How to identify SEO Over Optimized blog or website?

SEO Over-optimizationIf you were anywhere near this blog or other blogs about SEO and stuff these past few days, then you'll know what the fuss is all about with Google's updates. Google has been pretty active lately, what with the Penguin and Panda and 50 other minor updates. In essence, it has been going to great lengths to return good quality search results to users. Google is coming down, and coming down hard on "spam" websites that are over-optimized with respect to SEO. We've been hearing a lot about this "over-optimized" thing. So what exactly is SEO over-optimization? And how do you know when your site, or some other site is over-optimized?

Penguin and Panda Series
Part5: How to identify SEO Over Optimized blog or website?

NooseNow SEO over-optimization is not a good thing. If you are using such tactics, then stop immediately! I know some sites have found loopholes in Google's algorithms, and are exploiting them with over-optimization, but that doesn't mean you have to do the same. Who knows when the noose will tighten? Search Engine (over-) Optimizers might be winning battles and skirmishes, but it's a war they cannot win.

Head of Google's web-spam team, Matt Cutts, said in March that Google has been working on penalizing overly optimized sites for the past few months. He explained that with this, Google plans to level the battlefield so that no one has an advantage, and the top rankings are determined by brute strength, i.e. good content, rather than cunning tricks (black hat SEO). This way, sites with little SEO but good content will come up, while sites with extra SEO but poor content will go down. So let's now talk about what things entail over-optimization, and how you can detect or avoid it.

What an over optimization penalty entails?

Despite clear statements from Google such as "crackdown on black hat SEO", the idea as to what actually incurs Google's displeasure is still vague. Google doesn't let people in on the secrets. As they said;
While we can’t divulge specific signals because we don’t want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics
But gathering facts from the messages and notices Google has been putting out, we can get a general idea as to what things we should avoid. Here are some over optimization practices that you need to stay away from.

Bad inbound links

Recently, Google started giving out lots of warning messages to webmasters through the Webmaster tool, informing them about some bad linking structures with their sites. Here at MBT, we always discourage buying backlinks. These are bad, automated links. So take a look at what sort of links you have. Start using Google Webmaster Tool to get notified.

Another fairly common practice is making inbound links from other websites one might own. Usually, people create multiple sites to supplement their main site. These sites, of course are low quality. Some people might even employ automated mechanisms to make these side-websites look genuine. So if you have links coming to your website from other sites you own, then this practice falls into the category of over-optimization.

Link anchor text is also very important. Anchor text is the text that displays instead of the actual link. For example, Google is the anchor text for the link Now if many of your inbound links have the same anchor text, then it hints at automation. This usually happens when you buy backlinks, which is why you should never do that.

Cloaking and hidden text

Now you might not be aware about you backlinks, but you sure as hell know what you are doing when you hide or cloak some content. This is a ruthless black hat SEO technique. Cloaking means hiding some content from the search engine, or displaying a version of some text to the search engine that is different from the one presented to the user. This is usually used in over-promotion, phishing, etc.

Hidden text is text that is made invisible to the readers so that they can't see what they're clicking on. This trick can be achieved by playing around with colors. For example, white text won't show against a white background. These techniques are unethical, and cheap. And you should never use them.

High keyword density

Using too many keywords in your titles, meta descriptions, intro paragraphs etc is considered as over-optimization, since putting up more keywords is a desperate attempt at gaining a search engine's attention. Google has started penalizing sites that have a high keyword density. Usually, anything above 2-3% density is high.

Excessive interlinking

Interlinking content within your site is a great SEO practice. We always recommend people to interlink more often. But there's a catch. In an attempt for over-optimization, some webmasters interlink so much that there are more than a couple links in any given post pointing at the same page. And to make matters worse, they might even link repeatedly to their home pages. Well that, my friends, is a recipe for disaster.

Improper heading structure

H1 tags are a lot more appealing to search engines than other tags. So some people use multiple h1 tags to gain attention. Well that is just plain wrong. Always use one, and only one h1 tag per page. Use h2 and h3 tags for headings and subheadings.

Too many redirects

Now if you have changed the file name for a page, then redirects are okay. But redirecting just for the sake of gaining ad income or directing you to affiliate pages is just sad. Too many redirects, and Google will catch you spamming.

Duplicate content

It often happens that those who are unable to write good quality content, they resort to these over optimization tactics. And since they don't have much content to write about, they re-use their content a lot. While quotes and stuff are okay, but copying paras from old posts and rephrasing them is wrong.


You know someone's desperate when you see pop-up ads on their websites. While pop-ups themselves are bad, some webmasters make it even worse. They deceive users by designing an exit 'cross' button where a cross would normally be. And when someone wants to close the ad, they click this button, which is actually a link to an ad or something. While this ensures a high click-through rate, it is highly unethical, and must never be used.

Well, here were the basic over-optimization tactics that you should avoid. If you are using them, then I'd advice you to let go of them. If you've been hit by Google as a result of these tactics, you can always read other posts in this series to get a better idea. Good luck with your Panda and Penguin recovery :)

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  1. thanks for this great post qasim thanks a lot

  2. Thank you so much for all the helpful information. I've closely following this series, indeed 'Quality is always the king' :)


  3. i want to ask u one thing ..........above u said that we should not use keywords more then 2-3% i do the same but i have problem regarding long tail keyword nd single word m writing on apple i pad 3 then obviously the word apple will have more density in my article around 8-9 percent wat to do with this ,the 3% keyword rule is also applicable to single word keyword like apple ...............:)

  4. Hello,

    Very nice blog I read it and inspire with get valuable information thanks for sharing good carry on.

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  5. I wanted to comment about "duplicate content" - and legitimate uses that MAY be unfairly penalized. I have subscribed to several content syndication services (PetitChef, Wellsphere, etc.) and they go through your RSS and import an exact copy of your post which google might see as duplicate content. I have already "trimmed" my RSS feed to feed these sites only the introduction to the post, but there are legacy copies out there - I'm contacting these sites one by one to ask them to remove it but... they might not even respond and my page rank is likely affected by it!

    So, when removing duplicate content think about the affect any kind of similar service that you signed up for and is doing it for you.

    I had to ask myself, "are these services bringing me more traffic than google?" The answer was NO but they could be negatively affecting my page-rank so now time to figure out how to extricate myself from them!


  6. Thank you for the post, Qasim. Are you sure, that using H1 more than once is bad? I often use in articles several H1,H2,H3 to improve my structure, beacuse my articles are usually long - more that 2000 words. Otherwsie, I don't use any of the other over-optimisations that you mention. Should I convert all of my headings and subheadings to avoid penalty?

    Thank you in advance.

  7. Nice post Qasim. Thanks for the share.

  8. @Puneet Tyagi
    Well, you are right, but single keywords can be forgiven. You should still keep them down. Like use the word Apple in the start of a paragraph, and refer to them as "they", or "the company" etc.

  9. @Веселин КисьовYes, you should just use one h1 in a post. If you want to use bigger headings, then you should edit your template css to make the h2s look bigger or something

    1. I am using h1 tag for post-title entry.. It is only one in .item_page, but static, archv, label search page h1 repeat multiple time for each post.
      is it harmful?

      My blog

  10. @Веселин КисьовYes, you should just use one h1 in a post. If you want to use bigger headings, then you should edit your template css to make the h2s look bigger or something

  11. Hi Qazim. Nice to read your article here. Just wanna to ask about linking to our other post in some website. I've read some ebooks that show me the technique to make internal pyramid linking in our blog. All the article was given from lower level keyword (long tail). And let's thinking,how much the total link of the bottom of the Pyramid structure? I can give sample it's about 5-7 seven link to upper level. What do you think about that? it's good for Penguin update? According my experience it's work perfectly for Panda but I've never try to Penguin update.

    And the second case, what about linking to self page? It's good or bad for Penguin? Have you suggestion for this problem.

    **sorry for some written mistake, English is not my language.



  12. Hi, where did you read about "Improper heading structure" and "Pop-ups" as part of penguin? I would really like to see where this "speculation" came from? Google blog,matt cutt twitter,G+,Googlewebmasterhelp youtube? or just 2cents of yours? I'm eager to know learn from you..

  13. Hi i have tried Seo like Meta tags etc. Still i have not got any visitors from google.

    My site:

  14. The knowledge on your website never confuses me.
    link building

  15. Will you tell about my site that it is over optimized or not. Is there any tool to check this. Your suggestion is best. This can not be checked manually.

    Abhishek Raj
    My site: My Blogger Tips And Tricks

    4 Ways To Interact Visitors With Your Blog

  16. Good content does not need optimization but will be shared naturallly ..but my friend this will take a lot of time ...

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  17. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic.

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  18. I wanted to have some good stuff on keyword search like you have provided in this blog, I really appreciate.

  19. Thanks Qasim !
    Using these practices have helped us in making our new official site of online degree courses completely Google friendly.
    The site is getting more and more exposure towards our keywords and search traffic and all credits goes to your guidance.

  20. A Google Panda Recovery Method for 2013

    The Panda & Penguine Penalty Evaluation and also Recovery Program” also it describes, in detail, the process that we've used to help a large number of clients recover from along with prosper primary Google penalties.

  21. Thanks for the info. It is great guide.

  22. congratulations guys, quality information you have given!!!
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  23. CompetitionI want to say thank to you people for this great and helpful info. Thanks!!!

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