What Google’s Over-Optimisation Penalty Means For Your Website

So Search Engine Land broke the news that Matt Cutts announced at SXSW that:

“The idea is basically to try and level the playing field a little bit. All those people who have sort of been doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly doing their SEO compared to the people who are just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site… We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance more adaptive and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or whatever they are doing to go well beyond what you normally expect in a particular area. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.”

Quite a few people have been talking about this online but the question is ‘what does this mean for your website’?

Once this change comes into effect great content with a low volume of links will outrank low quality content with a high volume of low value links. In other words linkbuilding for linkbuildings sake is now officially redundant.

This is great news for people who invest a great deal of time and budget into customer centric digital marketing, through their website and online interactions. That is because anyone who has placed their customer at the centre of their digital marketing activity will have gained a range of relevant natural links and will have created high quality relevant content on their website.

This is also great news for new players in the market. If you are launching a new website with no domain history or authority or backlink profile you are not doomed to page 6+ of the search results for the next 6-18 months! As long as you mould your web presence around a content strategy which identifies your target audiences and places them at the centre of all your online content you stand a good chance of ranking well in the search results.

What to do?

This is no time for a knee jerk reaction, DO NOT FIRE YOUR SEO AGENCY or try to get rid of all your links! However, it is important that you take the time to assess your website from a potential customer’s perspective.

Analyse

The best way to do this is to have a group meeting with a cross section of employees, I would suggest the CEO/MD, Marketing Manager, Sales Manager, a low level customer interacting Supervisor/Manager and a direct customer facing executive. Allowing representatives from different sections of the business, with different interactions with customers, to contribute should give a broad insight into the typical customer journey. Discuss key questions such as:

  • Who are our customers?
  • When potential customers reach our website what are they looking for?
  • Are your pages in the search results relevant (your Page Title and meta description)?
  • Does our website give them what they are looking for?
  • How else can we give them what they are looking for?
  • Does the content on our website read well?
  • Are there too many keywords?
  • Are sentences and paragraphs well structured? Do they make sense?
  • Based on the information available would you buy from this site/company? – Honestly!

Optimise

Where necessary adapt your content

  • Re-write key pages
  • Add new pages
  • Add new types of content, video, infographics etc
  • Block or re-direct low quality content, as advised by Google following the Panda Update in March 2011

Strategise

Develop a content strategy to ensure that all your online marketing activity is aligned and adds value to your customer at each interaction they have with your brand.

This algorithm change is rumoured to come into effect anytime between the next 14 to 30 days so this should definitely be prioritised. This diligent pro-activity will be 100% worthwhile in enabling you to ride the proverbial storm and also in improving your website for your potential customers which should increase your conversion rate and grow your business!

For more online content marketing tips and digital marketing fashion news keep an eye on my contributions to the blog.

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