How Will Google’s “Over-Optimization” Penalty Affect You?

Google recently announced that it is taking additional measures to give high quality websites the recognition they deserve with the launch of a new algorithm update that would target webspam and issue a penalty for “over optimization.” With the impact Google Panda has recently had on the ranking positions of many sites, many companies and SEO agencies are left wondering how or if the new change will affect them as well.
Unnatural Links

For companies that have been hit by the Penguin update, one common theme appears to be a severe lack of natural links, according to a blog post by Glenn Gabe at G-Squared Interactive. He noted five common issues these sites are all facing:

  1. Paid text links using exact match anchor text: For companies that want to rank for a certain term (such as “red widgets”) one way to accomplish this is by buying links from other websites with that exact matching anchor text. This is against Google’s guidelines, as Google would consider this a paid link that exists solely to manipulate PageRank, rather than to provide any value to visitors.
  2. Comment spam: Two things proved problematic for websites trying to unnaturally rank for specific keywords: signatures in comments that contained exact match anchor text; and people who used a spammy user name (e.g., Best India SEO Company) as exact match text.
  3. Guest posts on questionable sites: Although guest posts are a legitimate way to earn links to your site, sites dinged by the Penguin had links pointing to their website from sites filled with low-quality articles where the focus was on the anchor text rather than the content.
  4. Article marketing sites: Thin content featuring links with exact match anchor text were another common factor among affected sites.
  5. Links from dangerous sites: Do you have inbound links from sites that have been flagged for malware, numerous pop-ups, or other spammy issues? This was another factor that caused websites to lose their Google rankings, so links to and from web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” are a danger.

Ultimately, the Penguin update didn’t really ch…More at Google Penguin Update: 5 Types of Link Issues Harming Some Affected Websites – Search Engine Watch

In short, as with the most recent Google Penguin update, those who engage in ethical SEO techniques and web marketing practices will in effect see reward for their efforts. Those who choose to go an unethical route, or fail to provide users with relevant content when visiting their sites will likely feel the brunt of the dreaded penalty.
Where Content Truly is King
Delving deeper into understanding the impact of the penalty, it is important to recognize the purpose of Google’s algorithm changes, which the search giant has repeatedly identified as providing users with access to quality content. Therefore, the traditional technical based practices many have relied on for years to ensure indexing and more competitive search engine ranking positions are now far less likely to be effective, and may make one more susceptible to web crawler scrutiny.
Although SEO remains important, keyword stuffing and similar tactics are a dying breed, and have been replaced by methods that help search engines identify the true value of the content that has been placed on a web page. SEO providers who want to help their clients rank well must adhere to Google’s call to create content that meets or exceeds their standards of quality. The infusion of social media and developing content with the focus of what is relevant to the needs of users are among the list of important factors SEO agencies today must consider. Failing to do so may lead to your web pages being entangled in the mix of the 3% of websites anticipated to be affected by Google’s impending algorithm change.
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