Until now, optimizing your website as much as possible was the buzzword of the day. However, Matt Cutts, working as part of the search quality group at Google has announced in March 2012, at South by Southwest that Google is planning to penalize sites that are “over-optimized”. This is no surprise, considering that Google has always looked towards improving its search algorithm. This is just another step to ensure that only quality sites appear on the Google search results.
Penalties for Over-Optimization – After the Panda update, many websites merely witnessed a drop in their rankings. However, Google has other plans for websites caught over-optimizing. Instead of dropping their rankings, Google will completely de-index those sites that are found guilty of over-optimization. The bots will basically stop crawling these sites, rendering them invisible to the search engine.
What Constitutes Over-Optimization: There are various ways in which you might be over-optimizing your website. Look at the following options and see if you are guilty of them, and start rectifying them as soon as possible to avoid de-indexing of your website.
- Keyword Optimization: You are likely to be penalized if your website is stuffed with keywords. You should aim for around 2% to 5% keyword density to ensure best results. Secondly, do not stuff the keyword in every place, such as your title, body tag, heading and so on. Another suspicious tactic is aiming to optimizing your domain name as the keyword.
- Excessive Backlinks to the Same URL: This used to be a popular trick to increase ranking. However, Google is no longer blind to this technique. Linking to identical URLs using the exact keyword is akin to penalization in the long run.
- Content: Your content should be unique and not duplicated from other websites. Many site owners simply copy and paste Wikipedia content to their websites. However, Google can identify copied text and it will de-index you if your content is not original. Invest in organic and good content that allows keyword richness, while engaging the interest of your readers and providing good information.
I Have Been Penalized. Now What? If you find yourself with a penalty slapped upon you, try to identify the mistake and rectify it as soon as possible. Use only white hat techniques to play safe. If you feel you have been penalized unfairly, or if you have rectified all your mistakes, simply submit a reconsideration request to Google to reappear on their search results.
The Future of SEO: SEO is not limited to black hat techniques. White and good SEO techniques will still be in demand, as optimization within reasonable limits is not penalized. In fact, sites that use proper SEO techniques might even find themselves ahead on the search engine rankings once Google de-indexes the bad sites!