Is There Such a Thing as Too Much SEO? Google says “Yes”

According to Matt Cutts (Google’s head of the search spam team) Google will be releasing a new algorithm which will penalize overly SEO’ed sites.

Too much SEO?  What does that mean?

In an attempt to “level the playing field” between sites with good content and low rankings, versus overly-optimized sites, Google is targeting sites which have “too many links” or “too many keywords on a page”.

Check out the audio below at about the 16 minute mark, that’s when Matt Cutts announces the algorithm update.

Click here to download the audio

Of course, like many Google updates, there are no specifics as to how much is too much, or what the exact numbers are.

But if you’re a customer of mine then you probably have read my Evergreen SEO eBook or email course (if you haven’t please do so). In it I state the importance of “MAKING IT LOOK NATURAL” when you’re doing on or off page SEO to your sites.

Avoiding things like keyword stuffing, and always using a mix of your main keyword and LSI’s in your tags, building your backlinks in a constant way that looks natural and not using the same anchor text every time, etc.

You see, Google bots are destined to evolve into smarter programs and we can’t stop that from happening, but we can control how we optimize our sites.

And you must also keep in mind that SEO is not bad or Black hat, if you do it correctly. SEO is designed to tell search engines what your site is about and help them index it properly.

Here’s what Google thinks about SEO

So What Can You Do To Help Ensure That Your Site Isn’t A Victim To This New Algorithm Change?

As has been the case since Google’s controversial “Panda” update, the search engine king is starting to become less of a search engine, and more of a content engine, which filters out the spammy “low value” – type sites and concentrates on good quality content that’s regularly updated.

Obviously, if you’ve been adding good content, researching your keywords carefully, and getting a natural number of backlinks, you should be just fine – keep doing what you’re doing.

But if you’re spending more time trying to figure out how to get thousands of cheap links from unrelated sites, or stuffing your keyword in every possible place and you’ve got content scrapers scouring the web every night, you’ll have to rethink your strategies.

Get Your Site Ready

So what can you do to take full advantage of this new search engine update?  It’s simple – write the kind of content that people will not only want to read, BUT ALSO SHARE.  Google takes these factors and many others into consideration.

Every algorithm isn’t an ‘all or nothing’ black or white update.  Take the time to properly target keywords, and carefully fill out and optimize your meta tags for SEO and for click-through rate.  Simple steps like this which are easy to overlook are often the first steps to securing a better ranking for your site.

No matter what your niche – avoid the temptation of black hat “tactics” and secret “maneuvers” that attempt to fly under Google’s radar.  You may be making good money now, but as the “Big G” shifts its focus from simply delivering results to showcasing the best content, it becomes quality over quantity.

If you’re not sure of what Google consider to be “quality content” check out this blog post: How Does Google Determine What is a High Quality Website?

What are your thoughts on this new algorithm update? Are you concerned that your site will lose its ranking? Or is this just more of what Google needs to do?  Post your thoughts and comments below.

AlexIs There Such a Thing as Too Much SEO? Google says “Yes”

Comments 30

  1. Earl

    Since we as marketers have no power over Google or their decisions concerning proper search results we have to play by their rules.

    Its like driving faster than the posted speed limit. You very well may get away with it for a while but rest assured one day you’ll get caught for rule violations.

    If you are following the rules you are not always looking over your shoulder for the Google slap.

    But like all systems sometimes we can get caught in the cracks. As unpleasant as this can be, just remember without good governing laws only confusion rules. So, change your ways and rest in the knowledge taking care of the searchers will result in your business growth.

    Its far better that the playing field is equal for all players.

    Thank you Google for making us aware of our responsibly and needed self discipline.

    Alex, keep up the good work your doing.


    1. Post
  2. Steve

    You hit it on the head in that you need to make your SEO and your content look natural. If you have Google Analytics and you’re not looking at bounce rate you can be sure Google is. Social Media is growing in importance. One must vary link types, keywords, page ranks, rate of links, etc. will be required. What a headache.

    1. Post
      Alex Safie

      Hi Steve,

      You’re right, BOUNCE RATE is becoming a very important metric for evaluating the quality of your content

  3. Tim B. Miller

    Hi Alex,

    Very nice post!

    It’s good to get the low down on what’s happening.

    What about rss feeds from Google with the Google Alert plugin have you heard of it?

    That is the only thing I am using for extra content.

    Keep up the Good Work!


    1. Post
      Alex Safie

      Thanks Tim,

      I don’t use the Google Alert Plugin so I’m not familiar with it, but I will do some research on it and let you know

  4. Anto Brasta

    I have read your Evergreen SEO, and now trying to practice on one of my new site,… I think it’s good for long term distance strategy,… And i love it,..

    Thank’s for the guided Alex, It’s really help me …..

    1. Post
      Alex Safie

      Thank you Anto,

      When doing SEO you must always think long term.

      Some spammy technique that’s working today will probably not work in the future, so you can get top rankings with it now but you’ll probably end up loosing them eventually.

      A clear example of this are all the blog networks being de-idexed by Google.

  5. Ade

    This is why I have always been very wary of offering SEO as a service as you really have no control and seem to be constantly walking a tightrope that is being shaken all the time.I can accept if my sites get penalized and lose rank but what would I tell a client ?

    One point he mentioned was writing good copy for humans is SEO…I don’t believe that…I really don’t know why he said that….that’s just rubbish.

    1. Post
      Alex Safie

      Hi Ade,

      What he probably meant is that when you write GREAT content with your target audience in mind it’s more likely that it will get shared and also people will naturally link to it (and shares and links are good for SEO)

  6. Laust Kehlet

    Hi Alex
    Very interesting post. Interesting where Google is going with their new algorithms…. I have very difficult believing that G will overrate on-page factors like content. As I see it the fundamental power of G is their ability to imitate the social IRL. And the more they focus on content and being a anti spam robot… Well that is going to be so bad for their business… I just can’t believe it, as a and old pro poker player I look at this something with extreme mistrust… There is just just something that smells so wrong in their story. In poker I would call Google – I would pay and see Googles cards! Why? Because stories that doesn’t make sense very often represents a bluff…. Especially from bad liars 😉

  7. Thomas Shaw

    Another interesting post Alex. I am not hiding my head in the sand but what Matt Cutts has to say I take with a pinch of salt.
    Google are looking to trust our websites, but here’s the thing, I don’t trust them. I can’t think of another company that is in more dire need of competition than Google.

  8. Mark

    I’m finding that some of my sites that have GREAT orginal and informative content are also being penalized. To be honest i think its becoming impossible to build sites and have any idea about where they might end up – even following the ‘rules’ is no guarantee. SEO is becoming little more than a sophisticated (but very time consuming) form of gambling.

    Having said i would never make the switch i am now investigating paid traffic where at least you have some control.

    1. Post
      Alex Safie

      Hi Mark,

      Yes, SEO is a very complex and organic topic but it definitely can be mastered with patience and persistence.

      My approach to it is to think like Google “How can I give my users the best possible answer to their queries and filter all the junk out so they don’t see it and only get quality info?”

      Google engineers are getting paid to ask themselves that question and find answers to it everyday.

      And yes; paid traffic is a great alternative, even if you’re getting organic traffic it’s always a good idea to diversify.

  9. Daniel

    Hey Alex,

    I love your tools by the way. I used KW Stealth and it is definitely the best keyword tool out there that I have seen. I havent used the other software for competition yet. I bought it and will check it out when I have time.

    I saw you mention bounce rate, and I wanted to add something….

    If you pay a little extra for high quality articles to an article writer that actually writes awesome unique content in their own words, then the bounce rate will be much better. Also, I add a video before the fold that is 2 minutes long, and my bounce rate went from 81% to 73%. Still a little high, but that is because most of my sites have affiliate links before the fold.

    Another thing regarding bounce rate is keyword selection. If you pick keywords that are not that relevant to the page you build backlinks to, then users will leave that page in a hurry. I never go for more than 2 keywords per post.

    I have also found that placing some sort of interactive flash on a site that will keep the user their a little longer helps. I even went as far as putting a small game”Pong” on the right side before the fold. My bounce rate on that site was 52%.

    There are many things you can do to decrease bounce rate, you just need to be creative.

    Question: How can Google know your bounce rate if you do not have Analytics installed?

    I have a theory…..

    When you sign up for an Analytics account, there are 2 boxes that are already checked. One is for news updates to Analytics, and the other is very vague. The box says it will help user experience by collecting data. That is not word for word what it says, but in a nutshell that is what it means. With that said, if we didnt use Google analytics, or simply unchecked the box, then how would they know our bounce rates?

    The only other thing I can think of is that if someone Googles “cheap auto insurance”, and they click on State Farm, stay for a few seconds then hit back on the browser to return to the search results page, then Google knows the bounce rate due to cookies. Google can see that the user Googled the term and left to comeback to the results. That time is then logged.

    Alex, Do you know how bounce rate works, or do you have a theory?

    1. Post
      Alex Safie

      Hi Daniel,

      It’s my understanding that bounce rate has more to do with the effectiveness of the entry page, so for example if a visitor enters your site from a page and then bounces back to the search results instead of navigating inside your site that will affect your bounce rate.

      Here’s how bounce rate is calculated:

      Rb = (Tv / Te)

      Rb = Bounce rate
      Tv = Total number of visitors viewing one page only
      Te = Total entries to page

  10. Ali

    Hi Alex,

    Great article. I think the thing to think about for future is concentrating on quality back links and readable content for the end users. Too many marketers have been spamming and spinning for too long, just to game Google and it has ruined the “quality” of the web for us all. I for one, welcome these new panda updates because we won’t have to trawl the SERPs to find what we are looking for as much! Keep up the work with the keyword tools dude, they totally rock and are some of the few WSOs I’ve actually paid for and still used! Regards, Ali

    1. Post
      Alex Safie

      Thanks Ali,

      And the good news is that as Google cleans up their index you have a better chance of ranking if you’re doing things the right way.

  11. Tom

    Great article Alex as usual.

    I like most of us here hate the spammy crap that was produced by some of these blog networks. Not all blog networks are created equal though and some have survived because they require quality. Most notably the networks that require one article/one submission, that is also unique content. From what I can see these are still safe at the moment.

    As far as SEO goes we can only guess where the Panda will set the bar next, but from my experience don’t make it any easier on Google than you have to. This is what I have done and you might want to think about it as well.

    Ditch Google analytics and replace it with Piwik Analytics. As far as I know Google doesn’t own it yet.

    Do not put AdSense on any site that it is not meant to be your main income from that site.

    Do not use Google Chrome to work on any of your sites. From what I understand this browser is known for retrieving information for Google. Use Firefox instead.

    I have had my trials and tribulations with Google as has everybody else, but a lot of my problems diminished once I stopped herding all my sites into one convenient area for Google scrutinize. In my humble opinion is better to blend in with the crowd than to use their free tools. Remember they’re free for a reason. Google is not your friend.

    Just my thoughts.

  12. C Laurent

    Great post, thanks Alex.

    I’ve heard Matt Cutts talking about “over-opimization” these last few weeks. No one knows exactly what this means yet, except that paid backlinks from trashy blog networks means “over-optimization.” Natural-looking diversity seems to be the key for backlinks now, with lots of non-keyword anchor texts mixed in.

    I’m wondering what your feelings are about on-page SEO now. I’ve been using Easy WP SEO plugin to set up my posts (if you’re not familiar with it, it’s one of those plugins that gives a rating for all on-page SEO factors such as KW capitalization, meta tags, alt tags, outbound links, etc). I aim 100% for every optimized page, which is easy to do, but I wonder if this sort of thing is now “over-optimization”. The content itself isn’t KW-stuffed, but there are KWs in everything else! What do you think about this? I’ve been working on a fresh site that doesn’t have many backlinks yet, and I notice that yahoo has ranked all the pages whereas G hasn’t rank any. I’m wondering if I should remove some KWs, LOL.

    I love your KW research tools, by the way. Keep up the good work!

    1. Post
      Alex Safie

      Yes I’m familiar with Easy WP SEO I use it on my sites.

      You can play around with its setting to adjust the parameters to your liking and always use long tail phrases that have your keywords in them inside your tags.

  13. Sean

    So is this saying that using the Stealth Keyword Generator to put keywords in my blog this whole time is actually going to screw me soon?

    1. Post
      Alex Safie

      Hi Sean,

      It’s not the keywords that can affect your site – is how you optimize your site with those keywords that can harm your rankings. As I said in the post “make it look natural” when you are placing your keywords in your tags, content and backlinks.

  14. online local marketing

    Hi Alex,

    Another excellent and informative post. Only the spammers can really fear Google’s algorithm updates.

    Whilst you can argue that it is a time consuming task that bloggers and other content creators have to adhere to, it’s pointing those same writers in the direction of original, quality content, which after all is said and done is the thing that we, as readers desire.

    content creators just need to continue to evolve, that’s all.

    Talk again soon.

    The Local Web Marketer team.

  15. Mark Hamilton

    Thanks for this data Alex. Your posts always make so much sense and are very logical. I have been putting your Green SEO data to use on my latest blog and it is working out great.
    Thanks for keeping us informed and for giving us such immediately useful data. You are the best.

  16. martin

    Hi Alex,
    I read everywhere about proper linkbuilding, but have not found natural backlinking strategy so far. can you maybe share some tips?

    1. Post
      Alex Safie

      Hi Martin,

      Just keep away from link building techniques that tend to look spammy (like forum profile links) and make sure to diversify your anchor text, 40% of your anchor text links can be your keyword and the rest use generic things like click here, read more, etc. and also LSI’s

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *