Across Google’s recent updates to their algorithms, ‘over-optimization’ is something that has been the focus of a lot of criticism and that has been targeted by many of these changes in order to penalize the perceived perpetrators.
The point I find confusing is the term ‘over optimization’. First of all there’s the fat that over-optimisation is in itself something of a contradiction in terms – if something is optimized then it’s optimum, as in ‘just right’. That’s like saying you’re going to make something too perfect… but anyway that’s really just my being picky.
The real issue is that if something is ‘over optimized’ then that suggests that there is an ideal ‘amount’ of SEO to do, and that you can quantify it in that way. Of course this is misleading as well because it’s not really about how much SEO you do, as opposed to how well you do it. In other words, if you get 1,000,000 links then that in itself is not a bad thing – it’s only bad if you get those links from the wrong sources. A million relevant and high authority links won’t be a bad thing at all.
Should You Do SEO At All?
Nevertheless some people have taken all this to mean that they shouldn’t be doing SEO at all and that they should instead focus on making their site into something cool and hope that Google then picks their site up.
That’s in fact what Cutts sometimes says, but the problem is that Google simply isn’t good enough to pick out only the best websites without you helping them out. More to the point the sheer amount of competition means that you need to give yourself an edge – there are billions of high quality sites just like yours out there, so you need to give yourself an edge in order to compete – especially if you have a smaller site and fewer resources.
So yes you should do SEO, and despite contradictory claims even Cutts has said that you should take measures to help make your site more visible for Google.
Doing SEO Right
So what is really meant by ‘over optimization’? Well I’d summarize it by saying that ‘over optimization’ means essentially trying to compensate for quality with quantity. That’s really what Google has been penalizing and it actually applies to every area of SEO. For instance when generating content you need to make sure you have good quality articles that are well written, not spun, and that people will actually get some value from. Likewise your links are best off coming from websites of good repute and being one way links that will make your site look a lot better. Again quality is key here.
And then if you have the quality, then nothing is wrong with having quantity as well. Build as many good quality links as you can, and write as much high quality content as humanly possible – just don’t get high quantities of low quality links or content or you’ll end up sealing your own fate.
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