Not so fast SEO, Google wants to punish “overly optimized” sites

Head of Google’s Web Spam team Matt Cutts spoke on a panel at SXSW about search engine optimization and revealed a new strategy from Google that could send fear into the heart of any website manager. Google’s planning to punish any website that is “overly optimized,” according to Cutts. An audio clip of the discussion was posted by Search Engine Land on Saturday.

Search engine optimization is often a moving target. Search engines change their standards and practices for how they crawl sites, and most website content managers struggle to find the perfect balance of keywords and internal linking to help their sites get picked up by Google, Yahoo, and others. Now, Google’s throwing a wrench into the machine with plans to penalize websites that go too far to optimize their content.

Cutts had this to say about how Google handles well-optimized websites versus those developed without much SEO:

Normally we don’t pre-announce changes, but there is something we’ve been working in the last few months and hopefully in the coming weeks we hope to release it. The idea is basically to try to level the playing ground a little bit. So all those people who have 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 are trying to level the playing field a bit. We try to make the GoogleBot smarter, try to make our relevance more adaptive, so that if people don’t so SEO we handle that. And we are also looking at the people who abuse it, who put too many keywords on a page, exchange way too many links, or whatever else they are doing to go beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.

Cutts makes no mention of what sort of punishment would befall an overly optimized site, though in Google’s world, not showing up in the first three pages of search results could be punishment enough.

This may coincide with Google’s plans to revamp its search engine, which includes more direct answers and facts on its results pages, the Wall Street Journal reported last week. The company plans to introduce “semantic search,” which will better understand the meaning of words to provide more relevant search results.

SEO image via Shutterstock

This story originally appeared on seonix.org.