Cnet: Google Plans to Penalize ‘Overly Optimized’ Sites

According to, Google is planning to penalize sites that overuse search-engine-optimization techniques.

Google engineer Matt Cutts discussed the plan at South by Southwest (SXSW) and Search Engine Land posted an audio clip from a panel discussion.

“Google wants to “level the playing field” regarding “all those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO–versus those making great content and great sites”.

“We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect.”

“The changes will begin affecting search results “in the upcoming month or next few weeks”

This should make exact match domain even more valuable as Google continues to lessen the ability to game the system.


  1. rk says

    “This should make exact match domain even more valuable as Google continues to lessen the ability to game the system.”

    Well said Mike.

    Btw, love your blog……….it is a top source of exciting domaining news for me.


  2. says

    Interesting ! ISEO’ don’t use & never have used ad words & seldom do entries into Google at all – DBO’ are the go especially since they have introduced the new gTLD’ – I still use Google to search –

  3. says

    This can also mean, somebody can sabotage their competitors by throwing a lots of backlinks and overly optimize the competitors site?

    The answer is no..because..

    Aged domains especially which already ranked, will not be affected by this. Only new domains which are nowhere in the search engine, will be affected.

    Just my 2 cents..:)

  4. says

    Maybe this is gonna be a hot topic
    next month when many sites are
    penalized? Hot hot temperature!

    Whatever it is, moderate optimize
    is the only option. Not too over.

  5. WQ says

    Most are providing paid links to their advertisers…those are the ones they need to weed out and they have a list of all of them already handy.

    Might put a lot of copyright infringers, I mean content writers out of business though.

  6. says

    Unique content is one of the solution to get ranked in the google search engine, on top of not over optimize. Check my site to get a great software to produce unique article in just minutes.

  7. says

    What’s so hard to understand?

    Most SEO over optimization is done by non-informational, traffic generation sites.
    Most businesses are focused on their core content.

    Guess what most people are looking for?

    Internet marketers are going to need a bigger and better schtick, thank god.

  8. Anon says

    @ Tom

    For the past five years, the babble about exact matching domains has been their SEO boost.

    To Google, the entire practice of “SEO” is contrary to what they want to do.
    Anyone with half a brain who’s kept up with what Cutts has said over the years knows that exact matching domains have had a love-hate relationship at the Big G. It’s entirely possible that with this change, whatever benefit they’ve enjoyed over the years will be turned off, or ratcheted down to the point of being an equal metric among thousands of others.

    If Google has shown anything, it’s that they’re willing to make gigantic algorithmic changes on a dime.

    Domainers shouldn’t be sleeping easy here until the facts are in.
    The idea that this is ‘good news’ has no basis in anything credible.

  9. Snoopy says

    “The idea that this is ‘good news’ has no basis in anything credible.”


    Agree, I’m sure they’d see a lot of the “content” on exact match domains as an issue.

  10. Anon says

    Backlink types make a big difference.

    Google sure loves Social Networking chatter given it’s real time properties, not to mention its inherent credibility and ease of vetting (as opposed to huge farms of fake facebook and twitter accounts manipulated for SEO purposes, which can be easily identified and slammed).

    This (domainers) isn’t really the crowd you want to be following on wisdom related to search.

  11. says

    Peoples by just doing seo work rank themselves better than the genuine guys, in this process quality content might negotiated, and this is wrong that’s why I really appreciate this move by google. Because of this good site get equal chance to rank.

  12. Domains Powered by Algae Fuel says

    I’ve been saying for years to ignore Google because you eventually will anyhow.

    What this tells me, reinforced again by this move, is to COMPLETELY ignore Google and never worry about optimization. Seriously.

    “SEO Time” is better spent elsewhere getting traffic you can count on instead of playing the Google slave dance. Go buy domains, get strategic links, advertise elsewhere and build relationships that will go the distance instead of a dead end with Google. Take what Google gives but don’t waste energy on them. Do right, do wrong, they will still slap you, so why give them the time of day?

    There is so much peace of mind “owning traffic” instead of getting from Google, I sure am glad I’m a domain investor right now instead of freaking out about having spent two years getting a sites to #1 to #5 positions only to worry now about my links and keyword placements on the sites. I’d feel like a real sucker!!

    I have to admit, so many of these cheese-eating sites need to go down. They really are a much, much worse experience than parked pages.

  13. says

    Oh, for crying out loud. I feel for anyone who works in SEO, because their job basically gets reinvented every 48 hours. Or whenever a new Google press release comes out. I don’t like the fact that one company dictates so much of what goes on.

  14. says

    I listened to the audiocast and I don’t think it really will change anything much except for penalize what should be anyway.

    How are they going to judge what is ‘great websites with great content’ anyway?

    social media, authority backlinks, user behavior etc etc.

    What they are saying is, over onpage optimization and artificial linkbuilding will not be rewarded as it once was.

    So, if all you do is write keyword rich, useless content, and buy, or trade links, you are not going to have as much success.

    However, if your site is not keyword rich, or doesn’t have a bunch of crap inlinks , BUT, has several GOOD links, lots of mentions in social media and your users don’t bounce, but stay engaged in your website, you will be rewarded.

    pretty basic stuff, and what a good SEO should be doing already

  15. says

    I dont see this as a benefit to emd sites. I am seeing google make arbitrary decisions on lead gen related sites I have built out, simply becuase they have lead forms on them, claiming these to be doorway pages. Their webmaster tools back end can reveal a lot, but they simply offer no support on when, why they penalize sites and have been on record on several occasions indicating tweaking down the benefit of the domain name on the search result, so I dont see how you this is really good news.

  16. says

    I may be learning the lesson the hard way, but I always felt ranking high in Google was the answer. But when your site is quickly dropped for whatever the google bots decide is relevant then an online business can’t rely on this type of uncertainty.

    Seems old fashioned advertising may be the answer, unless you have keyword traffic. Again, having good seo and google is great…but not dependable…

    Google likes to remind me of this..just recently on one site I own.

  17. I Haz Me A Domane Nam. says

    Ranking high in Google is the answer.

    The problem for domainers/sham developers is, Google is getting a lot better at algorhymically comprehending what constitutes credibility. What this ultimately means is that the “built for Google, pray they click” model- aka, manipulating serp- is rapidly finding its way into the great digital trashcan in the sky.

    It’s a lot harder to get large groups of people to give a shit about your site than it is to get Google to rank it. It’s all boiling down to things like ‘user stickiness’ and ‘relationship durability’ – things that relate to marketing and human beings; not SEO, not domain names (as they’re employed for this purpose).

    The signals thrown off by social networking has an impeccable synergy with this idea. Google has been headlong down this path for the past half decade, getting better and better at it with each passing year.

    As with everything else, maybe 10% of the participants are on the cutting edge, while the other 90% is playing with a three year old rulebook, looking towards each other for guidance.

  18. Back in the real World says

    Don, do you have a link to where they talk about lead gen forms affecting serps? I have never seen that before would be greatful.

    I dont care about minisites being blown out the water. I dont care about SEO guys losing their shirts. I do feel sorry for the mom and pop stores that write into Google webmasters forum everytime there are tweaks, which seem to be every second, who see their livelyhoods go down the pan overnight.

    Also I read a few blackhat forums and these guys adapt very quickly, the ones that are affected at least which is also less than the bystanders that get nuked. I would equate Googles war with blackhatters like the war on terror or the war on drugs, its a battle that will never be won and ultimately the prevention kills more people than the disease.

  19. says


    he may be referring to the recent ‘above the fold’ update where google was devaluing pages that contained mostly ads, or not a lot of good readable content in the top half of the page. A lead generation form that takes up most of the top of a site may fall into this category.

    If a microsite has good engaging content, it should’nt hurt rankings. You offer quality information related exactly to what people are looking for, it’s fine. If you attract visitors and 98% of the time they click ‘back’ within 5Seconds- you are in for a rankings drop.

    As it should be

  20. I Haz Me A Domane Nam says

    @ Back

    They (blackhats) do adapt quickly, but there are several things that can’t be ‘overcome’ by raw signal manipulation.

    Ironically enough, it’s the sites that rely on Google the least for their traffic who are most likely to benefit most from these changes.

  21. says

    @ back

    No, they have made several public statements indicating pushing sites down that advertise above the fold. I have had 3 lead gen sites get penalized in the past 60 days and classified as “doorway page sites” they had a java based lead form on the home page above the fold and also had 2 adsense ad blocks (thus 3 total ads) on the page, these were emd sites built from wordpress, all unique content and manually penalized by google, not overly run with ads either…and fresh content was being added every week, tried submitting several requests for reinclusion, etc…google has a strong bias against lead gen websites and arbitrarily does what it wants, the idea that only the almighty G is allowed to make money is quite a sham, they need a does of reality from the anti-trust division, more transparency and probably need to be broken apart in my opinion…

  22. Back in the real World says

    Thanks for sharing that Don. I take it you are moving your lead gen form to another location that will have less response but at least maintain PR from now on.

    I haz –

    Good way to look at it. A lot of the blackhat guys really dont care even when they get sandboxed. They will just get another crappy domain, scrap box the whole world and rank for another two months while they sell you some ebook about losing weight!


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