Are You an Over-Optimizer? Google Penalizes Too Much SEO

Are you familiar with your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy and how it works? Do you like to get your hands dirty when it comes to optimizing your practice’s site? You may be doing more harm than good.

While at a recent search marketing conference, Google’s Matt Cutts revealed that the search engine is working on a new penalty to target overly optimized sites.

But what is over-optimization? How do you know if you’ve over-optimized your content? And why is overly SEO’d content bad?

The Rosemont Review recently sat down with Rosemont Media CEO Keith Humes for a frank discussion about overdoing it, and how to ensure you aren’t penalized when Google rolls out the update.

What is over-optimization?

Keith Humes: Over-optimization is the practice of optimizing a website for the search engines with no care for the end user. One example would be clumsy content with too many geographic locators, something like “Dr. Jones practices plastic surgery in La Jolla, part of of San Diego County in Southern California near Orange County.”

Other issues like keyword stuffing, too much inter-linking, trying to optimize too many pages for similar terms, and going after links from irrelevant sites, blogs, forums, or directories.

Example of Keyword Stuffing:
My names is Dr. Jones and I offer plastic surgery in La Jolla. If you are wondering about plastic surgery, please read through my La Jolla plastic surgery site, and then give my La Jolla plastic surgery practice a call to schedule a consultation for plastic surgery.

Why is this update important to Google?

KH: I have two answers here, and really hope this update is being made in support of the latter. First, Google wants to keep everyone on their toes and to keep the page moving because that ultimately puts more emphasis on paid advertising.

However, I’m hoping this update is designed to improve the end user’s experience by focusing more on good content and design.

Why is over-optimization a bad thing?

KH: Bottom line: you are trying to trick the search engines. They don’t like this, and neither does the user.

How do I know if I’m an over-optimizer?

KH: Start by reading through your site and focus on the readability of the content. If it does not read well, there’s your first indication.

Next, look at the overall design of the site. Does it look like there are too many keywords stuffed into the page? As a rule of thumb, Google recommends you keep it to roughly 1 link per 100 words.

How can I figure out when to link keywords in my content?

KH:Link if it seems relevant to the page or topic. And don’t overdo it.

What’s the most important thing to consider when working on SEO?

KH:Keep it simple and relevant. Think about the user and how to enhance their experience with your site.

3 Signs of a Successfully Optimized Website

KH: Properly optimized sites typically have three things in common. First is page one rankings, or at the very least they are steadily climbing toward page one. Next, time on site should be over two minutes. And last, average number of pageviews per visit should be over four pages.

How does your site stack up to Keith’s over-SEO assessment? Visit our Facebook page after conducting the test and let us know what you find.

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