There’s been a lot of buzz lately about over-optimization. Ever since Panda 3.4 took down several major blog networks, Google’s been hinting at additional penalties coming to those who over-optimize their websites.

It’s a big problem, too. Many ambitious SEOs learn the basics of SEO and over-optimize their websites. They begin to see improvements, so they continue to optimize. And it’s not only ambitious beginners. No, there are entire SEO companies built on artificially inflating results by over-optimizing. 

In future updates, expect to see waves of penalties to over-optimized websites. Rumor has it one of these updates is right around the corner. Is your website in the crosshairs? Maybe. In today’s article, we’ll be talking about sites that are at risk and how you can protect yourself before it’s too late.

Creating Sites for Humans – Not Robots

Before we describe the nitty-gritty details, it’s worth mentioning that virtually all of these problems have to do with creating a website for robots – not humans.

If you over-optimize your website, it’s going to be ugly. It’s going to be littered with odd keywords and paragraphs that don’t make any sense. Additionally, the titles of your pages and the title of your site will make little to no sense to the human mind. To Google’s robots, however, your website may make a lot of sense. But since Google bots are trained to penalize sites that only contain content readable by engines, you don’t want your site optimized for the Google bots.

So when you create your content, ask yourself, “Is this written for humans or for the Google bots?” Keep this idea in mind as you read on.

Keyword Spam

This is one of the biggest problems facing beginner SEOs. Look at the following paragraph and see if you can spot the problem:

Welcome to Accounting Services Dallas. We offer the best accounting services in Dallas. If you find yourself in need of accounting services, don’t go anywhere else – come to accounting services Dallas!

This is a bit of an over-exaggeration, but you’ve probably seen this before. This is called “keyword stuffing” and it is a HUGE red flag to Google bots.

With keywords, more is NOT better. No, the best way to rank for a keyword is to use it as naturally as possible. So use it when it makes sense, and only when it makes sense. Instead of mentioning your main keyword 10 times per paragraph, use your main keyword once, but fill in related LSI keywords in a way that makes sense to the reader.

Multiple Pages with Similar Titles

This is another “trick” you’ll see fairly often: SEO’s creating multiple pages with very similar keywords. So for our Dallas site, you may see a page titled “Dallas Accounting Services.” Then another page is called “Dallas CPA Services.” Then “Dallas Tax Services.” All these pages could easily be combined into one. And that’s exactly what human readers would prefer to read.

No one wants to read several pages that all contain the same information on slightly different keywords. And let’s face it – if you’re writing content on each of these keywords, the content is going to be garbage. It’s virtually impossible to create high-quality unique content for slightly varying keywords.

Watch the Anchor Text

When most SEO’s find their “main keywords,” they get tunnel vision. This because the main keywords will always have the most potential traffic. So for both internal and external linking, these SEO’s will use the main keyword as their anchor text virtually every single time.

So Google sees the site has a few hundred links. Great. Wait, what’s this? All the links have the anchor text “accounting services Dallas?” Instant red flag. On top of this, some SEO’s point all these same anchor text links at their homepage. That’s a HUGE red flag.

See, if these were natural links, they would have varying anchor text. And they wouldn’t all be pointing to the homepage!

Want More SEO Tips?

So the update’s coming. And now you know what the biggest red flags are. If you’ve been over-optimizing your site, now is the time to fix it. We’re fairly confident an update is coming. The question is when that update comes, is your site going to be penalized, or is it going to rise in the rankings? That’s up to you.

If you’d like additional SEO tips and the latest news on what Googles doing, fill out the form below. We’ll send you an email whenever we get news of a new update, or whenever we figure out a great post-Panda SEO technique.

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Lastly, don’t forget to run a free on-page analysis on your website. This is a fantastic way to find out if you’re over or under optimizing.

If you liked this article, you may also enjoy:

Five Creative Ways to Add Value and Credibility to Your Website

How to Create Well Optimized and Natural Sounding Content

Three Examples of a Solid Keyword Strategy

How to Optimize Your Meta-titles, Descriptions and Keywords