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For many years website owners have been optimising, reoptimising and further optimising their websites; tweaking and testing, changing this and that in order to get great Google Listings.

Keyword density, keyphrases in URLs, optimisation of alt tags, META this and that, links and more; all a part of the webmaster’s arsenal of optimisation tools.

And done properly, optimisation works well. The problem arises when a website becomes TOO optimised, either by an overenthusiastic owner who knows no better, or by a Black Hat optimiser who should, but is happy to take short term gains and not too worried about the long term future of the website.

But it would appear that all that is about to change.

In March, Google’s Matt Cutts announced that Google is working on a ranking penalty for websites that are ‘overly SEO’ed’. This new penalty should be rolled out in the coming months, and according to Matt is meant to “level the playing field”.

What he seems to mean by this is that Google wants to give sites that have great content, but maybe not great SEO, as much of a chance in the rankings as those that have great SEO but not so great content.

So what are Google going to be looking at?

Well, obviously they’re not going to tell us everything, but Matt has mentioned a couple of things:

“We also start to look at the people who sort of abuse it, whether they throw too many keywords on the page, or whether they exchange way too many links, or w hatever they are doing to sort of go beyond what a normal person would expect in a particular area.”

  • Keyword stuffing – the trick of adding your keyphrase into your page as many times as possible. This has been pretty useless for a while, as Google hasn’t really looked at keyword density for some time. If you think that repeating your keyphrase 20 times in a page makes it more relevant in a search, you’re reading the wrong books!
  • Black hat linking. Buying or gaining hundreds of links with the same anchor text from completely unrelated sites. Again, this has been a no-no for a while, so it will be interesting to see how they’re going to expand on it.

What do we think?

If you’re constantly obsessing about your SEO, adding in the latest ‘trick’ you’ve read about in a blog written 3 years ago, and stuffing your site with doorway pages, keyword stuffing and other SEO tricks from the darker side, then yes, you probably do need to worry.

If you’ve done your homework and kept on top of white hat optimisation techniques, or your website has been optimised by a Search Engine Optimisation company, then you’ve probably got nothing to worry about. If on top of that you’re publishing regular fresh content, then you definitely have nothing to worry about.

Worried? Why not get in touch with us and let us check out your website? We can tell you whether it’s over optimised or not, and help you to sort it out with one of our SEO packages if necessary.

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Chris is a Search Marketing Executive and has an expert knowledge in SEO. As a creative writer, his role is to create content for our clients' websites.


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