Google’s Over SEO Penalty: What Good Sites Have & Don’t Have
March 22, 2012
At the South By Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas during an open panel entitled “Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better!” Google’s engineer Matt Cutts hinted at a new Over SEO penalty (at the 16:09 mark) that (if not already) will be implemented into their algorithm VERY soon. He called it “leveling the playing field“. The upcoming over-optimization penalty would theoretically change the playing field so that sites with great content and higher user value rank above sites with excessive SEO.
We all know that there are sites ranking for terms that shouldn’t be ranking at all, and Google knows this as well. As always, Google wants to make sure all the top ranking site on their search engine are not only legit, but deserves to be there. He mentioned various optimization factors good sites possess, as well as what “cheating” sites tend to do. They are trying to get rid of sites that put more effort into their SEO than into making their sites user friendly.
Here is a list of what over optimized websites have:
- Over optimized title tags
- Strictly keyword-rich internal links
- Keywords listed on website
- Ugly site design
- Weak content
- Low value proposition
- Obvious that they are only ranking because of SEO
- Too many keywords within a given area
- Changed “Home” links’ anchor text to top keyword
- Domain name is keyword
There could be more factors or the same ‘ole ones. Google will either ratchet up the amount of penalty or dampening that those spam signals merit algorithmically or they will have new over-optimization signals implemented as well.
Here is a list of what the top ranking sites will possess:
- Great design
- Answers to all types of queriers’ questions
- Contextual/LSI content to support target keywords
- Links from other sites ranking in top 100 of niche keyword terms
- Encourages users to visit multiple pages
- Low bounce rates
- High average time on site
As you can see, website quality is better than too much SEO.
If you are a client, hopefully you take these considerations into account. Because, even if we continue to do the best SEO in the world, Google wont give you a chance if your websites isn’t meeting their quality guidelines. If you want to know more about Google’s Website Guidelines, you can check them out here.