There’s been quite a lot of conjecture this week in the SEO world about a comment Matt Cutts (Head of Google’s Webspam team) let slip a week ago at the SXSW conference. Before I give you my two bob’s worth, this is exactly what Matt said:
“We don’t normally pre-announce changes but there is something we’ve been working on for the last few months and hope to release it in the next months or few weeks. We are trying to level the playing field a bit. 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 comment seems to have divided the SEO/Search community. I’ve seen numerous articles titled ‘The Death of SEO’ or something similar while others have brushed it off as natural progression of Search Engines. I think the most measured response is a combination of both view points. Google is constantly trying to serve up the most relevant pages to give the best user experience. The multiple Panda updates released last year clearly indicate the importance of quality content in achieving this; it was always a natural progression that Google would eventually crack down on people over-optimising to serve up poor quality content that may have escaped Panda. If you’re carrying out SEO to help these types of poor pages rank higher than great pages then you’re doing a disservice to the web community in general.