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Over Optimization – A Fight Not Against Spam But Against Perception


Negative SEOSo the great battle begins. Google is up in arm against saving the humankind from the unscrupulous activities of some bad guys masquerading as SEO professionals and it has got a new ammunition, more powerful than the last Panda update. It can drag you down to earth at any point of time and haplessly, you will see all your hard work is going to drain.

Google Webmaster Forum is buzzing with debates raging between website owners and bionic members, who seem to be coming from an alien world where nothing wrong ever happens. People are losing their rankings, businesses are going for a toss and some are even some are facing complete deindexing. Hell! Over optimization penalty has already been rolled out and the whole SEO world is going frenzied over it. But believe me this latest update is not about deindexing or penalizing those sites that have gone too far with their SEO activities or leveling the field, it is actually about fighting against the perception that a website needs to have links, tons of links to get better ranks in Google’s SERP.

What People Think about Over Optimization?

To be honest, people are crazy these days and you cannot blame them since they are seeing their websites toned by Google, their source of revenues is drying up and there are fewer alternatives (SEOBook’s latest post might be an interesting read here).

Below are some misconceptions about the over optimization penalty that are still doing the round:

1. Links Have Lost Their Importance

Definitely, this is not the case. However, there is no denying of the fact that Google is giving less and less importance on the Links and switching to some other signals like users stay, average time on the website, social signals and a lot more. All signals are now fine-tuned to find out the best website for a given query. Links are and will always be an important factor but that does not mean, you will channelize all your effort to get as many links as possible, rather you should come up with amazing design, write compelling content, do some off line promotion and do an A/B testing in Google Adwords.

2. Keywords have Lost Their Importance

I have heard some SEO guys saying if you are targeting keywords, you are dead. Yeah, this is quite true to some extent. Keywords stuffing can land you on troubled water and you might see a massive fall in ranking. Do not use keywords insanely, rather focus on the brand image of your website and use them whenever they feel and fit good. No need to force them, place them whenever they feel good and you are happy.

3. Negative SEO

This is the new catchword for all SEO guys who have lost the ranks of their website in one way or the other, or whose website has seen a drastic fall from favor from Google. All they have to blame the negative SEO, a new myth designed to pass the ball to competitors. They are shouting like this – I am not building these links. You know it is my competitors who have built to get my website scrapped by Google. Believe me; I am not lying. Negative SEO is a myth. Stop whining like a little brat who has caught doing something wrong. Since there is tough time ahead, I do not think your competitors will have enough time in hands to spend their resources just to get your website banned by Google.

What Google Thinks About Over Optimization?

This is the most interesting part of the whole story. I do not think Google has launched a holy war against sites that are spamming heavily or trying to give not-so-smart people their share of web presence (which is long overdue). Nope, rather Google is trying very hard to change the perception of people about SEO. It tries to make people aware that search engine optimization is not just about getting links, tons of them by doing something that hurts users’ experience and that does not add value to the website as a whole. And I must say, Google has done a considerably great job. They have made bad guys terrified and good guys are coming back to the limelight and thanks heaven, those days of $200 is coming to an end. However, there are some hiccups along the way. SEER Interactive found them out of the whole game, but they have bounced back and this time, quite strongly. Since Google is still fine-tuning the algo, it is quite expected that there will be some bumps along the way. This over optimization thing may or may not bore well for your website or your career, but you can be sure of one thing – days of cheap SEO are coming to end and hopefully, we will see its end soon enough.


Michael Evans is an organic web strategist, content writer and passion blogger. Currently he is associated with Site2You and occassionally contributes to 3Leaps & WebsiteDesign.

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    • Mr Invicto

      Over optimization also affects the readability of articles.

    • ved prakash joshi

      Main points of Over Optimization are –
      High keyword density and
      Excessive Backlinks with Same Anchor text in small interval 

    • Aakash Goyal

      @ Michael Evans
      bro negative seo is not all about bad links.yes i have already read that at seomoz but there are many other ways too for eg :spammy traffic

      in order to deal with spammy traffic add this in. htaccess

      RewriteEngine On
      RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^
      RewriteRule (.*)$1 [R=301,L]
      RewriteEngine on
      RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !
      RewriteRule .* [R=301,L]

      I am talking about similar stuff not about bad links.

      • michael evans

        @Aakash GoyalThey are not going to harm you anyway. And I am a bit nerd when it comes to htacess. Do you want to send all spammy traffic to Google ??

    • Namanyay Goel

      Great post. Seen many idiots who say “links are worthless now” or talk about negative seo as if something like that actually exists. Hope this post opens those minds. PS. The title is a bit misleading… 

    • Michael Evans


      Yes Google has started devaluing the importance of links and adding more social media signals . lets see what remains at the end

    • Michael Evans

      Praveenyou are 100% correct without great content a website is bound to fall in the long run

    • Aakash Goyal

      disagree with 3rd point.
      may be matt cutts say that there is nothing your competitor can do to harm your rankings in serps but there are many hidden ways and loopholes which still exist.

    • Amrik @ Monetize Blogging

      Over the lastfew months Matt Cutts and his team have been out to massacre those who earn aliving from Google traffic. The fact is that most of the people who do SEO ontheir sites take pride in their product (their website). The end user does notgive a toss how it got ranked on page 1…they just want information.
      Often(especially since the first panda updates) people will go to great effort andpolish their sites…the result?
      The searcher ishappy, the webmaster is happy…therefore Google should be happy.
      Why don’t thesepricks come up with an algorithm that detects crap content? Who gives a **uckabout links? No one should…all that matters is that the searcher leaves happyand educated.
      What we areseeing now is a degrading of the user experience, ugly, weak sites from the1990’s being ‘resurrected’ and us who strive to make a living from providinggood content being shoved out of the frame.
      This is moreabout ‘big brother’ shafting Free Enterprise and trying to shove us back intoCorporate Slavery.  It’s also about Google making more money from their Adwords program.

      • Michael Evans

        Amrik @ Monetize Bloggingyour points are justified . Google is after brand and therefore, we are helpless

      • Namanyay Goel

        How is it even POSSIBLE to make an algorithm that differentiates between crap content and good content? Google is a MACHINE, not a manual READER who can identify good content vs bad. Some hints might be taken, like proper grammar and spelling (which you obviously lack) but that’s it. 

        And the concept of links was, that if a site is good and gives quality content, links will come in automatically. Ruined by idiots, who made web directories, link circles, etc. 

        You don’t actually know anything about technology, or SEO, so don’t act like an expert. 

    • Avi Jit (@skyhitblog)

      I always concentrate more on the content as it is the highest priority of both search engines and readers. Quality content always ranks higher and so its better not to got for cheap seo services and keyword stuffing. Related: Why I did Keyword Stuffing?

    • Puneet

      I think Google doesn’t want to let people do SEO. Even if you do proper SEO you will get to know later that it is over optimization. I don’t know but its Google’ Monopoly 

    • Aasma

      Great article, Google has actually declined the values of links from low quality or spammy sites. Earlier by getting tons of links through low value directories make your site rank higher. But those days are gone now you’ve to do proper research before deciding your link building techniques.

    • Jasmine

      Great article, Michael. I actually welcome the Penguin as well as the Panda. This is because they are actually cleaning out the Internet of spammy websites and rubbish.
      If you want to be successful, you have to put in a lot of hard work, and produce good quality content! Don’t take short cuts.

    • Praveen

      Actually, everything has lost their important except CONTENT!
      If you want a good SERP, you need high quality attractive content.

      • Jasmine

        Hmm… I wonder how Google ranks content? How does it determine how good a piece of content is?

        • Namanyay Goel

          Great post. Seen many idiots who say “links are worthless now” or talk about negative seo as if something like that actually exists. Hope this post opens those minds.

          PS. The title is a bit misleading… 

        • Namanyay Goel

          Sorry, replied to you accidently.

          What I wanted to say is, that there is no way google can judge content. Google is a robot, it cannot judge the intelligence and quality of a blog post. As said in the post, it values things like time the user stays, number of repeating visitors, bounce rate, etc.

      • Namanyay Goel

        Content is important, but as well is – 

        Design. So that users stay on the site. Includes readability, layout.
        Social media buttons. So that content is shared. 
        Links. Without any links, no site can go far. I guarantee you.  

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