Website optimization is the process of implementing tactics that will improve the visibility of a site for search engines. In order to "get found" certain strategies are practiced for better SEO, however not all of these practices are honest techniques. With that being said, the tactics used for optimization can be classified into two large categories: white hat and black hat tactics.
White hat techniques produce results that last a long time, whereas black hat techniques may shoot a websites search ranking up only temporarily. Black hat techniques are often the result of website over-optimization, something that Google now plans to implement penalties for.
What is website over-optimization? Is a malpractice that is not technical and is unethical and is often used by some to boost rankings of a website. These tactics are implemented in the following areas:
- Keyword stuffing - when a web page is loaded with keywords in meta tags or in the content of the page. Improper keyword usage can also occur when when:
The domain name is a keyword
Changed "home" links anchor text to the top keyword
- Doorway pages and hidden text - doorway pages are created by the use of hidden text, graphic links and a hidden site map that links to all of the doorway pages. These pages are filled with optimized text.
- Duplicate content - the use of multiple pages of the same content in hopes of ranking higher for keywords
- Link spam - using link building software or exchanging too many links.
Who is being penalized for over-optimization?
While formal penalization has yet to occur, we can speculate that those who find themselves practicing any of the aforementioned tactics could be subject to a penalty. What would the penalty be? Theoretically, Google could pull the site or at the very least suspend it for a period of time. The site could experience a huge loss in hits, traffic and overall ranking.
How can you avoid over-optimization/being penalized?
To put it simply, you can avoid being penalized if you avoid all black hat tactics!
What does this initiative mean for your SEO and the SEO of others?
The idea of this initiative by Google is to make achieving great rankings a fair process. Those who produce great content will be rewarded with the high rankings they deserve verses those who are taking advantage of black hat tactics. So, if your keyword strategy is honest, fair and doesn't involve stuffing or spamming, you'll be in the clear!