If you were in the audience at South by South West (SXSW) you would have heard both Google and Bing declaring that they are working on some changes in their algorithm which would allow them to penalize site which were over optimized. This would help them in improving their search results. This might mean bad news for a lot of SEOs. No official details have bee released yet, but there are a lot of rumors as to what might really take place after these algorithm changes.
Penalties over optimization that benefits the visitor
This is probably the biggest concern for everyone involved. Over-optimization is a terms that can mea various things. Many people are under the impression that this step might be a move to bring optimized sites on par with unoptimized sites. The step would essentially aim at things which are a part of optimized sites but not done by unoptimized sites. This includes
- Placing keywords in H1 tags
- Using keywords in navigation links
- Variations of a phrase
- Placing the keyword in the title tag
It is highly improbable that the new algorithm takes action against these steps. One of the things - using too many key words and phrases is already frowned upon by most SEOs. All in all, if your optimization techniques make life easier for a visitor then you can expect to not be affected by the changes.
Penalties over excessive links
This seems to be a distinct possibility. Link building is a very important part for nay SEO campaign. However, sites now manipulate links to increase the link count. Search engines already penalize sites that use link farms and have too many low quality links. Now the question that is being put up is that how do you define too many links. It is possible that the number of links a site has might be compared with links other site in its niche has. If there is a large difference then the site would be penalized. However, sometimes viral videos or good PR can lead to rapid link growth. This factor has to be considered by search engines.
Balancing link text
One of the ways to differentiate between unoptimized and optimized sites is analyzing the ratio of keyword rich link and normal links. Normal sites usually have a less keyword enriched links than an optimized site. It is possible that search engines start devaluing these enriched links or even imposing direct penalties. If such a change happens then link building will continue but less tress will be laid on keyword optimization.
Linking with social media presence
You can already see Google laying a lot of stress on the social media presence which ah company ahs. In the future it might start comparing the link growth with social growth. If the growth of social media lags the link growth then it might hint at link manipulation. It can also be looked in the opposite way that if link building is slower than social media growth then the social sphere is being manipulated. In either case, sites will have to ensure that social engagement is on par with their link growth.
Related article: Non-Obvious Factors That May Cause a Google Penguin Hit