No one ever anticipates an over-optimized website would cause problems, but too many SEO efforts can negatively impact your website’s performance. Usually, over-optimization occurs when a user or an AI-created web design includes too many SEO improvements at one time.
If SEO improvements aren’t included naturally, it flags Google bots. Fortunately, it’s easy to avoid the consequence of poor SEO practices if you know the signs of an over-optimized site.
Top 8 Signs Your Website is Over-Optimized
If your lack of expertise landed you in search engine jail in the first place, consider hiring a website designer. Or, you could fix the following issues that may be affecting your ranking.
1. Decreased Rankings
If you notice a drop in ranking despite putting a lot of effort into optimizing your site, you may have been penalized by Google. Stuffing your website full of keywords isn’t going to cut it; you need to offer high-quality content and a stable backlink velocity, or you’ll continue to drop.
2. Unreadable Content
Content creators have to make blog posts that appeal to their user base first and foremost. SEO is important, but it can’t keep your users interested in your content. There’s no point bringing people in through search if they’re immediately leaving the site due to lack of interest.
Factors like average time on page and bounce rate are taken into account by Google when deciding your search engine ranking, so don’t rely on keywords for website optimization.
3. Decreased ROI
When your website stops ranking, it stops making money. If your optimization efforts are yielding diminishing returns, you have to shift gears. Optimization is a marathon, not a sprint, so you need to focus on your long-term goals, not initial returns, to maintain a positive ROI.
4. High Bounce Rates
There are several reasons why your users are suddenly jumping ship. Maybe your metal title is misleading, or perhaps your site runs poorly on mobile. Whatever the case, you need to address this issue immediately by scanning your content. Is it readable? Interesting? Engaging?
For example, H1s should only be used for titles. If they’re used for every section, users will be confused about which section is more important, leading to a poorer user experience.
5. Unnatural Internal Linking
Internal linking is a great way to reduce bounce rate, but many websites make the mistake of adding unnatural language as anchor text. For example, “buy green jackets – size sm/m/lg/xl” will tell Google that you’re using gibberish in your articles to possibly extend the word count.
What’s more, natural language tends to rank higher on Google. Use “Small,” not “sm” for your hyperlinks and change up the anchor text each time you use a link to reach a wider audience.
6. Spammy Links
Other websites may use your blog posts for SEO, but it will negatively affect your ranking if low-quality websites consistently use your content. Google values quality over quantity, even from sites that piggyback off your website, so diversify your link profile where possible.
To see who’s linking to your website, use a backlink checker. You’ll have to contract each webmaster to ask them to remove the links. If that doesn’t work, try disavowing them.
7. Too Many Homepage Links
Linking to your homepage won’t help with SEO because they’re there to introduce your users to your business. Search engines prefer it when websites link to specific content that expands users’ knowledge. Plus, if you redirect to your blog, you’ll have more opportunities to build links.
8. Stuffed Footers
Footers should not look like a sitemap. Footers are meant to direct users to information that isn’t directly privy to them, like privacy policies and disclaimers. If you have dozens of links in your footer, Google will assume you’re gaming the system and plummet your ranking.