Google Is about to Slap Down Some Websites

The word is out that Google plans to penalize websites that are over-optimized. Website owners and those who sell search engine optimization services are abuzz with speculation as to what's actually going to happen.

As usual, Google is vague in explaining what's coming. In fact, Google is usually vague about what it's done even after it happens.

Will your site be affected by the changes?

Probably not, unless you've engaged in spammy tactics to push the site up in the rankings. Doing things like buying links on link-building sites is likely to hurt you. So is paying a search engine optimization firm to spray your links across hundreds of fake blogs, social media accounts, and directories. These tactics have worked for a while and, if all goes as planned, these sites will likely drop in rank when the change kicks in.

It's pretty easy to spot the sites likely to get shot down. You do a search on a keyword phrase and a site comes up near the top of the rankings. You click on the site, and the content stinks. Realistically, a useless site only makes it to the top of the rankings because it's been working the system. It isn't ranking well because it's helpful to the searcher. That's what Google is attempting to correct.

Should you change course? Should you take corrective action?

You should be fine if you've built a site based on excellent content and the links back to your site are natural and from sites that logically ought to link to your site. If, however, you've been doing sneaky black-hat link building by paying a service to help you, then you should expect to get slapped—soon. Is there a way to fix it now, before the algorithm change is implemented? No one knows, and Google isn't telling. Sorry.

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