If you’ve been reading my blog, or follow what’s new in the world of Google you’ve probably stumbled upon a recent revelation by Google’s Matt Cutts stating that Google is at this very moment in the process of updating their algorithm to potentially penalize over-optimized websites. The side note introduced at a Q&A session at SXSW has sent waves of panic through the SEO industry, some of which has spilled over to savvy website owners now wondering “just what the hell is going to happen to my website.”
I’ve fielded quite a few emails and phone calls from distressed webmasters wondering if I have any insight into the pending changes.
First, let me say that I have no idea what the changes are, nor do I know what the consequences are going to be to my site, your site, or any other site on the internet. No one does. In fact, if someone claims they have a “connection” in Google or are privy to insider information they’re selling you an ice cold bottle of snake oil. Trust me, it doesn’t go down smooth. Like any other Google update, the SEO and web marketing community is going to have to wait until the update takes effect before we can start adjusting our practices as a whole.
Which leads me to my second point; Stop worrying (especially if you’re a CookWheelwright customer). When Cutt’s made his announcement he was responding to a question by a seminar attendee regarding how small businesses can compete with enormous SEO budgets online. The question was really framed around the value of content and relevance. So too was Cutt’s response. I’m willing to bet that this next update will affect only ten percent of websites and applies specifically to websites that are pushing spammy SEO (SpamEO as we’ve coined it at CookWheelwright) over quality content. If you’ve been practicing black hat SEO tactics or have all but ignored the elements of user experience, content strategy, and relevance on your site while pumping up your SEO to unparalleled levels, than yes, you’re probably in for a rough few months. But webmasters and SEOs running those types of campaigns already know they’re going to struggle with every search engine update. When you choose to build your campaigns around fighting the search engines you’re going to have to anticipate the counterpunch.
If you’re a small business or webmaster who wants to keep your site optimized and ranking well, but you’re not willing to go out on a limb to do it, you’re probably going to have only minor adjustments to your overall campaign with each update. No one, change will end your online presence. The reason is, “good SEO” doesn’t fight against Google’s goals. It compliments them. Google wants the most relevant web pages listed first in their results. But crawling millions of sites every time a search query is performed is a difficult task for anyone. Good SEO practices are like placing a giant neon sign above your website. It helps your site to maintain visibility and help improve the Googlebots task of crawling and evaluating your site. The key to Good SEO is combining it with clean design, strong content, and focusing on user experience first. Do this and no update will ever kill off your online presence.
The bottom line is Google is going to update, bad SEOs are going to pout, but the marketers who focus on really taking care of their campaigns are going to win out in the long run. Don’t waste time and money trying to cheat the search engines today… build a strong online platform and your site will always weather the SEO storm.