Google To Get Tough On Overly Optimized Sites
March 19, 2012

Google To Get Tough On Overly Optimized Sites

Internet search giant Google is revamping its search results and penalizing websites that are “overly optimized,” according to the company´s head of Web spam speaking at SXSW this past week.

Matt Cutts spoke to a panel at the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) festival about search engine optimization, revealing the new plan could send fear into the hearts of website managers.

An audio clip from the panel discussion is available at SearchEngineLand.

Cutts said he wants to “level the playing field” regarding those who over optimize their web pages versus “those making great content and great sites,” Barry Schwartz at SearchEngineLand cited Cutts as saying.

“We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect,” Schwartz continued, in rough transcription.

The changes should begin taking effect “in the upcoming month or next few weeks,” Schwartz said, while acknowledging that Google had no official comment on the issue.

Although news about Google´s plans to overhaul its search engine have been circulating over the past week. The Wall Street Journal reported early last week that Google was about begin its biggest overhaul to date, one that involves “semantic search,” as well as changes to search engine optimization, advertising, and page-rankings.

At the SXSW panel discussion, Cutts said that Google doesn´t normally “pre-announce changes, but there is something we´ve been working in the last few months and hopefully in the coming weeks we hope to release it.” He added that he has several engineers working on the revamp right now trying to improve GoogleBot.

Cutts didn´t offer what type of punishment could be expected if website managers continue to over optimize their sites, though, not appearing within the first three pages of search results could be punishment enough.

Cutts also mentioned on his Google+ page that using the new top-level domains (TLDs) offered by ICANN will not give website operators a ranking boost in Google.

A story on that topic recently published in Marketing Magazine cites a CEO from a domain name registrar claiming that any of the “new TLD web addresses” will “automatically be favored by Google over a .com equivalent.”

Cutts said that´s just not true. And as an engineer in the search quality department at Google, he said he felt he needed to debunk that misconception.

“Google has a lot of experience in returning relevant web pages, regardless of the top-level domain (TLD). Google will attempt to rank new TLDs appropriately, but I don´t expect a new TLD to get any kind of initial preference over .com, and I wouldn´t bet on that happening in the long-term either,” said Cutts. “If you want to register an entirely new TLD for other reasons, that´s your choice, but you shouldn´t register a TLD in the mistaken belief that you´ll get some sort of boost in search engine rankings.”