Matt Cutts, a Google associate working in the Search Quality division, recently announced that Google would soon begin to penalize over-optimised sites. Over optimised sites are those that “keyword stuff” or rely heavily on SEO rather than quality content.
This stunning announcement came during a question and answer session that Mr. Cullen participated in involving the Editor and Chief Search Engine Land and Microsoft’s Senior Product Marketing Manager of Bing at SXSW. The panel was Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better!
Over optimisation has been a problem that search engines like Google have been trying to address for years. Over SEOed sites with poor, near unintelligible content routinely rank higher than quality sites with excellent content. Over the past few months, Google has been working on a way to identify and penalize over-optimised sites. They plan to introduce these changes to their algorithm in the next few weeks.
Cutts describes this new change as an attempt to “level the playing field” and give sites with great content a chance to rise to the top of the search engine rankings over sites that are less informative but excel in SEO.
This announcement of a change to the algorithm prior to the change being implemented is a break from Google’s standard operating procedure. Typically, any changes to the algorithm are kept tightly under wraps, and the general public only learns of the changes after the fact. The reasons for this change in policy are unknown.
Google engineers are working on improving Googlebot. They hope to make it smarter and more relevant. With the planned changes to the Google algorithm, Google hopes to be able to identify those sites that are engaging in black hat practices such as keyword stuffing and link buying. The boot will be on the lookout for sites that have an abnormal amount of links that go beyond what a site of its type would normally generate.
How effective this change will be is still up in the air, but one thing is for sure, SEO specialists will have to adapt and change their techniques. Best practices will need to be revised. This is nothing SEO specialists have not dealt with before, but this will be a dramatic change. Like other past Google updates, it will take a while to see how things shake out.