Over-optimization – How It Will Affect Your Website Rankings

For decades website owners achieved top rankings in the search engines with keyword stuffing, link schemes, paid links, etc. As a result search engine users would often get irrelevant results when they entered a specific keyword into the search box. For example when you wanted to find a specific hotel in your local area you would get hotels from all over the country.


Google, Bing, Yahoo… the 3 major search engines have constantly be been competing to return the most relevant results to their users. Google still reigns supreme (as of this writing) because it’s the most popular search engine most people use. The goal of the search engines is to provide the most targeted results for any specific keyword a person searches on. This is why they are continually refining their ranking formulas.

What is Over-optimization?

This refers to using artificial strategies to gain high search engine rankings.

Matt Cutts…Google’s head of search spam, announced during a panel discussion at a search engine conference (SXSW) that Google is releasing an algorithm update targeting sites that are over-optimized.

Here’s an audio of the conference of people asking top questions about how Google and Bing rank sites and getting their answers directly from the source (Matt Cutts, Danny Sullivan, Duane Forrester)

Here are 2 main factors how over-optimization will affect your website rankings:

1. Keyword stuffing

Search engines find websites based upon the keywords included in the code, copy and links. Keyword stuffing refers to using too many keywords on your website. For instance including your main keyword multiple times in your title meta-tags, web copy, navigation links, etc.

What to do instead
Only use your keyword one time in your title meta-tag and description meta-tag. Avoid stuffing too many keywords in your web copy by weaving them into the natural flow of your content. Navigation link text should encapsulate the content of the page that is linked to.

2. Link schemes

Google and other search engines utilize the quantity and quality of links pointing to your website as one of the main ranking factors. Link schemes refer to artificially inflating your rankings through getting links from irrelevant websites, acquiring too many links at one time, buying links and subscribing to paid blog networks.

For example you may pay a fee to participate in a blog network where hundreds of websites are all linking to each other even though they may not be related. When Google discovers these link schemes they get penalized by removing them from the search engines. This means your highly ranked website may suddenly disappear plus you’ve wasted your money.

What to do instead
Avoid participating in link schemes, purchasing paid links or trying to artificially inflate your rankings by getting thousands of links to your website in a short period of time (e.g. purchasing a 5000 link package).

  • Acquire links naturally by creating compelling content
  • Syndicate your content to other websites by writing guest blog posts, submitting press releases.
  • Engage socially through social media websites
  • Build an authority website so it becomes the online resource for searches
  • Create your content primarily for visitors rather than the search engines
  • Design your website or blog for ease of use

If you stick to the SEO strategies mentioned above you won’t have to worry about your website getting penalized for search engine spam. If you have a website that used spammy techniques in the past to gain high search engine rankings, revisit the site to make sure it’s not over-optimized.

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