over-optimizationMatt Cutt’s recent interview with Danny Sullivan stirred a great fear in the SEO industry when he briefly mentioned “over-optimization“. Webmasters started to speculate what contributes to over-optimization and the results were getting ridiculous. Some even said bolding a keyword is over-optimization, while it wasn’t.

Further into the same interview, Matt Cutts also explained that Google loves SEO. Comparing two sites, one with SEO and one without, Google prefers the SEOed site as it helps GoogleBot understand better. This is also the reason why Google is leveling the playing field, so genuine SEO works better while blackhat SEO gets punished.

Over-optimization does not happen easily.

It is a condition that your website is having way way too much of SEO over-optimization, not the legitimate ones, but those that is obvious to game the search engines. In other words, it is optimization beyond acceptable limit. Some of the red-flags to check for:

1. Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is when your website use too many keywords in their content. There is no clear threshold, but when your content contains too many keywords that’s beyond readable, you probably have too many keywords. A natural keyword density will be around 2% to 4%. Reason is, with keyword density of less than 2%, your content may not be focused enough on the topic. Keyword desity of more than 4%, the content will probably be hard to read and can be called over-optimization. It’s not a rule to be within 2% to 4%, but most great content that ranks high and readable stays within 2% to 4% naturally. Try to keep your keyword density reasonable.

2. Hidden Text

Hidden text is old, but we are still seeing people using this to game the search engines. Hidden text is some text which invisible to human eyes but included in the HTML source. Example is when the text color is the same as the page background. More advanced hidden text will be keyword stuffing in image-metas, JavaScript keyword stuffing and CSS stuffing. Google just recently announced that they are able to crawl JavaScript and Css now, so it’s time to rethink your strategy if you are blackhatting! This kind of over-optimization can really affect your google ranking.

3. Duplicate Content

If you copy and paste some paragraphs from other websites into yours, Google and other search engines would flag your content as duplicate and it can drop out your search result. This happens during the Panda update. Google is getting better and better at recognizing who’s original and who’s copycat, which is a good news to the thought leaders. Through over-optimization of copycat content, you cannot get to page one for sure!

4. Cloaking Links or Links Spam

Cloaking links is a no-no since very long ago. Link spamming is also dangerous. Basically, any blackhat redirects or door-way pages are all frown upon. Other than this, also check the number of links on your site. If you have too many links pointing here and there just for the purpose of passing link juice that does not help visitor to navigate, remove those links. Google’s tracking visitor behavior and they know which link is necessary, which link is just redundant.

These are just some of the important clues to look for when it comes to over-optimization. To ensure you are not over-optimizing, always follow SEOPressor’s suggestions. SEOPressor has helped more than 15 million wordpress pages to stay on top of the game. You can probably see some of your competing pages are using SEOPressor. It’s been released 2 years ago anticipating today’s changes and now, users using SEOPressor see their ranking flourish.

Many SEOPressor users found their site’s ranking performance improving during Panda’s update and improve even more during the recent Penguin’s update. Daniel Tan expressed that they forecast true and genuine SEO will be the way to go, and hence SEOPressor was created to benefit webmasters.

Postscript From Danny Sullivan: See my follow-up analysis on the news here, Is Google’s “Over Optimization Penalty” Its “Jump The Shark” Moment In Web Search?

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