The online marketing world is abuzz after remarks by Matt Cutts at the SXSW conference in March. Matt, the head of Google’s webspam team, said that they’re working on a plan to penalize sites that are “over-optimized.”
So what’s the difference between optimizing and over-optimizing? Let’s let Matt answer that:
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 optimization” or “overly” doing their SEO, compared to the people who are just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site, we want to sort of make that playing field a little bit more level...
We start to look at the people who sort of abuse it, whether they throw too many keywords on the page, or ... 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.
In other words, Google is planning to crack down on spammers who are playing games with search algorithms. People like you, who are using SEO properly, should be fine.
Using SEO properly means:
- Considering quality, not quantity, of keywords: Figure out the right keywords, and use them naturally in the page content. Don’t throw in a bunch of extra tags to try to snag the search engine.
- Providing useful links: Whether they go elsewhere in your site or to an external resource, links can enhance your blog post or your FAQ page, but only if the user will benefit from the additional information. Shady autolinking practices are on Google’s radar.
- Remembering why people search: People use search engines to find the information that will answer their question or solve their problem. You want to be the source that will do that for them — by providing quality content and making it findable, not by tricking users into wasting their time.
As Matt said:
We tell people over and over again, “Make a compelling site. Make a site that’s useful. Make a site that’s interesting. Make a site that’s relevant to people’s interests.” … All of the changes we make, over 500 a year, are designed to try to approximate if a user lands on that page, just how happy are they going to be with what they get? So if you keep that in mind, then you should be in good shape no matter what.”
We couldn’t say it better ourselves — make your site compelling, useful, and interesting, and your visitors will be happy to find it.