Too Much SEO? Google Set to Target “Over-Optimised” Websites

Too Much SEO?

It’s one of the hottest online practices around, but soon, websites with extensive SEO or Search Engine Optimisation will come under fire from Google for over-optimising their pages. Matt Cutts, the Head of Webspam at Google, revealed this month that Google is looking to refine their algorithms and penalise any page or website that is over-optimised purely for the purpose of gaining rankings.

This step is part of Google’s ongoing initiative to keep high-quality websites at the top of Google search results, as opposed to favouring sites that have simply over-optimised for the sake of it, without adding offering any or little benefit or value for customers.

As Cutts explained during the panel at Search Engine Land: “the idea is basically to try and level the playing ground a little bit.

So all those people who have sort of been doing, for lack of a better word, “over-optimisation” or “overly” doing their SEO, compared to the people who are just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site … we also start to look at the people who sort of abuse [SEO], whether they throw too many keywords on the page, or whether they exchange way too many links, or whatever they are doing to sort of go beyond what a normal person would expect in a particular area.”

Google’s penalty will be rolled out throughout the search engine in the coming weeks, according to Cutts, targeting sites that have poor content or little information but that are still appearing high on search engine results thanks to their SEO. The focus then moves towards promoting sites in search engine results that instead have good, quality content and value, but that don’t necessarily have the best SEO techniques in place.

However, Google has yet to reveal the exact terms and definitions of what ‘over-optimisation’ really is. Still, the move may see some website owners having to pull back dramatically on their SEO methodologies such as using too many keywords or having too many exchange links. Keyword stuffing and hidden text, for instance, are already part of Google’s spam indicators, so when it comes to these ‘over-optimising’ penalties, one will have to wait and see whether this anti-spam approach simply becomes more stringent or whether Google has added further flags to its algorithm – or both.

While some sites may not be necessarily using ‘blackhat’ techniques or suspect methodologies to boost their SEO (though some are), website owners need to be aware that their sites could still be penalised for over-optimisation. As such, this may also see a surge in interest in gaining the help of SEO agencies and consultants, whose primary focus is to create valuable content on sites, instead of just over-optimising them.

So how do you stop your site from being targeted? By focusing on building well designed, user-friendly websites that contain worthy content and lots of information for your customers. What you shouldn’t be doing – and what Google is looking to penalise – is looking for ways to increase your SEO and get your page to the top of Google rankings, while ignoring the need for quality content on your site. It’s not all that different from what Google have been trying to support all along – in short, over-optimising will get you nowhere if your site does not have something more to offer.

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Virginia is an SEO Specialist and Website Design Expert based in Sydney. Virginia's focus also covers Social Media and general marketing strategies on the Internet. Always happy to provide free advice to small business's. By Virginia Cottrell

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