What Is The Over Optimization Penalty?

By Mike Munter on June 02, 2012  

Google’s over-optimization penalty refers to using the same anchor text over and over to point links back to your site.

Using the same keyword or keyword phrase repetitively used to be a great way to signify to Google what your site was about and it was also a great way to move up in search results for that keyword.

Not anymore.

Since Google’s 2012 assault of keyword anchor text and link spam, you’ve got to really minimize the percentage of your links that include your target keyword.

Some authorities in SEO, such as SEO Moz and Searchengineland are recommending no more than 20% exact match anchor text.

I would recommend being more conservative, keeping exact match anchor text to 10% or less.

So How Do We Rank Our Site??

This is why on-page optimization is more important than ever.  When you create relevant links back to your site using your BRAND as the anchor text, you are establishing yourself as an authority and Google cannot overlook this.

Instead of stuffing every link back to your site with your keyword, Google will take its cue from the pages on your site.  This is why it is important to take the time to go through your site and check that your titles are clean, concise, and include your keyword.

Other On-Page Optimization Tips

It used to be standard practice to include keywords in your title, your header tags, your first sentence, your last sentence and your image alt tags.  Keyword density was also thought be crucial to ranking success, but no one could agree on what percentage was appropriate.

The problem today is that the same anchor text “over-optimization” that can get you in trouble with your link building can also get you in trouble with your on-page optimization.

Be smart about it.  Write for humans, not for search engines.

When we work on a clients site today, we only focus on four things:

1.  Title Tag – Short, descriptive titles that include the target keyword or keyword variation.  Aim for a title that tells exactly what the page is about and DO NOT repeat your keyword multiple times.  You are just asking for trouble.

2.  Image Alt Tags – Most people overlook the alt tag on an image.  We add an alt tag to every image to tell search engines what the image is.  If appropriate, we try to work the keyword into the tag.

3.  Internal Linking – Google’s quality guidelines suggest this is one of the most important things you can do to make your site more search engine friendly.

From Google:  Build your site with a logical link structure. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.

Plus, it just makes sense.  Look for the hooks on each page of your site that could lead smoothly to another page within your site.

4.  Grammar – This goes without saying, but a well-written site helps you to look more professional.  Typos, spelling errors and bad grammar turn people off and can lead them away from your site.

As you think about your SEO strategy for 2012 and beyond, make sure you are turning out the best possible high quality content that your readers will love.  Google is working hard to make sure that the best sites rank well within their niche.  Instead of spending a lot of time creating low quality links with repetitive anchor text, spend your time on sharing outstanding content and videos that educate and help your target customers get what they want.  Google will reward you for it and you will build your traffic.

We offer a free on page SEO guide which you can get here.


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