Though details remain a mystery people are talking about mention from Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, that Google is rolling out an algorithm change to target “over optimized” websites. The specifics have not been laid out, and it is likely they will not be anytime soon.
There has been quite the buzz about an update to the Google algorithm that is specifically targeting search engine optimization. In early March, Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, announced that the search engine behemoth would be specifically targeting sites that are pushing the envelope when it comes to SEO.
What constitutes over doing it in SEO?
That is a good question, and unless you are directly involved with Google and their efforts in this matter, the specifics will likely go unknown. Most SEO professionals have a pretty solid gauge when it comes to what constitutes SEO as a supplement to strong, authoritative content, and what is spam. The spammy content, such as overuse of keywords, and using CSS and other tricks to hide text will likely be targeted, though much of that was already demoted in the rankings with the Panda update in 2011.
Those adhering to what are predominately considered “white-hat” SEO practices should be ok. The fact is that the power of an over-abundance of keywords is losing ground to quality, authoritative content as we move forward. This does not mean that some sites with quality content will not be penalized, but as a whole, Google claims that they are simply aiming to “level the playing field” in the quest for higher rankings.
When is the algorithm update rolling out?
Again, good question. There have been reports online of companies seeing considerable, sudden drops in rankings that they cannot explain in any way other than changes by Google, but as of mid-March, Google denied that any updates had been made. The likelihood that we will get an announcement from Google at any point regarding changes targeting SEO is highly unlikely. At best, we will look for a passing comment somewhere down the road from someone on the inside that indicates whether the algorithm has been updated in this way or not. Google likes to keep us guessing, but we all know every large company has its secrets, which are often the keys to their success.
What should you do?
Simply put, don’t overdo it with SEO. If you think you might be overdoing it, you probably are, and eventually the site will be penalized. This is certainly not the end of organic rankings; it is more the beginning of organic rankings achieved through a better mix of SEO and quality content. It may mean some adjustments on the part of some SEO pros and Internet marketers, but as stated before, those that are focused on quality content have little to worry about.
Quality content is ultimately what visitors to any website are hoping to find. Marketing efforts, including SEO, are important to driving visitors to the site, though they cannot be a substitute for good content. Many sites with high rankings due to over optimization and poor content likely see high bounce rates anyway. Whether SEO is being done in house or through an outside SEO company, it would be wise to evaluate the current strategies.