How to Tell When SEO Services Has Over-Optimized a Website

Staff Writer: Carolyn Johnson

Date: 8.29.2012


In your endeavors to get more traffic to your site, you have likely heard of Google SEO services and seen ads the scream about how they’re “The best SEO service!” A problem comes into play when a website owner focuses so intensely on SEO that it becomes over-optimized and suffers as a result. There are several ways that SEO services can go overboard and take a nosedive if not corrected.

One of the most common ways to over-optimize a site is a technique called keyword stuffing. This entails the over-use of relevant keywords on your site to the point where it gets in the way of otherwise good, original content. The latest Goodle Panda updates don’t tolerate this practice, and surely your website will get downgraded in the rankings if it hasn’t already.

Hidden text is also a common problem, which is another method of keyword stuffing. The main difference is that the SEO professional will make the over-stuffed keywords invisible to the reader by making the font color match the website’s background color. This and visible keyword-stuffing are both unacceptable practices.

Another sign of over-optimization is the over-use of backlinks. The philosophy of backlinks is that the more outside sites that link back to your site, the more popular you are perceived to be, and therefore search engines will boost your rankings. Google Penguin updates, however, have been downgrading those who use SEO to abuse backlinks. When you have too many backlinks, the focus is removed from the actual quality of the content, as well as the quality of the distribution channels through which those backlinks are acquired. Backlinking to lots of shady linking networks and low quality pages is just cheating and Google doesn’t tolerate it.

Weak links are also a sign of over-optimization. There are dated techniques out there for getting links that are actually of weaker quality, such as link swapping and link exchanges. Any self-respecting SEO professional should probably slam the brakes on these practices in favor of more natural link building.

Bad and abused SEO tries to force traffic to the site that should otherwise come naturally. Link building and SEO should be used to the end of developing relationships between your site and sites much like it that appeal to your target audience. Some webmasters put too much faith in their links and not enough faith in quality content that will draw in more viewers. Using large blog networks and mini sites that link up to your website is not a natural way to get traffic and could get penalized by Google.

An over-optimized site will likely have content that is unreadable because it caters solely to the keywords and not to the content’s core subject. Content will be written awkwardly or written solely with a sales pitch in mind, just so the keywords can make an appearance. The truth is, people can see right through your lazy, keyword-driven content.

These are just a few of the signs to indicate that your site may be overly optimized. It may take some time to reverse some of these mistakes, but it will be worth the time and natural traffic that you’ll earn.

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