Have you heard the saying, “Too much of a good thing?” It is as true in SEO as it is in life. Over-optimization can backfire instead of helping you. When you overreach, all of those measures you intended to improve your website traffic could actually hurt its search engine rankings.
Over-optimization may have worked in the past but not anymore. In the old days of SEO, the way to rank high was to stuff keywords into your site or to generate countless backlinks to a site. Today, keyword stuffing and link spamming are tantamount to SEO suicide. Google has gotten wise and is now penalizing sites that use these tactics.
So how do you know if you are over-optimizing your site? Watch for these red flags:
- Keyword-rich anchors for internal links – While internal linking is a good practice, using excessive keyword-rich anchor text for internal linking is not. Search engines will penalize for anchors that use keywords of the exact destination URL.
- Non-relevant keywords – They worked in the old days, but they do not work anymore. You may trick visitors initially by using non-relevant keywords, but you cannot expect conversion, as people will leave your site as soon as they fail to get what they were looking for.
- Pointing every link to top-level navigation pages – Links must point to both the internal pages and the home page. While it is normal for websites to have a majority of the links pointing to the homepage, it must not be overdone. Neglecting the internal pages weakens your link profile.
- Using multiple H1s on a page – The page’s main heading is an H1 header. Some webmasters mistakenly think that using several H1s is good SEO. However, having more than one H1 on a page is considered over-optimization.
- Linking to toxic sites – Linking to spammy or toxic sites will bring your site into the same neighborhood and negatively affect your SEO. Hello Google Penguin penalty.
- Keyword-stuffed footer – Overstuffed footers are devalued by search engines. Remember that a footer is not a sitemap and not a place for garbage and graphics.
Keep a broad perspective rather than fretting over rankings. Over-optimization usually happens when webmasters focus too much on technical SEO, losing the bigger picture in the process.