The title above is a bit of a misnomer. It’s not really possible to overdo your SEO. It is however possible to overdo what some people think of as being SEO. The problem comes when people forget that SEO is not an end unto itself. Rather, it’s a tool which is meant to bring people to your website where hopefully they’ll spend money and stay for a while.
When you forget about the ultimate goal of SEO and instead focus exclusively on seeing your page rank go and up and seeing your impressions go up without seeing people spending time on the site, you are overdoing your SEO.
Overdoing it With Videos and Photos
Here’s a classic example of overdoing your SEO efforts: you stuff your pages silly with tons of pictures and videos. Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with pictures and videos. They can be extremely effective tools for getting people to stay on your website longer (and hopefully make purchases of whatever it is you sell).
However, it is possible to overdo it. Putting 6 pictures and three videos on a page along with a bunch of flashing advertisements and 200 words of text may seem at first to be doing what you’re supposed to be doing – putting in tons of multimedia content. However, what you are actually doing is to make your page unappealing.
Obsessing Over Keyword Density
People who truly understand keyword density will ask for around 1% keyword density and no more than 2%. Now to an amateur, that sounds like miniscule amounts for keywords. The reality however is that if you do much more than 1% keyword density, your page begins to look spammy.
Going to 2% makes a page look like it was made for Google rather than for human beings. Going to 3 or 4% makes a page unreadable (remember that a keyword could be a 5 word phrase. This would mean effectively that every other word of a 500 word article is the keyword if you have 4% density).
Here’s a good rule of thumb: in a typical 400-500 word article, your keyword should appear in the first or second sentence, somewhere in the middle of the article and somewhere in the last paragraph. You really don’t need more than that and if you do make an effort to do more, your work risks looking spammy.
Stuffing Meta Tags with Keywords
Back when the Internet was still young, a really easy way to rank high was to stuff your meta tags with irrelevant keywords which were popular. That’s why Google ignores meta keyword tags today. However, they don’t ignore the title and description tags. They’ll display them if they’re written well.
But, they do ignore them as far as ranking is concerned, so you may as well write content there intended for human beings rather than for Google. Unfortunately, people become obsessed with meta tags and then stuff them with keywords thinking that it will somehow help their efforts to do SEO.
Being Overly Aggressive in Social Media
Here’s a myth I fell for when I started working with Twitter: You follow people and most of them will follow you back because it’s considered a courtesy to do it. Here’s the reality: people are tired of spam and when someone they don’t know suddenly follows hundreds or thousands of people at once, they know to ignore you as a potential spammer.
In my case, I was trying to provide real, useful content about personal finance for my personal finance blog. I wasn’t trying to spam, just to jump start my efforts. Fortunately, I didn’t go crazy and add 2,000 people at one time. I tried for 200. 180 of them have yet to follow me back.
I’m still hopeful though since I’ve changed how I do things, putting my own photo on my account rather than a logo and filling out a real bio. I also occasionally tweet ordinary status comments rather than just useful bits of information.
I’ve now managed to get myself lots of other followers who see value in what I have to offer and I continue to hope that those 180 people will see that I’m not a spammer and that I’m trying to offer real value. However, the bottom line is, overdoing your social media efforts is definitely a great way to overdo your SEO.
Chasing Every Link Imaginable
I’ve written about this before: you don’t want or need every possible link available. Nor should you be providing a list of links to other sites which link back to you. Google doesn’t like it and they look at such efforts as being highly suspect. And yet, people think that they must get links so they grab them any which way they can, ignoring the dangers of overdoing their SEO efforts.