Thoughts on Google’s Announcement that they will be targeting over-optimized sites

Really Google, you’re going to be targeting over optimized sites? Wow, that is big news (insert sarcastic expression here). That is about as breaking a news story as possibly “Brazilians are good at soccer” or “Barry Bonds may have been on steroids during record breaking season”. Seriously Google, maybe you can announce that you are increasing penalties, or maybe changing the way you target over optimized websites, but it is obvious to most in the know that this is something that you already have been doing for years. So why the announcement, my guess is that it is intended more as a deterrent to keep websites from optimizing at too high of level. In Google’s perfect world, no sites are optimized, and everything is natural. That would make Google’s algorithms much more effective, and it would make Matt Cutt’s job along with the web spam team’s work so much easier. However, in the real world where we live, and where Google lives whether they like it or not, websites will continue to be optimized for search engines and with Google as the dominant search engine for Google in particular.

What could Google specifically be cracking down on?

There are a number of well known over optimization techniques that Google as long cracked down on. Such techniques include obvious on-site spammy tactics as keyword stuffing (the act of repeating or using the target keywords frequently within a page), or invisible text. But what I think Google will be going after more is what is commonly referred to as link spam. That is the act of a webmaster or SEO going out and getting lots of links back to a site using specific keywords in the links. The problem Google will always have here is it can be difficult to tell the difference in many cases between legitimate incoming links and link spam unless the SEO or webmaster over does it. In many cases where Google has already penalized sites for link spam, I suspect that they use an algorithm to determine some factor that they consider out of whack, such as too many links coming to a site at one time with the same link text, or too many links pointing to only one page of a site, or too few links with natural elements such as URL or name of the company, or links from too many sites that Google deems low quality. It is also likely that they are looking at some combination of these factors. The thing that puzzles me is that they have been doing this for years.

So back to my original question, why do they make this announcement now? I think it is simply a matter of trying to scare site owners and webmasters to discourage SEO in an attempt to make the job of fighting link spam easier.

What do you think?

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How to Dominate Local Search

While local search and general organic search have their similarities, it is also important to understand that they are primarily unique from one another. It is possible to do well at one, while not doing well in the other, and vice versa. The following are a few keys to doing well in local search. Do them well and chances are you will dominate for your local keywords.

Claim you Local Listings on the Big Three:
It is essential that you claim and optimize you local listings for Google, Yahoo and Bing. This is not only so that you can control your listings, but it is also essential to make sure that your listings don’t get hijacked which is a surprisingly frequent occurrence. To claim the big three use the following urls:




Use appropriate keywords and categories in your listing

This aspect of local search is very  much the same as organic. It is essential that you include the keywords that you wish to rank for in the descriptions, titles, or categories in your local listings. There are a number of places that you can include these, ranging from the main description to the attributes. Just like with organic SEO, you should attempt to do so in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing and makes sense to the user.

Add your Business to as many local sites as you can

In addition to Google, Yahoo and Bing, there are hundreds of other sites that offer local business listings, ranging from social sites like Yelp and Insider Pages to local directories and yellow pages. The more of these you can have your business listed in the better.

Be Consistent and Include your Website

It is important to be consistent so that the big three search engines can connect all your listings and realize that you are everywhere. I generally recommend using your business name, then city and state in your listing title. It is essential that your vital information such as phone number, address, email and website are the same through all listings. It is especially important to include your website if you want it to rank in local rankings.

Develop a strategy for getting positive reviews

Reviews are an essential component of your local rankings. This is one of the places where social media and SEO become the most interconnected. If Google, Bing or Yahoo see your local listing getting a ton of positive reviews, they are likely to include it highly in the local rankings for the keywords that are mentioned on your site, or in your local listings’ titles, descriptions, or additional text. How to go about getting positive reviews can range from business to business. While search engines say that you are generally not supposed to solicit positive reviews, odds are that some of your competitors are doing just that. If you are a restaurant, you may offer a discount, or free drink/appetizer/desert for anyone that comes in with their positive review printed. If you have a retail store or offer a service, you may offer a coupon, credit or discount. It is important that your reviews come from real people and are consistent across your listings sites.

We wish you luck with your local search, and as always, if you have questions or need help, we are here for you. You can get more information on local  search at