Google plans to penalize 'overly optimized' sites

A Google engineer says the company is rejiggering its search results so that sites with excessive optimization don't trump sites with solid content.

Google is planning to penalize sites that overuse search-engine-optimization techniques, according to a report.

Barry Schwartz over at Search Engine Land has posted an audio clip from a panel discussion at the recent South by Southwest confab, in which Google engineer Matt Cutts discusses the plans.

In search results, 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," Schwartz quotes Cutts as saying, in a rough transcription.

"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 transcript continues.

Schwartz reports that the changes will begin affecting search results "in the upcoming month or next few weeks," though he adds that Google had no official comment on the matter.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that Google is about to embark on the biggest-ever overhaul of its search system, one that involves "semantic search," as well as changes to search engine optimization, advertising, and page-ranking results.

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