Over Optimisation Penalty: What You Need to Know

When Google’s leading spam man Matt Cutts announced at SXSW that Google would be cracking down on overly optimised sites, my initial reaction was “can they really do that?”

On the surface this seems like an unfair move which favours laziness or a total lack of SEO effort over hard work. As with all big changes, people will either adapt and learn to work around them, or bolt and never look back. The thought of your SEO efforts leading to your site being penalised might make you want to not bother; it’s like being told eating too healthily is bad for you. However, there is still a strong case for optimising your site to the best of your ability.

The changes are not meant to punish those who optimise their site because they want to rank higher and provide relevant information to users – these changes simply want to weed out the spam sites. You know the sites I’m talking about; all keywords and no real content. Google wants to “level the playing field”, and this can only be a good thing.

On a panel at SXSW Cutts said:

“All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimisation or overly SEO – versus those making great content and great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect.”

If we look at these changes in relation to the Semantic Search plans, then you’ll have a new approach to SEO. Don’t think about the search bots crawling your site, these are simply a means to an ends. Think about the user searching for your site and their behaviour, as this is exactly what Google focusses on.