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Matt Cutts Announces Penalties for Over Optimisation

Recently, Matt Cutts announced that Google is developing a penalty for the rankings of websites that have been overly optimising their content.

At a SXSW panel named “Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better! Featuring Matt Cutts (Google’s Head of Web Spam), Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan and Microsoft’s Senior Product Marketing Manager of Bing, Cutts announced, saying Google doesn’t normally pre-announce algorithmic changes.

Cutts said that he’d got a team working on levelling the playing fields so that those who have been overly optimising will start to see themselves lose rankings.

What does “Over Optimising Mean?”

It’s hard to say precisely what he means by over optimising – he referred to link building and pages with too many keywords, so I’d guess it’s pretty all-encompassing. 

Suppose you’ve not been using social signals to the max in the last few months. In that case, you might be in extra trouble, even if you’ve been doing all you can on the social side of things. 

If you’ve been getting too many links and put too many keywords on the page, you might want to think about getting this sorted. Cutts also referred to great content – I think they must be working on the way to determine if a site deservers the links it’s getting.

. I’d guess this means your site must have a blog/news section and be putting out authoritative content – let’s be honest, most basic standard pages don’t generate the volume of the link that over-serving has been giving them.

Why did Matt Cutts warn us about the over optimisation penalty?

It’s also interesting that Cutts has put a timescale on this – interesting because this would suggest we have some time to do something about it.

 He said it would be ready in the next couple of months, maybe as soon as in a few weeks.  I say interesting because this is a bit like Google reaching out to the SEO sector, letting them know to start changing their ways and knowing that this following change might hurt us quite a lot!

I’m concerned about a group of websites I work on; the company has multiple sites on different domains with a blog on the central part.  It occurs to me that the model is becoming unmanageable in how Google wants us to work with them.

Relevance and Over Optimisation Penalty

One of the significant pointers is the mention of relevancy in determining over optimisation. I’m guessing this primarily applies to links in two ways: 

The first is the relevance of the link to the page that it’s on.  People are getting links from various sources where the anchor text isn’t relevant to the rest of the page but is relevant to the destination content.

It’s pretty evident that if they get better at working out the relevance of the page content to the anchor text of the link, they can work out if the connection is worth passing link juice through or not.

 So if you’ve got loads of links from comments on blog posts that aren’t relevant to the blog post itself, it’s likely it’s not going to pass any strength through.

The other thing to consider about relevancy is its effect on article marketing. Article marketing makes a page of content that is very relevant to the link’s anchor text, which means the connection is potent. 

It makes sense to me that part of their thoughts on relevancy will be in how relevant the page of content is to the rest of the content on the domain, or at the very least in the virtual silo in which it exists.

I imagine that Google is still quite a way away from working this out because most sites have a load of content on them that might seem relatively tenuously connected to other pieces of content on the site but are central to the site owner’s business.

video content is an excellent way to incorporate SEO and content marketing into a new product

How to prevent an over optimisation penalty

OK, so I’m not going to pretend to know how to overcome the over optimisation penalty Google is about to dish out; it’s probably fair to say I’ve done some over optimisation in my time. 

Still, if I were going to give some suggestions on how to overcome over optimisation penalty, they would be:

  • Have a blog on the site and create lots of unique, newsworthy content
  • Double your efforts on social media, linking back to the site with lots of (non-spammy) posts – concentrate on Google+, Google will thank you for it in the long run.
  • Reach out to as many relevant websites to get links now!
  • Change your anchor text strategy to be a partial match and brand.
  • Re-write onsite content that appears spammy, keyword-stuffed (or redirect it if it’s the same as something else on the site)

Use this lead time to do as much as you possibly can; it’s not often that Google give us a heads up on what they are about to do – act now or suffer later!

Matt Cutts Announces Penalties for Over Optimisation

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