It looks like SEO pros will now have more to worry about. In addition to optimizing a website for better search engine rankings, they need to be careful not to over-optimize it. Earlier this month during a South by South West (SXSW) open panel, Google’s spam top cop, Matt Cutts, announced that the search engine giant will introduce new algorithm changes which will penalize websites that are deemed “over-optimized”. The new update is expected to be rolled out sometime within the next few weeks.
According to Cutts, the new change will serve to level the playing ground. Deep-pocketed site owners, who spend substantial amounts of cash to excessively optimize their web property, will no longer have an advantage over those with smaller budgets but who present good, solid content with regards to a particular search term.
Cutts added that the change will attempt to make spiders detect websites by people who “sort of abuse it, whether they throw too many keywords on the page, or whether they exchange way too many links, whatever they’re doing to sort of go beyond what a normal person would expect in a certain area…”
Staying true to past practices, Google’s representative didn’t offer much in terms of what marketers should look to avoid, or modify, in order to stay within the search engine’s good graces. Sure, Cutts did mention the bit about the keywords and links, but SEO pros have, for quite a while now, been aware of the fact that keyword stuffing and link exchanges were frowned upon by Google. There has to be other aspects of “over-optimization” that are going to be taken into account for this to merit an algorithm update, as well as “several engineers on my team working on that right now”, as stated by Cutts.
One can speculate but no one, other than Google, really knows. If I had to guess, I would say that those who focus on top-notch content first and foremost, then work on the SEO part should be immune to the change. Those who do the opposite can expect to see their rankings take a bit of a hit. And in all honesty, that’s the way it should be. Many, myself included, give Google a lot of flak for things like being too secretive and anti-marketers, but if they’re successful in cleaning up some of the drivel that comes up in the SERPs, then they will be deserving of a lot of kudos.
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