Google Confirms That “SEO Over-Optimization” is a Legitimate Concern

As first published on Search Engine Roundtable, Google’s Gary Illyes said that SEO over optimization is, in fact, something SEO marketers should consider when making decisions.

Illyes, a webmaster trends analyst, replied to a tweet confirming that “over-optimization” is a legitimate concern that can result in a negative impact on rankings.

Gary Illyes’ Twitter

Over-optimization (also known as “overly SEO’ed”) penalties were first heard of back in 2012 when Google’s Matt Cutts shared that Google is working on a search ranking penalty for sites falling in this category.

The goal of the penalty was meant to create fairness amongst sites with varying levels of experience with SEO. This would mean that sites with quality content wouldn’t be hidden in favor of sites with lower quality content but better SEO.

Cutts’ 2012 announcement followed his 2009 video, where he stated there was no penalty for an over-optimized site but did acknowledge the perils of having an overly high keyword density as it can come across as spam.

Keyword density is just one way Google’s algorithm may sense a site has been overly SEO’ed. For example, Google can make this determination is if the title tag, inbound anchor text, and URL are all over-optimized, which may lead to a decrease to a site in SERP rankings. As an example, if your title tag and URL match identically, and the majority of your anchor text matches as well, you are likely over-optimizing.

Instead of over-optimizing SEO, experts recommend to instead focus on quality and what your audience would want to read. A focus on quality content is a way to earning Google’s attention by showcasing consistent content creation, giving Google more chances to rank your site more highly in search results.


If you are worried that your company’s website is over-optimized and fear penalties, reach out to Hall Analysis today and we can work with you on a focus on quality content.

Photo via Pexels

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