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Search Engine Optimization: Too Much of a Good Thing Really Can Hurt You

We’ve always thought that going too far with search engine optimization was a bad idea – especially since it can hurt your conversion rates and the profitability of your business website – but now it turns out that it might not even work. In fact, Matt Cutts (Google’s Spam Chief) recently let it slip in an interview that the next change to Google’s algorithm may actually be designed to punish sites that have too much in the way of optimization.

Is this good news or bad news? And what does it mean for the future of your business website?

Here’s what you need to know about over-optimization and Google’s next update:

There’s no reason to expect a dramatic change. Although a lot of people are envisioning some sort of massive shift in Google’s algorithm, history suggests otherwise. Even the much-discussed “Panda” change that came along recently only effected an estimated 10% or so of all web searches. That means that your site isn’t likely to move much – for better or worse – in Google’s rankings right away.

Change will be coming, however, which brings us to the next point…

This is good news for most businesses (and for searchers). Google isn’t going through the effort of changing its industry-leading algorithm for no reason, or because it simply wants to give business owners and web designers another reason to grind their teeth. No, like all of their major shifts, this one is being undertaken to stay on the cutting edge of search, and specifically to please searchers.

Think about it this way:

How many searchers really want to find over-optimized sites when they’re looking for answers or products? The answer lies between “very few” and “absolutely no one.” That’s because they’re looking for information and resources, not endlessly used keywords, enormous numbers of backlinks, and robotic landing page text.

Since most business websites don’t feature any of these, a change in Google’s algorithm can actually be great news. Instead of searchers having to shift through your over-optimized competitors, they’ll now have an easier time finding your business online.

Optimizing your site the right way is still a good idea. Since Google’s new update has to do with over-optimized sites, not just the ones that are easy to find online, it’s important to know how far is too far. There’s no way to be sure, but we’d be willing to bet a lot of money that the answer lies in those features we pointed out a couple paragraphs ago: too many keywords on a single page, obvious link utilization, nonsensical page titles, etc.

Undertaking good search engine optimization (in the form of relevant content, backlinks, and some focused tweaking of things like image text and page titles) is still going to be an important part of Internet marketing for the foreseeable future. And it should be. There’s nothing wrong with making it easy for customers to find you – you just don’t want to go so far that it’s counterproductive.

Want help making your business website more profitable? Schedule a free appointment with a member of our team today, and we’ll show you how search engine optimization and other tools can work together to grow your company over the Internet.

By David A. West  Join me on Google+

5th June, 2012 0