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Your Website Might Be Over Optimized If …

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There has been a great deal of speculation about the shape and form search engine rankings will take after Google’s chief spam cop Matt Cutts first announced that the search engine is working on devising a new penalty for sites that are “over optimized” or “overly SEOed.”

While speaking during a presentation at SXSW in mid-March, Cutts said that for the past few months Google has been working on a new penalty targeting websites that are overly optimized, and that the new over-optimization penalty would be introduced into search results in the upcoming month or next few weeks.

Cutts indicated that the new over-optimization penalty was being designed to level the playing field between sites that have great content, but can’t seem to rank above sites that have content that isn't as great, but do a better job with search engine optimization. Yet here we are in the middle of April none the wiser as to what an over-optimization penalty actually entails.

Some have speculated that the new over-optimization penalty will likely be triggered by “unnatural” linking structures since Google is starting to send out more “bad link” notification messages via Webmaster Tools. Others contend that with Panda and Farmer filters waxing on and waning off, Google is growing its working knowledge of how visitors interact with bad content. It is indeed for this reason that much of the recently published SEO advice focuses on reducing bounce rates and increasing time spent essential web pages.

And Now for Something Completely Different

jeff-foxworthyToday, we can forget all that. Because now is the time to ponder the search engine over-optimization debate in a style worthy of the comedic wit of Jeff Foxworthy.

Please place your tongue in your cheek as we present to you some thoughts and suppositions about how you too might be able to recognize that a website has been over optimized.

Your website might be over optimized if … Your content is scraped from some other websites’ “aggregated” content.

Your website might be over optimized if … Your inbound links originate mostly from other sites you own.

Your website might be over optimized if … Your home page has more AdWords content than visible words on a page.

Your website might be over optimized if … Your site’s pagination structure breaks for each new paragraph.

Your website might be over optimized if … Your website has the same product page in every color and every size for every city in every state.

Your website might be over optimized if … Your website offers free resources, but only to visitors that provide their charge card details.

Your website might be over optimized if … You never bought links, you only rented them.

Your website might be over optimized if … The declared language of your website is “Spamglish.”

Your website might be over optimized if … Your web content loads way too quickly.

Your website might be over optimized if … You keyword-rich-and-hyphenated URLs all use the same phrasing on subdomains numbered www1 through www99.

Your website might be over optimized if … Your only inbound links come from Wikipedia.

Your website might be over optimized if … All the inbound links pointing to your site use the same anchor text.

Your website might be over optimized if … All your friends only over-share your web content.

Your website might be over optimized if … All your inbound links come from forums.

Your website might be over optimized if … All your inbound links come from Blogger comments.

Your website might be over optimized if … You just happen to really, really like white text on a white background.

Your website might be over optimized if … You have someone else’s rel=author details under another author’s byline.

Your website might be over optimized if … Your visitors see something way different than GoogleBot “sees.”

Your website might be over optimized if … Your content is so good you need to charge visitors a fee for reading it.

Your website might be over optimized if … Your content is so good that its rel=canonical tags can be found in other websites.

Your website might be over optimized if … Only bad sites link to your content.

Your website might be over optimized if … Your website used to rank for [your website might be over optimized if], but now it only ranks for [search engine watch] + phrases.

Parting Thoughts

When I first read about Google’s warnings for its forthcoming over-optimization penalty I checked the calendar to make certain it wasn’t April 1. Reassured that the idea of an over-optimization penalty was not some sort of bad April Fools' gag, it became obvious that at least to Google “over optimization” is indeed the new search engine spam.

What can you do to avoid triggering one of Google’s algorithmic penalties or results-dampening filters? Act smarter than a fifth grader, and create great content that your visitors will randomly comment upon and share with various friends.


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