With Google’s impending algorithm update, it will be possible to over-optimize, or over-SEO websites.
Matt Cutts of the Search Quality group at Google recently spoke on this issue during a South By Southwest (SXSW) panel in Austin, Texas with Search Engine Land’s Editor-In-Chief, Danny Sullivan and Bing’s Senior Product Marketing Manager, Duane Forrester entitled “Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better!”
“What about the people optimizing really hard and doing a lot of SEO? Normally we don’t pre-announce changes but there is something we’ve been working on in the last few months and hopefully in the next couple months or so, in the coming weeks we hope to release it. The idea is basically to try to level the playing field a bit. All those people who have sort of been doing, for lack of a better word, over-optimization or overly-SEO – compared to those just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site, we want to make the playing field a bit more level. We try to make our GoogleBot smarter, we try to make our relevance more adaptive, so the people who don’t do SEO, we handle that, and we are also starting to look at the people who abuse it, they throw too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or whatever they do to go beyond what you normally expect in a particular area. This is something where we continue to pay attention, we continue to work on it, and it is an active area where we’ve got several engineers on my team working on that right now.”
What does this mean for Marketers?
More recently, Google’s algorithm has shifted to place more emphasis on topic-driven content rather than strictly keyword-based content. This means that in lieu of rewarding those who stuff their writing with relevant keywords to please the search engine spiders, Google blesses those who write with humans in mind, with content that readers want.
With the upcoming update, those who are already optimizing their content will not be penalized if the optimization doesn’t sacrifice quality. It means that Google will crack down on those whose writing is driven mainly by keywords. It rewards those who wish to help their audience, not simply boost rankings. Says Cutts: “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…We’re always trying to best approximate if a user lands on a page if they are going to be annoyed…All of the changes we make are designed to approximate, if a user lands on your page, just how happy they are going to be with what they’re going to get.”
In addition, Google’s new algorithm will place an emphasis on social sharing, or links from platforms such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Duane Forrester summed up this sentiment: “Does the rest of the world think you have a great product? If they do, they will amplify this. If you’re not engaged socially, you’re missing the boat because the conversation is happening socially about you and about your content. Those are really important signals for us. Whether you’re involved or not is your choice, but those signals still exist whether you’re in the conversation or not.”
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