If You’re Overdoing SEO, STOP it Right Now!

Mar 19, 2012   //   by Obaidul Haque   //   SEO, SEO Blog  //  30 Comments

SEO is here to stay for a long time. Though it’s important to stick to best SEO practices and guidelines, you should never use too much SEO. Google spam team head Matt Cutts attended the SXSW a week ago. During his panel, he announced that Google is working on an update that’ll specifically target those websites that indulge in overdoing SEO.

Matt’s announcement is yet another proof that SEO won’t die soon. It’s here to stay and webmasters need to be more careful while incorporating search optimization strategies into their sites.

So, you need to ask – ‘Is my site overly SEO’ed?

The upcoming update is going to be a massive one. A hard pill to swallow for SEOs! Though Google usually doesn’t pre-announce an algorithmic update, this announcement should quickly raise the ears of SEOs around the globe. If you are working really hard at SEO (which I know many of you do), it’s about time you stopped this right away.

Though over-optimization or overdone SEO has been in discussion for a long time, you can’t ignore it anymore. The algorithmic update (which many Google engineers are already working on) will be launched anytime in the next few weeks. It sounds pretty scary, right?

Signs of Over-Optimization
I know this is what you actually want to ask. You want to know how much SEO is too much so that you can identify whether your site is overly SEO’ed. On the other hand, there are those who are over-optimizing their web pages and they know that they are overdoing it. Brace yourself!

A site is overly SEO’ed if –

it repeats keywords in Meta tags
it has long keyword-stuffed URL strings
it has keyword-stuffed alt tags
it focuses on SEO content, rather than the visitor
it has an unnatural backlinks profile
it has too many anchor-text manipulated hyperlinks on web pages

Many times, you would force yourself to complete 500 words when you can say or express your idea in just 300 words. You do it only because you want to meet a mythical search engine word count so that you can rank at top positions in search engine results pages. This is exactly when you start to create fluffy SEO copy, which indicates you are in the habit of overdoing SEO.

What to Do
Without any delay, you should warn all your SEOs or the search optimization agency (if you outsource the work) to beware before it’s too late. If you’re working with a SEO company, it’s always a good idea to keep a close watch on everything they are doing to improve your site’s rankings. Don’t make the mistake of handling your sites to a SEO agency or professional and never bothering to check what strategies they are using. After all, it’s your businesses and you’re accountable for where you want to take it.

Please people and search engines will be happy too. Google has told it time and again that they want to enhance the web user’s experience. If you want your site to survive in search rankings, you need to focus all of your attention to people. By writing for people, you won’t only escape search penalties, but you’ll also increase the rate of conversion on your site.

And, be careful if you plan to hire a SEO agency or professional because prevention is always better than cure.

Should Google Define ‘Too Much SEO’ or ‘Over-Optimization’?
This is an important question. A lot of people are worried because they have no idea how Google is going to differentiate between great content and overly SEO’ed sites. Publishers and small businesses are investing in SEO in large numbers. They really need more clarity about what Google considers as ‘over-optimized’ or ‘overly SEO’ed’. Will Google ever answer?

What do you have to say about this upcoming Google search update? I really hope that your site doesn’t fall into the ‘overly SEO’ed’ catgory.

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Obaidul Haque

Obaidul works as an SEO manager handling client projects. He focuses heavily on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing (SMM). Also a passionate blogger and freelance writer, he shares his insightful views regularly on HelloBloggerz . You can follow him on Google Plus or Twitter.

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  • Andy says:

    I think it’s too early to tell what will happen. It’s probably gonna be a fine line to walk and will take a lot of testing to find out where you have to stop. I’ll keep doing what I’ve always done, until they roll out the update. If my sites drop in the ranking, I’ll know I’ve overdone it, otherwise I’ll continue… 😉

    Anyway, I’ll keep a close eye on my and especially my competitions ranking to see who gets punished and who doesn’t.

    • Obaidul

      Yes, I’m waiting to see what happens next as this update is going to be a bigger one. Let’s keep a close watch and hope for the best.

      Many people are calling this the ‘Shark Update’. 🙂

      Thanks for dropping by, Andy.

  • From an SEO consultants perspective, I agree many that SEO firms “over optimize” their clients sites. It is always best to keep your process simple, concise and user-oriented. As long as you focus on usability and relevancy, Google will continue to honor your efforts. SEO is not going away, it is only being revitalized. If anything, SEO will grow higher in demand as it is redefined. SEO is not just keyword optimization it is the process of creatively distributing your content amongst various channels, properly developing your website to be validated, testing usability and navigation, etc.

    I give Kudos to Google for cracking down on those who litter the web. We need to clean up the web and pursue a clearer, focused user-experience for all!

  • Paulo says:


    Is it possible to fix any date for the implementation of this modification ? With this SEO overloaded rules?


  • As I think, Google will be updating its algorithm system with some new features and rules to avoid spamming. If your website gets natural back-links and on-page is perfect then Google cannot define “Over optimization” to your website how ever you have do lots of SEO.

  • Luna says:

    A good way of knowing whether your seller is actually who he says he is involves asking to see previous websites he has successfully worked on. In fact, if you are dealing with a real SEO professional, you should not even have to do so since showing their portfolio is often among the first steps of most people’s sale pitch.

  • bbrian017

    You know it’s ironic but I did a guest post on Famous Blogger about how I don’t even focus on SEO or back linking. In fact if you do what I do online it comes naturally so you don’t even have to do it. Sure it might take 10 times as long but it’s fun and while doing it your building o many great relationships. SEO should always be natural but the benefits of automating it is so quick and good. It will be interesting to see how many people get penalized for being over optimized ah-ha this is funny.

  • Great post Obaidul! Many people struggle with the concept of SEO and good practices for it. My trick is to do what comes naturally (write, put in the meta descriptions, etc) and then take a look at the keyword I want to target and make sure I mentioned it in both, and the title. I do it naturally which makes it real – and I think of the viewer and the message I want to say, which makes it valuable content, which Google loves anyway!

    Plus if you’re working with WordPress, there’s some great optimization plugins you can use that take the effort out of it 😉

    Melissa from MelissaAgnes.com

  • Stacy

    I don’t put too much thought into my SEO, I definitely write for my readers. I do fill out the keywords in my SEO plugin and I throw some in as the title of my images but beyond that it’s all about the reader.

    I’ve done pretty well with this so far and hopefully I’ll do even better when the new google changes hit!

  • Peter Lawlor says:

    I can’t wait for the update. I do some SEO, but I don’t like it. I’d rather have the extra time on generating content. My only fear is the update won’t work as intended. After all, how is Google going to differentiate quality content. Surely not word count. Social media indications? That’s ripe for SEO and manipulation. Back link quality? Already claims this is the case and works to some degree. How then, will Google differentiate quality websites? I’m hoping for the best.

  • Pamela says:

    Too many keywords make the content sound like non sense. I think it is good Google is making changes to its search engine

  • Maysel03 says:

    Of course the problem is that not everyone is trying to build a long-term, sustainable business, so they’ll do whatever they can to ensure short term financial gain over long term business, amongst the worst offenders being those adSense sites that offer nothing of any value.

  • Chris Barker says:

    We’re in the same ground with Stacey. My thoughts did not concentrate more to SEO but to my readers who are the very important ingredients in my business online. What I write is mainly for my readers- to feed their appetite.

  • I think this is so needed for writers, content developers and site visitors. Sites need to rewarded for content and not clever tricks designed to reward those who can guess algorhythms and how to trick them. I’m tired of the SEO dance anyway. Of course it will continue but those who just focus on content will be fine.

  • Iliana says:

    That is a bit scary, although I believe that if a site doesn’t use any black hat SEO techniques it will be ok with those updates. Google’s experts are not stupid and what they want to do is to penalize spammer and not the legitimate sites.

  • Jane

    With this update Google has hit the sites that have an unnatural backlink pattern and sites that did too much SEO. One of my niche sites was hit and I was using BMR to build backlinks! Gotta see what will happen now.

  • Jack Keenan says:

    One thing I’m _not_ going to do is start ripping through my website’s code trying to figure out whether I’m “over-optimizing” without any kind of guideline. That’s just responding out of fear and I bet that the vast majority of the people reading this post have nothing to worry about. Ultimately, are you designing your website to provide a great experience for its visitors? I think you’ll be fine if that’s the case.

  • planetvic says:

    Hi, I recently started a new website for my music and I am using Drupal. I have decided to use some seo, but not go overboard like page title, meta keywords and description and I don’t use the automatic web address feature for the address of the page, I shorten it so it sticks to the topic. I think the best approach to SEO is you need it, but don’t go over the top and add lots of keywords here and there. All I can say is try to write great pages and use some seo.

  • Harleena Singh

    Informative post!

    I have been hearing a great deal about the Google changes coming around and how we all need to be careful about not overdoing our SEO and things like that. However, I really wonder what is their criteria for overdoing things as there aren’t really any specifications laid out anywhere.

    I liked your recommendations how not to overdo it and be careful on certain things. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Steve

    Good article, and a little info from the man himself (Matt C.) I hope these changes will help the small site owners. We all try to compete with the big boys but can not afford to. There has been a lot of keyword usage info going around for the last few years, that now might have been a little over done.

    Like others have said, I will inspect some of my older articles, but I will not re-write my sites.

    It will be interesting to see the outcome of this and if Big C offers any new guide lines.


  • Dragos says:

    Indeed a over optimized article for SEO can be more damaging after the lest Google updates. With the last panda update you have to be more careful with the links that you are building and the keyword density that you use.

    The overly SEO’ed list proposed listed in the article is very good and every one has to be very careful and take it into consideration if they don’t wan’t to be penalized by Google.

  • I also agree that SEO would be higher in demand as it is redefined. SEO is not just about keywords or link building, rather it must be a strategic process which is different from business to business. It must be a strategic marketing and planning part for your website to facilitate it for better usability and better reach by using various online channels. Creating quality content, distributing it effectively, building natural online trust and branding are crucial. SEO must focus for overall growth of a business rather than giving a website top rank just for 5-10 keywords.

  • Bishal Sh says:

    I still can’t understand the limitation of SEO. There are various process needed to be done for a complete SEO and it is not a single day task.

  • Ranjith says:

    Now I wonder how does a person know the extent to which a site should be SEO optimised. If we forget about backlinks, wont Google too forget about our site?

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