The following post is from Jaci Gentile, TIG Global SEO Coordinator.
A new Google algorithm change that will penalize sites that are over-optimized or “overly SEO’ed,” is in the works and may be taking effect in the upcoming weeks.
Matt Cutts, head of Google’s web spam team, announced the ranking penalty during a recent panel at SXSW when an audience member asked how search engines deal with sites that may have the most relevant content for a query, but are being beaten out by larger, highly-optimized sites with many resources devoted to SEO. Cutts said Google is looking to “level the playing field” between those who make great content and great sites and those who simply optimize well:
“We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect.”
It’s great news for those who might not have a large SEO budget, but what about the sites that have poured resources into a comprehensive optimization strategy? Should those site owners be worried about receiving a penalty and possibly dropping from search results even after all their hard work?
Well, it all depends on what kind of SEO you’ve been doing.
Modern-day SEO is a blend of architecture and psychology. The technical aspect of making your site’s infrastructure crawlable and indexible by search engines has been the foundation of SEO since its beginnings and, from the looks of it, won’t be changing anytime soon. Linking structure and keywords still prove to be an important part of the process, but as search engines become more advanced and more focused on serving users, understanding the person behind the search terms is becoming vital to success.
The ability to provide users with an answer to their question or need should be the main goal behind every search strategy. Google and other engines notice sites that can provide that answer quickly and thoroughly, and reward them with top rankings and great visibility. Those who become focused on how the bots see their site and what the algorithm may or may not take into account completely miss the human aspect of search. Those are the types of sites that will be hurt with this update.
In the end, if your site has a strong foundation and is optimized not for complicated search engine algorithms, but for the people who use those search engines, Google’s latest algorithm shake-up should be nothing to fear.
Interested in ramping up your online strategy? Check out the full suite of TIG Global interactive marketing tools, send us an email, or give us a call +1 301.841.4700(US) | +44 (0)20 3004 9468(UK).