Google’s over-optimization penalty AKA Google messing with the minds of SEOs

Can’t you just picture it, the Google spam team is sitting around in one of their meetings  and the topic comes up about how they could really mess with SEOs minds.  Then someone pipes up “I’ve got it, let’s make up a penalty that makes being optimized a bad thing!”  (Oh to be a fly on that wall!)

SEOs have a love/hate relationship with Google.  On the one hand, we love the traffic, exposure and of course who can forget the Adsense checks and cheap Adwords traffic.  On the other hand, there are many pretty vocal SEOs who take every chance they get to slam, criticize and crucify anything and everything Google does, and I am sure everyone knows who those SEOs are.  In fact, many SEOs consider it a sport :)

Then Google announces one thing that makes all good SEOs shudder…

Yes, you know, the so called “over-optimization penalty”?  Talk about brilliant (from Google’s point of view anyways).  Because now, Google is really toying with all the SEOs who have strived for perfection on every single website they have ever worked on, whether for themselves or for clients.  And now that perfectionism is looking more like debilitating OCD that hurts more than it helps.

And really, perfectionist SEO goes against what Google wants to see in its index, as much as we hate to admit it.  Google wants to make SEOs job one where we have to give them what they really want to see in the index, great quality content.  If Google is having problems fighting the spam war because crappy sites can still be perfectly optimized to rank, why not make over-optimization a penalty?

Who hasn’t tried to go with the easy money and created (or more likely, pressed a button to spin one) a spam site because it is easier to do than hiring people to write original well-written articles for a site.  It is a hell of a lot easier to optimize a slew of bad spam sites than it is to think up each article title, find writers, ensure the content is original and then actually shelling out money to pay for that content. True, you will burn a lot more sites this way as they get picked off in the results, making the need for an unending cycle of spam sites, but let’s face it, most SEOs are lazy and want to rake in the cash with the least amount of work possible.  And unfortunately/fortunately, depending on which side of the quality content fence you are on, spammy content sites with perfect SEO still can win the ranking war – at least temporarily – versus someone’s hobby site with spectacular content but that has pathetic or non-existent SEO skills.

So all Google has to do is throw the thing that makes SEOs cringe, an over-optimization penalty, and suddenly you have a lot of SEOs trying to figure out how to un-optimize sites (and by just how much), both spammy and quality, while still ensuring they rank.  Unfortunately, we know that the penalty is a reality, for those hoping it was just a threat.

Or they could just want all those SEOs to start spending more money on AdWords :)  Regardless—

Well played Google, well played.

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