Can You Do Too Much SEO? What Google Means by ‘Over-Optimization’
Apr 02, 2012 by Melissa Maxwold
Every once in a while, Google announces HUGE IMPENDING CHANGES that throw the search-optimization world into a tizzy.
This recently occurred when Google’s Matt Cutts said Google was working on an “over-optimization” penalty. The penalty – which is reportedly rolling out in the coming weeks – would impact sites that are attempting to manipulate their SEO performance a little too overtly. According to Cutts:
“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.”
This has the potential to sound a little worrisome for business websites that have focused on organic performance. Does optimizing for SEO automatically mean Google’s going to punish your site?
The short answer is: No. The official algorithm change hasn’t been enacted yet, but it is highly unlikely that Google would all of a sudden be anti-SEO.
Instead, Cutts and Google are talking about particularly manipulative measures such as “too many keywords on the page” or “exchanging way too many links.” In short, Google is saying make a great site with relevant content for your visitors, and the SEO work within that template will be fine.
This is the approach we encourage at L2T Media. It’s easy to get excited about “rank-first-quick!” SEO schemes, but the short-term benefits ultimately don’t outweigh the cost. Plus, there are plenty of natural SEO fixes that can be just as successful, just as quickly, without the inherent shadiness.
We’ve avoided cramming pages full of irrelevant keywords or buying cheap, bulk links under the assumption that 1) This was a bad user experience and 2) Google was or would soon penalize the approach.
The over-optimization penalty is coming and we’ll be watching carefully at L2T to figure out how to best keep our SEO in line with best practices. Is your site doing SEO the right way? Now’s as good a time as ever to find out.