I assume you’ve heard about Google announcing an upcoming crackdown on ‘over-optimized’ websites? I bet the news has reached even the most faraway parts of the SEO galaxy.
As is often the case, Google did not say what exactly it meant by ‘over-optimized websites’. The only concrete piece of information that Matt Cutts provided was that the update would target those ‘throwing too many keywords on a page or exchanging too many links’. Well, what if I exchange not ‘too many’ links, would I be OK then?
OK, seriously speaking, what strikes me as odd is that this time Google decided to pre-announce the change, which is NOT what they normally do. I wonder if that’s just another Google’s stunt, intended to get SEO’s spooked out, so that they just roll over and stop their ‘malicious’ SEO practices?
Across the SEO community, the signs of mild panic have been showing. Even though the majority of SEOs maintain their cool and the most experienced ones are saying ‘you know, we’ve been there before’, some guys have begun to freak out. The latter is especially true of the SEO newbies who do not really know whether doing something or not doing anything will save them from Google’s wrath.
And, what’s interesting (as Ben Cook of Direct Match Media shrewdly pointed out) the penalty is more likely to affect unaware site owners and webmasters, rather than savvy SEOs who know better than stuffing their pages with keywords and are good enough at covering up traces of link exchange.
The report-your-own-links innovation
Speaking of backlinks. At the news of the upcoming update, many SEO’s scorned: “Pff, c’mon! If Google penalized sites for suspicious-looking link profiles, it’d be easy to destroy a competitor by just hitting them with a bunch of junk links”.
Well, guys, guess what Google did the other day. Some webmasters reported receiving warnings in their Google Webmaster Tools accounts about “possibly artificial or unnatural links” pointing to their sites and were told that “if they [webmasters] find unnatural links to their sites that they are unable to control or remove, they should provide the details in their reconsideration requests.”
Is Google trying to trick webmasters into reporting their own links? And, again, what links?
Google’s official response was that the e-mails were part of Google becoming more vocal about what backlinks they distrust or do not attach much weight to. Well, Google, something is off with this statement of yours. In your messages, you do not really tell what particular backlinks you’re talking about, instead, you expect webmasters to guess. Another stunt by Google? Perhaps.
Is Google pushing SEOs into disarmament?
Lately, some people on SEO forums have been coming up with quite bizarre ideas like reverse-engineering their backlink profiles or NOT building any links right now to avoid potential penalty. Well, I think those guys must be anxious by nature (or SEO-ignorant), because, to me, there is no material reason to be worried at this point, since Google has not even released the much-hyped update yet.
Could it be that Google is bluffing and trying to push SEO’s to play in its hands, while it continues to work on a secret ‘over-optimization’ detection algorithm, which may not be even ready yet? We shall see. Meanwhile, your thoughts and ideas on the matter would be highly appreciated.