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Stop Over Optimizing Your Websites, Or Else

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Posted by Dave Lauretti on March 17, 2012

Well to a lot of ethical SEOs, the announcement by Matt Cutts that Google will be implementing an over-optimization penalty to websites that are trying to rig the system, is indeed good news.

Google’s head of the webspam team, Matt Cutts, made this announcement in a panel session at SXSW named Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better! The session involved representatives from BING (Duane Forrester), Search Engine Land (Danny Sullivan) and Google (Matt Cutts) who discussed ways of building better websites – websites that work for users and the search engines.

If you listen to the audio at the link above you can hear what Matt says about the over-optimization penalty but I’ve quoted the main part of it below.

So all those people who have sort of been doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly doing their SEO, compared to the people who are just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site, we want to sort of make that playing field a little bit more level. And so that’s the sort of thing where we try to make Google Bot smarter, we try to make our relevance more adaptive so that people don’t do SEO…and we also start to look at the people who abuse it, whether they throw to many keywords on a page or whether they exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect.

So what can we take from this? For one thing, over-optimization is considered spam – especially considering Google’s webspam team leader (Matt Cutts) made this announcement. Second, apparently something big is coming to Google search in the very near future.

Too Many Keywords

Keyword stuffing content, code or in articles has been going on since the beginning of search engine optimization and the reason Google and other search engines aren’t happy about this aspect of SEO is because their objective is to provide great content to their users and just because an website has great SEO applied to it, it doesn’t actually equate to a useful and relavent experience for the user.

What About Too Many Links Exchanges?

If you listen to the audio at the link above you’ll hear how Matt through that into the mix of over-optimization scenarios. Currently there is quite a bit of debate as to whether too many links are pointing to your websites too fast can hurt your rankings. Some say it can, other say it can’t. In my opinion Matt included link exchanges only as a quick example but wasn’t willing to go into too much detail about it or the other factors that could be considered over-optimization.

We’ll just have to see over the next few months what SEOs and non-SEOs alike are saying about their rankings. If your website or websites suddenly take a dip in rankings and remain there for some time you may be able to make a determination as to what has caused this and then make the necessary changes to the kind of SEO services you provide.

Does Google Hate SEO?

In the same session Matt explains that Google does not hate SEOs at all and displayed his appreciation for SEOs who make sites more crawlable, more accessible and more user-friendly but, in the same breath, he expressed his dismay that there are those that go overboard and are doing too well when in fact they shouldn’t be – because there are other sites that most likely provide better content. The latter are the websites that will be affected by the new update which is coming within the next few weeks to the next couple of months.

What Should We Expect?

Well I’m going to make a pretty big assumption here but it’s my opinion that not only will spammers and keyword stuffing SEOs be penalized, but we may being seeing a hidden connection with Google’s attempt to penalize spammers and it’s desire to harness the power of the semantic web.

From the news we got this week about future developments with Google search as of now there’s no reason to believe that these two developments are not connected. Let’s see how my prediction turns out.

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