Google's New Algorithm is Penalizing Over-Optimized Websites

Services for Real Estate Pros with Personal SEO - Website SEO and Real Estate Marketing

This month Google released a new algorithm (the way they measure and track websites) that will actually penalize you for over optimizing your website. Google is always looking for the newest and best way to determine accurate search results for it's readers and those that simply optimize without actually providing relevant and fresh content may find themselves scrambling back to the top.over optimization

What they are trying to achieve is a level playing ground for those that optimize and those that just put out great content. Matt Cutts says,  "“And the idea is basically to try and level the playing ground a little bit, so all those people who have sort of been doing, for lack of a better word, ‘over-optimization or overly doing their SEO, compared to the people who are just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site, we want to sort of make that playing field a little more level." 

So does this mean that all the work you have done or paid for is going to harm your site?

That all depends on what you did and how far you went. This really is to elevate those with high-quality, relevant pages from pages that were just a collection of words about a subject. While many people really try and put out relevant content, some, and some SEO companies have just optimized the heck out of sites to where their hits are high but bounce rate is also extremely high, when you want it low (the amount of time spent on a website). 

Google is constantly trying to find the freshest information that fits the searchers criteria best. Does this mean that those keywords and links you added to pages will harm your site? Probably not unless you jammed 30 keywords in a 200 word document and linked to and from it 50 times. 

This penalization is for sites that do just that; over-optimize with no real meat to the site. So how do you make sure your site is not targeted in this over-optimization penalization? Here are some things to consider:

1. Make sure your site's name and domain are specific. Don't use generic terms too much such as Make your domain (if you can) specific to your area and your niche.

2. Keeping the "home" page just that, not a specific keyword. Google doesn't need to see your keyword everywhere to rank you for that keyword anymore. (can I just say that I'm guilty as charged?)

3. Using your main keyword over and over and linking it back to the home page numerous times in one page. While once is good, 5 times is bad. Directing people back to the main page is not a bad idea and using your keyword keeps the bot focused on your topic, doing it too much will start to raise red flags.

4. Linking a page to itself. This is technically old SEO tactics but Google will really start cracking down on it. Don't bother linking a page to itself using its keyword in the content. This is redundant and Google may start to rank this page lower because of it.

Should you be worried? Probably not, especially if you try and offer relevant content on a fresh and new basis for your clients. Over-doing it for the sake of SEO will start to look suspicious. Stay on top of the search results by know your competition and how you're ranked and you should do fine. Although we may be seeing a lot of new sites pop up because of this.

Posted by

Personal SEO Tim and Tammy Emineth

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Tim and Tammy Emineth have owned Personal SEO since 2004. We focus on SEO first whether it's blogging, images, website design, IDX solutions and calls to action. We operate with a Storybrand philosophy to encourage more traffic to your site, more eyes on your content and more leads to your business. Call us or email us for a free website audit.

Tim: 425-443-8372  Tammy: 425-344-0677

Comments (81)

Jim Paulson
Progressive Realty (Boise Idaho) - Boise, ID

The people at Google don't make BILLIONS on advertising by letting you do what you have always done and obtain the same results.  When their key element for income is having to pay for online ads, a good SEO based website is their "enemy".   I don't expect them to ever get complacent.  Can you say the same about your marketing?

Mar 28, 2012 04:23 AM
Victoria CB Trees
Victoria CB Trees Real Estate Services - Chiloquin, OR
Principal Broker

I have been building and maintaining "simple" sites for a dozen years, and the first thing I learned right at the beginning is that the "google" rules change all the time.  Therefore every site I build (which I don't do much of anymore... too busy doing real estate), the first thing I do is make sure the keywords and the content matches.  Then I leave it alone.  Sometimes we come up better than other times, but hey, we always come up!

Mar 28, 2012 04:34 AM
Cynthia Larsen
Cotati, CA
Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA

LOL, I'm with Karen. I've never gotten as far as optimizing, let alone over doing it. When in doubt, fresh content rules.

Mar 28, 2012 07:21 AM
Judy Orr
HomeSmart - Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale AZ and surrounding towns

I realized the algorithm was in full gear because although I'm on the first page of Google for many keywords, I moved up all of a sudden for some new ones I've been working on recently.  The good thing is I have gone above some of the big portals for certain keywords, and that's how it should be IMHO.  I'm a local brokerage creating posts and pages about the areas I live and work in.  That should trump the big guys that just pay big bucks for SEO so they can sell the leads back to us.  I'm very happy with this update.

Mar 28, 2012 08:01 AM
Jirius Isaac
Isaac Real Estate &TriStar Mortgage - Kenmore, WA
Real Estate & loans in Kenmore, WA

I do not know how this will effect me for my present or future blogs, so I guess I will have to spend some time figuring it out.  thanks for the heads up.  More things to do that I do not have time for.

Mar 28, 2012 08:23 AM
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi Tammy, thanks for sharing.  I applaud Google for determining sites which optimize just for the search rather than true updates.

Mar 28, 2012 10:26 AM
Kay Van Kampen
RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX - Springfield, MO
Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate

Hey Lady, haven't seen you here lately.  Congratulation on the featured post.  You are making me take a look at my website in fear of the Google Gods........and I just changed the front page of my website.

Mar 28, 2012 10:54 AM
Pam Dent
Gayle Harvey Real Estate, Inc. - Charlottesville, VA
REALTOR® - Charlottesville Virginia Homes / Horse

Tammy - Google is always changing the rules.  It can be hard to keep up with.  I agree with Katerina.  They don't want us to be able to rank by ourselves.  They are in the business of making money and that means selling ads.

Mar 28, 2012 01:54 PM
Derk Simonson

Hi Tammy,  I was interested in this post because on March 15 I lost all my Google rankings.  Then, on the 27th of March, a new SEO rankings Report showed all my rankings are back and better than ever, SO, I've been trying to find out what happened.  I've been paying for optimization for 9 months.  That guy thought it must have been something I did (or my host did) to my URL or my website platform.  I use a template based website so I couldn't have changed it (and the host didn't change it) and my URL is the same as it was from the beginning.  Another SEO person thought it was probably Google re-indexing that caused me to lose my rankings.  DO you have any thoiught on this?




Mar 29, 2012 02:23 AM
Brett Richman
Summers/East Coast Realty Group - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Louisiana Real Estate
Great info
Mar 29, 2012 05:00 AM
Eric Kodner
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes - Minnetonka, MN
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island

Google sells keywords too. I wonder if AdWords makes more money than Google's top-of-page ads in search..

Mar 29, 2012 06:39 AM
RealSupport, Inc.
RealSupport Inc. - Schaumburg, IL
- Virtual Real Estate Marketing

Thanks for sharing this, Tammy! We'll take this information and use it when writing our clients' blog posts ;).

Mar 29, 2012 08:30 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Great post.  I get confused about what to do for SEO sometimes.  Overall it seems to be working out, but I will keep watching.

Mar 29, 2012 01:05 PM
Ken Anderson
Apex Results Realty Inc., Brokerage - Burlington, ON
Broker in Burlington, Ontario

Good post and thank you for more good information, Tammy.  I'm guilty of blogging but not keeping the content of my website fresh and exciting.  Get content-blocked constantly, but I'll persevere to try to try to make an effort (sic).  Got some good ideas under the umbrella, so now to put them to work!

Mar 30, 2012 01:56 AM
Dave Keys
MOVE UP in Google Search Learn How Here - Brea, CA
Chief Search Strategist Real Estate SEO Expert

If only... some may say. If only Google could really do as they say. It's difficult, but I think aside from the hype every time Google announces an algo change, the continuous incremental and across-the-board changes Google has been implementing regarding content has had a real impact over the last year or so, and will continue to do so. 

I realize there's no easy answer for Google to deliver what it wants and what people want (not always aligned) in search results. Apparently, like Democracy, it's a problematic troubled system but it's better than all the others.

Mar 30, 2012 03:54 AM
Angie Nwanodi
Evergreen Realty & Associates, Inc. - Rancho Cucamonga, CA
The ACG Group, Realtors®|Standard, Short, HUD, REO

Thanks for the update.  Keeping up is mind-boggling.  Bookmarking for later digestion; one piece at a time.

Apr 01, 2012 04:03 PM
Short Sales, Foreclosure & Bank Owned Real Estate

Tammy thank you for the great infromation!!

Apr 03, 2012 04:08 AM
Brett Monk
Real Estate Photography Class - Fairfax, VA

Thanks for a very informative post.

In hindsight, do you think that having an "anti-scraping" plugin could have prevented this?

Apr 18, 2012 12:29 AM
Pam Jank
Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty - Coeur d'Alene, ID
Your Coeur d'Alene & North Idaho Real Estate Pro

Tammy,  My site doesn't come up in the top rankings anymore. I'm assuming it has something to do with what you are talking about.  Guess I'll have to take some time to explore and revise.

Aug 17, 2013 02:10 AM
Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
850-476-4494 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

Trying to get on the first page of Google and was looking at your post Tammyn to compare notes 

Jul 31, 2014 02:36 PM