few of the things
you want to avoid, and just how to know if you’re over-optimizing and what all this
Jesse: So the first question is, “What does it mean to be over-optimized?” We’re gonna break
that down and talk about a few things that, if you’re doing this, you’re gonna be in
danger. The first thing is keyword stuffing. In a few of our episodes, we’ve talked about
where you want to use keywords to optimize your website, and you still want to do that,
you still want to optimize your website. Optimization is not leaving SEO. But you can do
it too much, so keyword stuffing is probably the most classic example of what you don’t
want to do. If your phrase is, let’s just say “plumber”, we use plumbing as an example a
lot, you don’t want to use “plumber” 17 times on your page.
Jesse: There’s a lot of tools you can just google out there for, SEO Audit, things like that. You
can use our tool on our website to do it, free SEO audit as well on your website or your
webpage. But a lot of these give you a keyword density or how many times you’re using
certain keywords. Really at the end of the day, a good rule of thumb is, if you’ve already
communicated to Google what this page is about by your keyword, you don’t need to
just cram it down their throat. They’re gonna see that as being spammy.
Jesse: Some tactics for that would be using your keyword in the page title, the page meta
description, your H1, your H2, your H3, just repeating it over and over in every single
spot, particularly with absolutely no variations anywhere. Every image including it, every
alt tag an image including. Links on the page that are linking to other pages for your
anchor text including it. That’s just overdoing it, that’s not realistic. If you’re Google, it’s
looking like the page was obviously over-optimized for that keyword. It’s not gonna be a
user-friendly page. If you’re a human being reading this page, you kinda know after that
first headline and some of the first paragraphs or two, or some of the first bullet points.
Bob: And that’s really Google’s algorithm has, is basically, you can get by with all of that over,
let’s say the last two or three years or whatever the case is. But like you were telling me
with their artificial intelligence, it can detect that, and it needs to read properly, and
play out properly. And if it doesn’t, and it’s all jammed, then it’s gonna go backwards.
Jesse: Yeah. Going back a number of years, you could do tricks. Like at the very bottom of your
page, you just stuff a bunch of keywords in there or variations on your keyword in there,
and some people would even, like you have a white page background, they would put
them at the very bottom and then make that text white so it’d blend in. And as a user,
you wouldn’t see that, but it would still show up as text on there. There was things like
that that were done just to game Google, but at the end of the day, they’re not good for
user experience, and that’s what Bob’s talking about is, the algorithms are starting to
take into account not only what’s a spammy tactic, where you really try to be too
aggressive, but they’re also really looking at now, user intent. What was the intent of
this search? And the user experience.
Jesse: We know as humans, just like Google now knows, if you’re just mashing that keyword all
over the place, it doesn’t read good. That’s not good content, if you just say “Awesome
plumber, emergency plumber, best plumber in town.” You don’t need to keep repeating
that same word over and over. So if you have a page right now that’s over-optimized, in
your opinion, you don’t have to be alarmed. You can actually reformat that page.
Something that’s pretty easy to do, so you don’t have to completely trash the page and
start over, which would be horrible, especially if that page has any kind of rank in the
Bob: That’s a lot of work.
Jesse: Yeah, you don’t want to recreate that if you don’t have to. Just change some of that out.
You can go in there, and if you’ve got your keyword in every title tag, headline,
everything else, put some variations in there. If you’re talking plumber, “plumbing
service”, “best drain unclogger in town”, or whatever it is. You can come up with
variations and not have to completely rewrite the crux of your entire page. But just detune it.
Quit repeating that keyword over and over and over. Don’t get me wrong, don’t
get me wrong, you wanna have your keyword in the page title, in the description, your
H1 tag, you still want to use it in those various places. But there’s a fine line of abusing it
Jesse: So we’re not saying that these keywords don’t matter. To the contrary. You just have to
think about it, kind of that intent of the search engine, crawling bot, and the users that,
“Did you already communicate this?” If you’re telling a story to somebody, or maybe
teaching somebody a lesson or whatever it is, if you say that same phrase over, and
over, and over and over, they’re gonna get annoyed. That’s not a good experience.
Same thing here for that person that’s reading your page. Once you type it up, if you
think, “It’s great. It’s a great optimized page, I just crushed it on my keyword,” read it
back to yourself. See if you find it annoying how many times you’ve put that keyword in
there. Or have a trusted relative or friend or coworker or somebody else, read it and
say, “What do you think?” And if they say, “Well, obviously you’re a plumber. You’re
really bashing that over my head.” That’s a direct signal that that’s definitely overoptimized.
Jesse: In that same vein, if your text in general is just really hard to read. If you’re not writing
your paragraphs to be read by people, if you’re only writing these things for the purpose
of stuffing your keywords in there, that’s not gonna read well. Google’s giving a lot of
credibility now to that user experience, that readability. And not only are they doing
that when they’re crawling that, like your bounce rates. I think we’ve all searched for
something, and landed on a website that’s obviously over-optimized. You just know this
business, yeah they might be a plumber, butBob: They’re not local.
Jesse: They’re not local, maybe they are even local, but the page is so obviously spamming that
keyword, you distrust it a little bit, right? You might even back out and choose
somebody else. Maybe they’re ranked a little bit lower, but they just look more
legitimate and that speaks to that sentiment of the user experience and what Google’s
trying to do, because at the end of the day, if you’re doing a good job being a really good
business, and hopefully getting reviews, and doing other things to just be a good
business, you don’t need to spam the system anymore. You don’t need to over-optimize
like you did a few years ago to get those rankings. Now you just have to clearly
communicate what you’re trying to go after, what your category, what your keyword is,
and just do it plain and simple, and make sure you’re writing this text to be read by
human beings. You’re not writing it to be read just by the search engine bots for the
purpose of identifying, “This is my keyword and that’s the only reason for the page
existing.” That’s gonna get taken down.
Jesse: So how do you know, in addition to reading it or what people are giving you feedback
on, if your website is over-optimized, your pages aren’t gonna rank, right?
Jesse: There is an update, Google Panda, a number of years ago that was aimed at this, and
Google’s constantly been tweaking that and going after that, attack these bad user
experience pages, these bad and over-optimized pages. If you have some webpages that
suddenly fall off the face of the earth, that’s the first thing I would look at. Pull up those
pages, look at them. Again if it’s “emergency plumber” in every other sentence, then
that’s just going to be super annoying to read, and that’s going to be an obvious reason
why that page was either completely de-indexed, or the rankings just fell off the face of
the earth. Like I was saying earlier, don’t dismay, go back, see if you can reorganize that
page, put a caveat on there. If that’s one of 17 pages you created, that are very, very
similar, going after slight variations on that keyword, then you might want to get rid of
some of those pages.
Jesse: So you can be over-optimized, not just on the actual page, like any one specific,
individual page. Your website in general can be over-optimized. If you’re creating slight
variations and just pounding them into the ground with 17 pages on plumber, 17 pages
on plumbers, 17 pages on plumbing, the website in general is over-optimized, you’re
gonna have a larger problem on your hands. If that’s the case, what you’re gonna want
to do is see, you don’t want to re-engineer all those pages, because that’s gonna be
pointless. You’re gonna have a bigger problem with your overall content being overoptimized.
So if that’s the case, you’re gonna want to do some research to find out
which one of those pages did rank the best, or is currently ranking the best, getting the
most traffic, things like that. Maybe it has the most back-links coming to it.
Jesse: Find a winner within that group of 17 pages, in this example, and de-tune or re-optimize
that page, and the other ones can either stay out to pasture, or you can delete them.
There’s different ways to get those off your website, or maybe loop those back to give
that juice back to the one that you are optimizing. And we’re gonna cover that in a
different episode, so we’ll save that a little bit, saddle some stuff and loop that back in.
We don’t want to get too far off tangent here.
Jesse: But that’s gonna be the case again if you’ve got a single page, or your website in general,
is over-optimized. That’s what you’re gonna want to do is pick that winner, re-engineer
that page, de-tune it to make it not over-optimized, and again write it for that user’s
intent, and that user experience, because that’s what they’re there for. If people are
searching for something, and they’re bumping into your website, you’re trying to
provide them with an answer or a solution to their problem. You’re not trying to cram
down their throat what you’re trying to get across for that particular keyword. That’s
not solving their problem. And you’re not gonna get anywhere nowadays if that’s not
the approach that you’re taking.
Jesse: So at the end of the day, again not to beat a dead horse here, but Google’s entire focus
right now is to make sure that your website is geared toward the user intent, and that
user experience. Write these pages and these articles for the user in mind. There’s lots
of good tools you can use out there. I think we’ve mentioned Yoast before, as a
WordPress plug-in particularly. They have readability and SEO scores built into their
tool. So if you don’t know maybe how to score some of this or grade it yourself, leverage
a tool like that. Again, if you’re using WordPress, definitely install Yoast, and use their
internal grading systems to help you understand this. They have premium add-ons that
help you even further, but just their free out-of-the-box plug-in is gonna do you some
pretty good wonders in that. And again, if you just abide to the fact that you’re creating
this for humans, no longer keyword stuffing or getting that level of optimization, you’ll
be in a pretty good spot.
Jesse: Again, in days gone by, this was an easy thing to do. You could really just mash keywords
and stuff keywords all over the place, and get ranks because other people weren’t doing
it. Nowadays, you can’t do that, so not only are we talking about over-optimization here.
What is it? How to correct it and maybe how to guard against it. You really need to do
other things for SEO, right? You could literally get by before just doing that, and you
could have a very high-ranking website. That’s not the case anymore. If you’re searching
for SEO articles or how-to’s, don’t trust anything that’s more than a couple years old,
Bob: Oh yeah.
Jesse: Because there’s gonna be some tactics in there that just aren’t allowed anymore by
Google and their algorithms are so much smarter. Again, we referenced AI, and machine
learning. Things are just advancing at a pace that they never have been before, in the
SEO world at least. So if you need to optimize your website, which of course you do, we
all do, we all constantly have to, there’s a lot of on-page, a lot of off-page, and many
other resources which we hope we’re bringing you that week-to-week here.
Jesse: That’s about it for this week. If you like what we’re doing, we’d love to hear from you.
Intrycks.com/show, also leave us a review on iTunes, Intrycks.com/iTunes. You’re gonna
find a real quick tutorial on how to get on iTunes, leave your review. It’s not super, super
tough, but it’s just not the most straightforward thing in the world, so we’ve got a real
quick guide on how to do that. If you like what we’re doing, we’d really love to hear
from you. It lets us know we’re putting out good content and bringing good value, and
we just love to hear it, so if you keep leaving us reviews, we’re gonna keep reading them
Jesse: This week, we got a five star review here from Chris P KKK, he says, “Clear the jungle,
clear your head, get started.” I’m assuming that’s a “he”, just by the spelling, so I
apologize, actually. But the reviews says, “So much useful information about Search
Engine Optimization. It’s good that there’s a podcast who walks through the jungle of
options, especially as a beginner in SEO, I feel that I have a much clearer picture now,
and actionable advice. Thank you.
Bob: Thanks, Chris.”
Jesse: Yeah, thanks, Chris. Again, exactly what we’re trying to do. Actionable, easy, digestible
pieces for you to do. And this is not an expert end-all-be-all for SEO tactics. We’re
speaking to local business owners, marketing managers, sales people, we’re just trying
to get fund locally, and get more exposure online, so appreciate the review, Chris, and
keep them coming in, guys.
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