Google To Introduce Penalties For ‘Overly-Optimised’ Sites

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Google Engineer Matt Cutts says sites that “go beyond what a normal person would expect” could be penalised

Google is apparently working on a penalty system for websites which are “overly-optimised” for search rankings.

The idea “is basically to level the playing field a little bit”, according to Google engineer Matt Cutts.

Paying the penalty

Speaking at a panel entitled ‘Dear Google and Bing: Help Me Rank Better’ at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, Cutts said Google wanted to make sure sites which were creating great content were not being crowded out by those which were better at Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

“There is something we’ve been working on for the last few months and hopefully in the next couple of months or in the coming weeks we hope to release it,” revealed Cutts. “We’re trying to make the GoogleBots smarter” and make “our relevance more adaptive.”

The aim was to look at the people who were abusing SEO by using too many keywords and exchanging too many links to “go beyond what a normal person would expect.” Cutts added that several engineers were working on the issue and it was an active area of development.

Google has previously defended itself against complaints about the quality of its search results and last month it announced it was going to change its search algorithm in an effort to reduce rankings for low-quality sites known as content farms.

The company has also launched a small application for its Chrome web browser which allows users to block websites from appearing in their search results, effectively enlisting the support of the public to clamp down on such instances. Last week, reports emerged that Google was to refresh its search formula so that searches returned more direct answers to specific queries rather than just showing links.

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