Google’s “New” Over Optimization Penalty May Not Be So New

Google’s So-Called “New” Over-Optimization Penalty Google has been in the news recently for an announcement made by the webspam team regarding a new algorithm update that they say will include penalties for over-optimization. This does not seem like new news to me. Sure, maybe they are adding some new tricks to their arsenal, but from what I have seen, Google has been penalizing sites for over-optimization for some time. A few obvious examples include the recent very public penalties applied to JC Penny and for link manipulation. In both cases their sites were devalued for a few weeks to a few months then returned fairly strong not long after.

The more serious questions in my mind will be, Is Google opening themselves up to negative optimization tactics if they take this too far? and how will they differentiate between someone who is over-optimizing their own site, and someone who is a competitor trying to get someone else’s site penalized? It seems to me that when it comes to over-optimization it would be very easy to do on someone else’s site. There are a lot of blog directories and article directories where one can post links to a site in a very spammy way for very little money. How is it that Google thinks they can determine what is being done by the site owner versus what is being done by a rogue competitor?

Sure, maybe if you mix in some on page factors such as high of keyword densities or linking off of your site to bad networks, but those are obvious and should have been penalized all along. So what is it Google, are you really changing things as significantly as you are implying or are you simply trying to put some fear into website owner and try to scare people off of SEO? I am starting to wonder if their announcement was more intended to do the latter.

Be Aware of Fake Top SEO Lists

As someone who works in the SEO profession, I find that It is very important to keep up on the latest happenings in the search engine optimization industry. As such, I generally begin each day by doing a review of any articles about SEO, Search Engine Optimization or Search Engine Marketing in the news, as well as browsing a few popular forums for interesting tidbits.

I recently noticed a large number of press releases coming in via my Google Alerts making me aware that this company or that company had been named the #3 or #4 on the topseo list by and it was published in the International Business Times. Since I had never heard of the topseos or the International Business Times I looked them up and signed up for I have to say, it seemed like a good, free link and listing for my site. It is relevant and on topic.

Shortly after I signed up however, I became aware of the scam that they were pulling. I received an email from mentioning that my company had been pre qualified for their list of Top SEOs even though they knew little to nothing about us. If I were to pay $5,000 I could be listed as the #1 site  on their list. For $3,000 my site could be #2, and for a measly $2,000 we could be listed #3 or below .

It did not specify any other requirements. What a bunch of baloney! This list of so called Top SEOs has nothing to do with how good of a job a company does at SEO for their clients. The rankings simply came down to how much you were willing to pay. What is more of a concern is that they make it look legit by attaching it to a newspaper that also is probably a sham.

Take my advice, if you are looking for an SEO company, don’t base your decision off any list unless it is from a relevant source that you know to be legit. You are better off asking for references from existing clients, looking up the firm in the BBB and asking questions related to the SEO of your site. If all of the above meet your requirements then you are probably in good hands. If someone is merely paying $5,000 to be included in a list, I am not so sure that is the case.

What does it take to build an effective SEO team

I recently spoke to a former employee who has been working for quite a few years for Kaplan International Colleges, which offers a series of schools throughout the English speaking world that focus on teaching English, and English courses. He mentioned in amazement that they now employ in the range of 30 people that work on SEO for their site, and that he was basically blown away by how important SEO had become and how many of their leads come in directly via their website, primarily due to the SEO.

Kaplan is a great example of a company that has done SEO right. They employ managers for each language or country that they target, their site has a ton of great content, and they have the site properly translated with SEO elements included for each target language or country. The site is full of unique content and actually has nearly 7,000 pages indexed in Google many of which rank very well for competitive terms.

This leads me to ask the question: Is it better to create an internal team to do your SEO, or does it make more sense to hire a consultant or company to do it for you? Obviously the answer varies from company to company. The following are a few thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

A few advantages to creating an internal SEO team include the following:

-The SEO team is 100% dedicated to your site and you have access to what they are doing at all times, and know they are working on your site at all times.
-The SEO team and other teams such as marketing or web development are in close proximity and can easily communicate.
-Over time, the SEO team should become experts marketing your specific industry.
-If you hire the right people, or provide proper training they can be as knowledgeable as a consultant.

A few disadvantages of hiring an internal SEO team would include the following:

-Hiring employees with specific SEO knowledge can be expensive.
-Your SEO team may require multiple employees each with full time salaries.
-If you hire someone without specific SEO knowledge, there will be a learning curve and you may put your site at risk.
-Multiple full time salaries can be very expensive.

Building an internal SEO team is not easy. It requires putting together the right type and combination of people. You will need people who are sales and marketing focused, technology focused, customer focused and analytically focused for different tasks of the SEO puzzle.  Depending on the budget, you may need to find a single individual that can wear each of these hats.

In the case of my friend’s company, it seems to have worked out very well, but they have been at it for some time, and who knows what kind of growing pains the company may have gone through while learning to do it right. Maybe there were few, but they also may have wasted tens of thousands of dollars in the process of learning to do it right before it actually worked out.

The other option is to hire an SEO consultant or an SEO company. I pretty much consider them one in the same. In general, you are going to save money outsourcing your SEO work, and the odds are, at least in the short term, they are going to be more knowledgeable than creating an internal team, but a big question remains, are you going to get the same level of dedication from them as you would from an internal team. In many cases the answer is likely “no”. There is also a chance you strike out on your hiring and end up with someone that does poor work or uses out of date or black hat techniques.

Ultimately, there is risk either way, but I feel that small to midsized companies are often better off going the consultant route. This way, they can set the budget at a rate that is affordable for them, and if something is not working they can easily go in a different direction. Larger companies, especially those where web leads are a major component of their marketing might be better either hiring a specific SEO team or SEO manager, or implementing the job into an existing employees responsibility and giving them proper training so they can properly handle the task.