Purchasing backlinks. Keyword stuffing above the fold. Cloaking. Hidden text. All are considered black hat SEO. But what about going pedal to the metal with legitimate techniques? “Over optimization” is the euphemism used by Google’s own Webspam engineer, Matt Cutts, referring to ambitious site owners wanting to get their page to the top of search results. After all, being at or near the top means higher conversion rates and for business owners, that translates directly into sales. But the Internet is ever evolving and everyone with a presence on the world wide web will have to adapt.
Over Optimization in a Nutshell
Overly optimizing or over optimization is precisely what it sounds like. It’s the bridesmaid who went so far as to sew her own dress, the other bridesmaids’ dresses, the flower girl’s dress, the best man’s tux, the tuxedos of the ushers and the bride’s gown. While it may be a good thing, it simply is too much. Another way to think of it is the best selling athletic shoe in the United States running television commercials every commercial break during every prime time show on every day of the week during Sweep’s Week. Again, simply too much.
Over optimization is the practice of conducting more search engine optimization when the job has already been sufficiently done. Overly dense keywording. Buying links for the sake of it. Guest posting and commenting each twice an hour each workday.
A fact of life on the Internet is there is a plethora of competition for every imaginable product or service. As a result, some site owners embrace over optimization as a way past the competition, while staying in the good graces of the search engines. Call it pseudo gray hat. But over optimization is seen by search engines as an artificial leg-up, manipulating search results to reward sites with over optimization top placement without having to work on the most important element of SEO–original, quality content.
Search engines don’t just want to display sites with the highest level of SEO, they don’t want to return search results based solely on keywords and other SEO elements. They want to display search results based on a site’s relevancy–in other words, sites with the best content on a particular subject.
The largest, most used search engine is now actively seeking to identify site employing over optimization techniques. Google is on the precipice of releasing a new algorithm which detects over optimization. The purpose is to make the playing field more level, allowing sites with great content to get a fair shot at being higher ranked than competitors with mediocre content using over optimization.
Alternatives to Over Optimization
There’s far more to SEO than repeating the same techniques time and time again. In fact, as Google is now so amply demonstrating, site owners who do so are going to be penalized, not rewarded. However, site owners who practice responsible SEO and don’t fall prey to the temptation of over optimization will only reap the benefits of higher search result rankings.