SEO: Can there be too much of a good thing?

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OVER OPTIMIZATION

Rumor has it that for the past few months Google has been working on a new penalty that targets sites that overly optimize for search engines.  Basically, the idea is to reward sites that have valuable content over sites that have low-quality content but rank higher because of more effective SEO.  Google has always frowned upon websites that abuse SEO tactics to optimize sites while ignoring quality content and user value.  Especially within the last few years, Google has encouraged webmasters to provide original, rich content instead of solely using insider tricks to improve search engine rankings. Only recently has there been talk of actually penalizing the sites.  During a panel hosted by Search Engine Land in mid-March, Google’s Matt Cutts announced that Google is working on a search ranking penalty for sites that are “over-optimized.” However, Google has not officially made any statements about the potential upcoming penalty.

CREATE USEFUL CONTENT

Being in the business of SEO, I’d imagine that many of my peers have mixed feelings on the issue.  Personally, I fully agree with the principle of continually creating useful web content for users, but my business is also built on the backbone of utilizing SEO practices to improve website visibility.  I believe the correct philosophy is a good combination of both worlds: content and technology.  In other words, to apply the principle of providing valuable, original content along with smart and fair techniques that improve search engine optimization.  Although SEO might bring a customer to your website, good content should keep them at the site and motivate them to come back.  When I approach clients with my plan of action, my ideas include ways to improve or create valuable web content.  What are your thoughts?  Should businesses have their rankings penalized for using insider tricks to bypass quality content?

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