The New Google Smackdown: Bye Bye Over-Optimized Websites

Don't get penalized by the new Google spider.

SEO for Central PA and beyond.

Danny Sullivan, editor and chief of Search Engine Land broke the story first.  Any day now Google will release a focused new algorithm update whose sole purpose is to seek out and penalize over optimized websites. Should you be wary of Google’s impending update? What exactly is an over-optimized site?

1. An over optimized site has too may keywords says Matt Cutts, head of the webspam team at Google. For example, let’s say your company wants to market to Lancaster, New Oxford, Abbottstown, Hanover, Gettysburg, York, Harrisburg, and Camp Hill Pennsylvania. Well, that’s a mighty long list of keywords. An outdated or uneducated web designer or SEO company will litter a list like this throughout your site – in your meta data (the hidden area only search engines read), behind your photos, in your header and footer, and throughout your content. Cutts says these websites will get the smackdown.

2. An over optimized site has exchanged too many links, according to Cutts. Did your website or SEO company participate in a link exchange program on your behalf? If you’re not sure, you’d better find out. Very soon, websites with an overabundance of backlinks acquired from link exchange sources will feel the pain.

According to Cutts, one of the best things you can do is remove low quality content (like long keyword lists) from your site and replace it with compelling, useful content which answers visitor questions and inspires visitor actions. If a user finds the answer to his/her search question on a website, he/she will not bounce out, return to search, and click further search results. Instead, he/she will stick around, showing Google this website answered a query with useful content. The result: This visitor is happy. Sullivan reminds us, “You have to think beyond signals that are just SEO: They (search engines) are extracting sentiment now. ” In other words, it matters whether visitors are happy or annoyed. Social sharing, leaving a comment, spending time, signing up, and visiting more than one page are all indicators of visitor happiness.

If you’re concerned about Google’s upcoming algorithm change, email me at [email protected] I’ll look over your website content and code (for free) and let you know if I see any keyword stuffing, weak content, or other visitor deterrents.

To learn more about the difference between low quality content vs. compelling, useful content, check out these posts:

Your Content Marketing Core Matters

Six Content Marketing Myths – Digital Marketing Wisdom for Businesses

6 SEO Ripoff Dead GiveAways: Don’t let that Marketer Make a Clown out of You

Corporate Content Marketing for Best in Class Results

Content Marketing: What it is and Why it Works

The Creative Marketing Channel belongs to oz 2 designs LLC – a small, flexible, full service digital marketing agency.  Connect with us on YouTubeLinkedinTwitterGoogle+and Facebook or call us at 717-586-8386. Email us at [email protected] Catherine Lockey oz2designs @oz2designs

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About Catherine Lockey

Catherine Lockey @oz2designs | oz 2 designs LLC

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20 Responses to The New Google Smackdown: Bye Bye Over-Optimized Websites

  1. Catarina Alexon March 27, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    Thank you Google, about time. Far too many crappy web sites get away with over-optiizing. For instance a lot of affiliate marketing sites that should be at the bottom of Google search end up higher thanks to these tricks.

    Thank you for sharing Catherine. Great to know Google will crack down on such sites.

  2. Sandra McLeod Humphrey March 27, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Thanks, Catherine, and what a generous offer!

  3. John March 27, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Great blog post. I never understood all this SEO and keyword stuff but it’s true that there are many sites and bloggers who only care about how many hits they get instead of concentrating on good quality content. It’s not worth blogging if you don’t love what you do.
    Would this new algorithm not be a good thing?

  4. Martha Steward March 27, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    Thank you for this information, O Boy!!! I am not a techy with all those SEO, backlinks, really have no idea about this, and personally it a little bit of a nail biter for me. I would like to talk about this new google agenda. Thank you again for the information.

  5. Catherine Lockey March 27, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    It’s definitely a good thing John. Can’t wait to see how it all pans out.

  6. Catherine Lockey March 27, 2012 at 10:19 am #

    What are your questions Martha? Feel free to email me or post them here.

  7. Sherryl Perry March 27, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    Catherine, I had heard about the penalty for keyword stuffing but I was unaware that Google is also checking for backlinks. I have no worries there but I’m relieved to know that this tactic will no longer work. That’s great news for the rest of us.

    As sites are penalized do you think this could have a positive affect on the rest of us as far as page rank goes? I’m wondering if as some sites drop, others will rise.

  8. Catherine Lockey March 27, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    Sherryl, I definitely see sites with useful content that answer visitor queries rising. Enjoy the ride. :)

  9. Bill Leachman March 27, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    Catherine, Thanks for sharing. I also really appreciate the fact that Google created the Google Panda algorithm, last year. With Google having over 500 algorithm changes last year, alone, it is important for a top notch SEO company to stay on top of these changes. Whenever I hear an SEO company talk about being able to rank #1 on Google, guaranteed! I like to know how are they dealing with all these algorithm changes.

  10. Catherine Lockey March 27, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    Should be fun to watch this one roll out Bill.

  11. Stan March 27, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    I recently got slapped by google for being too commercial. They told me I had ten ads on my site. I did, but eight of them were Adsense ads. It’s interesting that they can put up to 11 ads on a page, but they penalize us if we put 10 on, and eight show up on two adsense ads.

  12. Catherine Lockey March 27, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    Yes, ironically Google will penalize you if there are too many ads on a page – especially above the fold – even if they are Adsense ads.

  13. Andrew broadbent March 27, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    Nice article Catherine.

  14. Dennis Salvatier March 28, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    I read about this the other day, and although I’m in the safe zone, I don’t understand how google feels inconveniencing people like this is worth it. I understand the goal, but I wonder about the approach. Thanks for sharing, Catherine.

  15. Catherine Lockey March 28, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    I see what you’re saying. There will be a lot of people who, unbeknownst to them, hired a shady SEO company who will lose rank. Most of them will have paid thousands of dollars for links. Google is trying to level the playing field for people who create authentic content so expect your website to see a jump in traffic Dennis. This will be quite good for your business.

  16. Susan Oakes March 28, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    It is a good move obviously Catherine. This is what I do not get or fully understand is how Google can take subjective data and rate it. For example if an article is short and the person gets the information they want but decide to search more as they are just interested is that going to penalise the site that had the short article which was read quickly? I guess the real question is how can they realistically quantify sentiment.

  17. Catherine Lockey March 29, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Hi Susan, I imagine Google came up with sentiment signals by observing behaviors or actions of interested searchers and worked these specific behaviors into their algorithm. Realistic? In a broad sense yes.

  18. Coretta March 30, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    Catherine, this is great information. Although, my business website up and running yet, it’s good to have this information on the front-end. Wnen, I’m ready it will serve as a great screening tool for questions to ask of both the copywriter and the programmer. Thanks, I will forward this information along.

  19. Ray March 31, 2012 at 1:10 am #

    I am still not sure what they mean by too many keywords. Such as are they talking site wide, or just per page, too many meta keywords in page headers, and that kind of thing. And, the whole link exchange thing I am guessing they are referring to purposely exchanging links with other sites. Not one way backlinks such as a comment on someones blog for example.

    I do optimize, but I don’t think I do anything out of the ordinary or too much of it. I do some backlinking, but not excessive. I know some people do much more of both than I do so I am hoping I am good to go. Still it is something that concerns me and that I will follow for a while.

  20. Caleb March 31, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    That is what Matt Cutts is saying the update is for, but I think they are going to take it a step farther and penalize sites that have their pages perfectly optimized for one keyword. This is very common, but still spam in most peoples eyes.

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