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The risk of over-optimization

Many webmasters overlook an important part of search engine optimization: if you over-optimize your web pages, chances are that your website rankings might drop because your site has been designed for search engines and not for web surfers.

How can Google find out that a web site is over-optimized?

Google has an algorithm that detects over-optimized websites. The detected websites are downranked in the Google search results. This over-optimization filter in Googles ranking algorithm is also called the "-950 penality" because that is what usually happens to over-optimized web pages: they are downrankied 950 positions.

Google's anti-spam engineer Matt Cutts published a video in which he also mentions over-optimization as a reason for ranking problems.

Is your website over-optimized?

Some "SEO experts" recommend that you should have H1 tags on your web sites in any case. Others say that you must have this element and that element on your web pages.

If you follow the advice of all of these experts then it's likely that your web pages are over-optimized. Don't listen to everything you hear in SEO forums.

How to avoid over-optimization

It depends on your keywords, on your competition and on many other factors if you should use special elements on your website or not. For example, it might make sense not to use the H1 tag on your web pages if other factors are more important for your keyword.

This is why we developed the top 10 optimizer tool. The top 10 optimizer tool analyzes the web pages that currently have a top 10 ranking for your keyword. Since these pages have top 10 rankings, they must have done something right.

IBP analyzes the top ranked pages and then it tells you in plain English how to change your own web pages so that your site can get top 10 rankings. IBP analyzes on-page factors as well as the structure of the inbound links.

IBP's recommendations are based on the analysis of the current top 10 results and they are specifically for your keyword, your website and Google (or any other search engine that you specify). IBP only recommends special web page elements if they are successfully used by top ranked web pages.

In contrast to other tools, IBP does not give general advice that often leads to over-optimization.

Over-optimizing your web pages can harm your rankings on Google and other major search engines. Use the right tools to find out how to optimize your web pages without upsetting Google.

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June 2007 search engine articles