According to Search Engine Land, Google is working on a new algorithm that will penalize sites that attempt to “over-optimize” or “over-SEO” their on-site content.
The announcement was delivered by Matt Cutts, the head of the webspam team at Google, at a South by Southwest panel named “Dear Google and Bing: Help Me Rank Better.” According to an audio transcript from the panel, the new over-optimization penalty has been in development for at least a few months. If you are a website owner or blogger, this could be very important.
Why the Penalty?
According to Cutts, the reasoning behind the new penalty is that Google wants to level the playing field between sites that have great content but poor SEO and sites that have excellent SEO but comparatively worse content. This is great news for you if you’re a naturally talented writer (or if you employ talented writers) and expert in your niche, but haven’t had the time or resources to optimize your site for search engine rankings.
What is “Over-Optimization?”
The announcement from Cutts is obviously still very young, and hasn’t been backed with a Google blog post or anything more official, but we can still learn a little from the announcement itself. “Exchanging way too many links,” adding “too many keywords on a page” and “going well beyond what you normally expect” were three of the things Cutts mentioned in his definition of “over-optimization.” Cutts said that “several engineers” are currently working on ways to outsmart those who “abuse” Google’s SEO algorithms in these ways.
The news is particularly interesting given that Matt Cutts himself posted a YouTube video back in 2009 in which he said not to worry about over-optimization in terms of things like nofollow tags. However, Cutts also said that optimizing too heavily for a single keyword phrase, for example, was frowned upon. It seems as though Google is finally working on something concrete to back up Cutts’ statements.