There’s been a lot of speculation in the past few weeks about suggestions of a new change to the Google algorithm which will “level the playing ground” when it comes to “over-optimised” websites. We don’t know yet whether the Google algorithm has received this new feature, or whether it’s being rolled out slowly. Some argue that it is already having an effect, with various spammy blog networks losing their search engine positions.
What does it all mean though? A few clients have asked me recently whether this new over-optimisation penalty is something they should be concerned about and whether they would need to change their search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy or their content marketing strategy in any way so they don’t fall foul of it.
The phrase has been used so much lately that some bloggers have said they fear all SEO efforts are now being tarnished – as if any kind of optimisation is a bad thing.
The answer is simple, really. Matt Cutts, the face of Google’s fight against spam, said a few years ago what over-optimisation is. If you have spent a lot of time perfecting your website, to ensure it does everything possibly to maintain good rankings, while still building a website that people actually enjoy looking at and reading, you are not over-optimising, you are optimising.
If you are stuffing your pages full of keywords unnaturally and doing things to your site structure that mean no human would really want to spend time there; if you are so focused on building a site for page rank that you don’t really produce a website for visitors, chances are, Matt’s over-optimisation filters will be gunning for you.
Here’s a video of Matt a few years ago explaining further.