Google: Over Optimization Will Hurt! Owie!

I’ve always learned that overdoing your SEO can hurt you in the search results. But last week at the SXSW conference in Austin, TX, Matt Cutts said that Google has tweaked the algorithm to penalize sites for over-optimization. He said:

Chris Hooley drinkbaiting Matt Cutts

Image via Wikipedia

“We try to make the GoogleBot smarter, try to make our relevance more adaptive, so that if people don’t so SEO we handle that. And we are also looking at the people who abuse it, who put too many keywords on a page, exchange way too many links, or whatever else they are doing to go beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.”

So, Google isn’t just concerned about your on-site SEO, but also about your off-site SEO, as well.

The days when you should go out and buy 500 links in one month is long over. You know those sites I’m talkingĀ  about, right? I’ve always known that the hammer would drop on those. You can’t build links too quickly or Google knows something is up and BOOM! You’re in deep doo-doo.

But Google isn’t saying exactly when this will go into effect, only that it will sometime within the month.

This also has a lot to do with LSI that we’ve heard so much about in recent years or “latent semantic indexing.” Google is getting much better at it all the time (in fact, the L is going away), and it means that keywords aren’t going to be as important as they are now, or not nearly as important as they have been in the past. Googlebot will understand what your content piece is about, just because of the words you use to write about your topic.

For example:

I’m writing about SEO. Googlebot would recognize words like LSI, algorithm, keywords, etc. and realize that’s what my post is about. Keywords are less needed to determine what a page is about.

Through this penalty, Google is trying to level the playing field. Not every company can afford to hire or knows SEO very well. So, you’re going to see newbies who know no better, as well as high-profile companies that hire teams of SEOs collecting tons of links being penalized.

The whole deal with Google is this:

Don’t try to game the system and you’won’t pay the price. Google wants to see you use your keywords in your titles and descriptions and in the body of your content, but not so much that it’s unreadable. Google wants you to get links to your website, but wants them to occur naturally, over time. And Google wants you to spread the word about your business through social media and social content, but not 500 articles appearing in a short span. You see?

Everything in moderation and you’ll be fine. Nothing new, just a solid reminder.

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