What Is Over Optimization

Google's Over-Optimization Penalty - How to Avoid It

Many of you are aware that Google a while back instituted what they termed an over-optimization penalty, which basically went after webmasters that were trying to lift their pages in the search results by virtue of manipulating the keyword density of the page, regardless of whether it had any value for the reader.

This played out with folks being told to build their pages using a keyword density of between 2.5 and 5 percent for their primary keyword. The problem was, at least for a lot of of us using WordPress and similar blogging platforms as our content management system, we now know that:

WordPress isn't so "out-of-the-box SEO ready" as we thought!

WordPress injects lots of keywords into your content that you probably aren't aware of. Once you count up all the instances where your primary keyword shows up, from the titles, H1, H2 and H3 tags, post tags, archives, recent posts widgets and breadcrumbs just to name a few, you can easily have more than 30 mentions of your primary keyword on the page before you've written it one time in your main content. Not to mention the links to your page that are anchored with that keyword. Google looks at the whole enchilada when figuring out how to rank your pages.

So what can you do to avoid this?

Never fear, we've found some great tips to avoid over-optimization in WordPress.

  • Don't ever use tags again! - Tags and especially tag clouds inflate your keyword density beyond belief. Get out of the habit!
  • Remove the author link from your template - That little link simply generates another duplicate version of your post, inviting trouble.
  • Sweep up the breadcrumbs! - Breadcrumb navigation is another useless addition of keywords injected into the mix for no apparent reason.
  • Don't duplicate your navigation - Often times we'll have a top nav menu together with the same thing duplicated on the sidebar. You don't need both, unless you're fond of over-optimization penalties!
  • Kill the recent posts widget - Another instance of your template contributing to your ranking demise!

Check out this terrific post for even more tips on how to artfully avoid the Google over-optimization penalty!

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