Posted March 21, 2012.
I have very strong reasons to believe Google will be. From the news we heard this and last week, it looks like conventional SEO may be headed out the door and the semantic web is about to be launched.
For over 4 to 5 years, Google and other popular search engines have been talking about the future of semantic search and from some of the information I’ve gathered lately about Google’s new SEO ranking factors (and their request that SEOs stop over-optimizing websites) it seems to me that Google’s new ranking factors could very well wipe out conventional SEO and semantic search results may start taking over.
For one, the new ranking factors that we can look forward to over the next few months with Google are described as factors that will be “levelling the playing field” with the application of an over-optimization penalty. As a seasoned SEO, I can only truly see two ways in which over-optimization can be determined. The one way is through unscrupulous link building strategies.
Again, to quote Matt Cutts on the issue:
And so that’s the sort of thing where we try to make Google Bot smarter, we try to make our relevance more adaptive so that people don’t do SEO…and we also start to look at the people who abuse it, whether they throw to many keywords on a page or whether they exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect.
And of course the other way is through the on-page SEO tactic of keyword stuffing but I still have a problem with believing this is the big change we should be expecting. I believe keyword stuffing problems were taken care of by Google many years ago and the practice can be determined to be active quite easily.
So what are we left with? As of now, SEOs have been warned not to get too many un-natural links and not to keyword stuff. So be it but is that the big ranking change we should expect in the future? I’m making a big assumption here but I believe there’s more to it than this.
Now let’s go back a few days ago to an article by Vanessa Fox. She wrote her own detailed synopsis of the upcoming changes of the Google search results overly-optimized sites and most of what she’s saying revolves around quality content which is useful to the users and “relevant”. I counted the word relevant 4 times in the article. I counted “content” 11 times.
Then there’s this quote in her article by Matt Cutts:
“We’re always trying to best approximate if a user lands on a page, are they going to be really, really happy instead of really, really annoyed? And if it’s the sort of thing where they land on a page and they are going to be annoyed, then that is the sort of thing that we’ll take action on.”
In my view none of this is or can be new. Don’t you agree?
If I’m correct, over the next few weeks and within a few months, the new search algorithm changes won’t have much to do with the regular “relevant” stuff SEOs are used to working with. I believe SEOs that keyword stuff are already learning the practice doesn’t bode to well for them and every SEO knows the value of their links are worthless when they come from pretty useless websites.
So my conclusion today, in line with the fact that Google has started to answer questions more and more is that they’ll be releasing an algorithm change related to the semantic web and more specifically, semantic search and search results. They’ve placed so much trust in the technology and I believe it’s release will indeed see spammers and low-quality websites fall by the wayside – or receive a “penalty” as some would put it.
To sum it up. I don’t believe the over-optimization penalty is an actual penalty slapped onto the website in question. I believe their semantic search algorithm will probably be very much able (and engineered) to determine the quality of the content on websites better and easier than their algorithm did in the past.
As was pointed out in the Wall Street Journal article last week, Google will be launching their long-time project of search related to the semantic web over the next few months.
If you put 2 and 2 together you’ll see there’s a very strong chance that the Google “over-optimization” penalty (which is all about good content) and Semantic Search can easily go hand in hand.
But as I mentioned, this is just my supposition of the latest news and events related to Google search so we’ll have to see if my assumptions were right. I’ll surely be posting my views and observations over the next few weeks. Stay tuned.