Google Punishing “Over-optimized” Sites?

With another Google algorithm change imminent, Internet Companies will begin to deal with another challenge with sites that are considered “over-optimized”.

What is “Over-optimization?”

 Google’s Matt Cutts took a question where a user asked if over-optimization was an issue.  Cutts’ response can be heard here …

For Google and other search engines, over-optimization is “a euphemism for a little spammy.” Things like keyword density and hidden text are what annoy people. When you bring users in, they notice bad content. A bad layout, too many ads or keyword-stuffed articles essentially do you in before Google’s increasingly sophisticated algorithms and crawlers can. Your users are the ones who will be turned off, and your competitors will simply laugh at your attempts, which brings us to the crux of fighting off the ever increasing scrutiny of search engines.

Content is King

 While one may sound like a broken record harping on this, content is king. I’ve repeated it again for a reason, because it’s the truest thing not only in SEO, but the Internet at large. While you may be worrying about tweaks and your competitors, the key is to take a good, hard look at the quality (and to some extent quantity) of your content.

Turning your gaze inward is key to discovering your site’s “inner demons.” As Sun Tzu said in The Art of War:

 It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.”

Knowing yourself in this case means knowing your content. To develop your content, you need to know your audience. While endless social media followers and neat articles can bring users in, you have to be sure a consistent message is being communicated. The message should always be subtle, but essentially point to the same thing:

“We [brand or company] want to be there for you. We want to make you better than you are now. We have proven techniques and expert advice ready.”

To compliment this, one should always have their contact information easily accessible, so the second your user/potential customer sees this, they know how to communicate their needs to you and transform good content into a budding partnership.

The Importance of Ethical SEO and Ethical Business Practices

 SEO methods fall into the same categories as hacker ethics: black, grey and white hat. Hats are a great metaphor, but they inspire unease because hats can be swapped out at any time. As your business grows, so should your commitment to ethical business practices. SEO is no exception. While a competitor may pay for links or followers, don’t stoop to their level. Remember that organic growth is what will bring clients in, and keep them there. Effective communication of goals, both within the office and to your potential clients, is where you can set yourself apart. Think of any business meeting as you would your content, and vice versa. When you speak to someone directly or in writing, you should maintain some informality and candor, a reminder that you are in fact a human being and not a spammer. Tired clichés don’t work well for anyone in any setting, so be sure that you are honest and forthcoming in all your dealings, online and in person.

Make Every Google Update Painless

 Nearly every Google update’s mere mention sets people scrambling. When they used to be named similarly to hurricanes, the response was the same as a warning from the National Weather Service … panic. Taking the above mentioned steps and applying them to your SEO and other online marketing efforts with a mindset completely focused on quality, integrity, foregoing shortcuts in favor of providing value will make each Google Update more welcomed than feared.