Google Revamps Search Engine to Punish “Over-Optimizers”

by Matt Klassen on March 19, 2012

Google’s search engine is about to get a whole lot smarter…and that’s bad news for all those in the search engine optimization (SEO) business. For several years now savvy Internet users have been able to manipulate Google’s search engine results, providing the company’s tried and tested search algorithm with just the right mix of keyword usage and other such techniques to get their respective sites listed near the top on a search query.

Truth be told, it’s been a useful little backdoor tool that has allowed many businesses to increase their customer base by increasing their web hits, and has allowed folks like me to, well, make a living. The problem, however, is that the Internet has gone SEO crazy, with many pages being created and optimized solely for the purpose of advertising or spamming, instead of actually providing useful content.

But it looks like times are changing, as Google is looking to level the playing field when it comes to optimization, and if you want your business to stay relevant on Google’s search lists, well you’ll need to change too.

If you have ever wondered how web pages get sorted and prioritized on Google’s search engine, it’s actually relatively simple (in theory). To this point, Google’s search algorithm sorts the importance of websites relating to a particular query based on the words in contains, how often other sites link to it, and dozens of other criteria.

Once a person learns how the algorithm works its simply a matter of creating and organizing the web page content according to the search engine’s criteria and the site is practically guaranteed to rise of the ranks of Google’s sorting system. But as a I said, things have simply got out of hand, to the point where as a freelance web content writer I often come across optimization jobs that demand a certain word be used x number of times in x number of paragraphs, with little or nothing said about the overall content of the piece.

While Google isn’t about to abandon its current keyword search system, it’s looking to simply make the process more efficient and effective, cleaning up the search garbage on the Internet with the upcoming updates to its search protocols; changes that will actually start punishing those who over-optimize their websites and reward those who simply develop quality content on great sites.

As Google engineer Matt Cutts explains, “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.” Simply put, if you develop content strictly for SEO purposes, its not going to work as well as it used to.

Further, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that Google’s searchBot will begin to perform “semantic searches,” understanding the meaning and usage of words on a given website, instead of just their frequency of use.

In the end, the point of all this is that Google’s search engine is about to, hopefully, become a lot more useful, restricting those that abuse the system and elevating those that are legitimately providing the sought after information. What this means for businesses is that the care-free days of SEO are over, and if businesses want to stay relevant on search lists they’ll need to provide quality content, not just keyword quantity.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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