This change is slated to roll out in the next few weeks or months. This is not something coming “down the line,” but in the very immediate future.
The idea is that Cutts wants high quality websites by non-marketers to rank highly, rather than just websites created by marketing experts. Since some of the web’s best content is put out by people who don’t know anything about SEO, this new change is designed to help get that kind of content to the top.
What’s an “Overly SEOed” Page?
As you’d expect with Google, Matt Cutts didn’t actually come out and say what they’re looking for. Instead, they just give general guidelines on what to do (or what not to do.) The rest is up to webmasters to figure out.
That said, the main idea here is once again to focus on content quality rather than trying to game the system. This has been a consistent theme throughout the Panda, Panda 2.0 and Penguin updates. It’s the same with this update, just with a different slant.
These are some of the specific things you should watch out for with this update.
Avoid Different Pages Targeting Similar Keywords With Almost Identical Content
One mistake that webmasters often make is trying to create different pages with different keywords they’re targeting, but having similar content on both pages. They do this because they’re trying to create one exact match page per keyword.
For example, let’s say there are three keywords you want to target:
“How to lose belly fat”
“Burn belly fat tips”
“Easy way to lose belly fat”
In the past, a lot of marketers would have created 3 different pages for each keyword so they could optimize each page for that keyword. Today, that’s not a good idea, since the content on all 3 pages is going to be quite similar.
Instead, create just one piece of content and try to make it as good as possible. Write for people, not for search terms or search engines.
Keyword Density and Bolding Are Out the Door
Don’t try to shoot for a 5% keyword density or to have all your keywords in subheads, bolded anymore. It simply doesn’t matter. It just makes your content sound less natural and reduces your chances of getting natural backlinks.
Self-Generated Links Are Suspect
Techniques that allow you to generate your own backlinks to your site are suspect. For example, going to Squidoo or Hubpages and creating pages that link back to you or going on sites like Reddit and creating backlinks to your site.
Any links that you create yourself to your site are going to lose a lot of their value and potentially hurt you if you’re overdoing it.
Again, Google’s looking at websites that are “going overboard” with their SEO. After all, a truly high quality website is going to have a lot of real people linking to it, not a lot of self-generated links.
Stop Following an “SEO Formula”
If Google starts noticing websites all over the web that follow the same format, and you own a website that follows the same format, chances are you’re in trouble.
For example, for a while there was a rush of Amazon review sites that all followed the same design and the same format. These sites all got hit at the same time.
If you’re following an SEO guru who’s giving out templates or following a “secret affiliate marketing system” that’s supposed to help you rank, beware. Chances are Google will catch on and the system will end up hurting rather than helping you.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is this: This more you try to artificially boost your rankings, the more you’ll likely end up hurting yourself. Google hasn’t come outright and said what not to do and they probably won’t. But once the “Overly SEOed” update rolls out, you don’t want to be anywhere near the fallout.