Although the sharp minds at Google are notoriously secretive about both their current methods and future plans, they did recently let it slip in an interview that future updates may penalize over-optimized websites. Predictably, this small statement – which was little more than a footnote thrown in during an interview – caused a pretty big stir in the online marketing community.
Would it mean that all of the work that businesses, and their web design teams, have done to optimize sites for Google would be wasted? Does it mean that search engine optimization won’t be relevant anymore in the future? Should you worry that your site will be banned from Google?
Although there aren’t definitive answers to any questions yet, a quick look through the statement itself, and Google’s history, can lead us to some fairly certain conclusions:
The updates probably won’t affect most websites. Although we obviously can’t say with any certainty what Google will consider to be “over-optimized,” it’s a fair guess that 95% of all business sites won’t even come close to being affected. That’s because Google is really targeting the sites that searchers don’t want to find – the ones that use way too many keywords and phrases, have manipulated all kinds of inbound links, and generally seem robotic when reading them. Searchers don’t like them, so the world’s most popular search engine is trying to find new ways to filter them out more effectively.
There is an easy way to tell if your site might be over-optimized. Are you one of those unlucky few? Here is an easy rule of thumb that we think should help you figure it out: If someone came to your website, or landing pages, would they think that the pages were arranged to help people, or to convince automated search engine spiders that you should rank highly for some term or phrase? The more natural your pages are, the less you probably have to worry about.
The formula for a search engine-friendly site hasn’t really changed. Although the next Google update will target certain types of sites, it won’t change the basic method (like domain names, downlinks, and on-page content) that search engines use to crawl and rank different sites. That means that, as long as you don’t overdo it, the process of optimizing your business website for search isn’t going to be changing anytime soon. Keep on writing blog posts, researching keywords, and finding out what it is your customers want – just remember that your pages should be written for human buyers first, and automated spiders second.
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