Image courtesy of Flickr user SE Images

The Internet has been buzzing with word that Google might be releasing revised algorithms that will make it much harder for websites that are deemed “over-optimized” to reach the top of search engine rankings. Some see this as “punishing” those sites, but Google officials say they are simply rewarding sites with good content.

So what is Google up to? 

We’ve all been there. We want to know where the best sushi is in town, so we do a quick search and find ourselves filtering through sites for a lot longer than it should take to find a good sushi spot. Each site is nothing more than a virtual broken record—“Sushi, sushi, sushi, sushi, sushi…” One might easily ask-how is it helpful that the site just keeps finding ways to use the word sushi and doesn’t tell anything about the sushi?

This is precisely what Google’s purpose. During the recent SXSW (South by Southwest, a major conference for film, music and media), one of Google’s software engineers, Matt Cutts, discussed focusing on SEO that is very mindful of the target audience and content being searched. The new algorithm will focus on “semantic search,” which means it will optimize sites that use keywords correctly and in context with good content. The new algorithm will give less attention to sites that obviously just use keywords and tags to grab search attention without giving the website user valuable information.

“Make a compelling site. Make a site that’s useful. Make a site that’s interesting. Make a site that’s relevant to people’s interests,” said Cutts during the discussion panel, Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better!

In layman’s terms, give the people what they want. People search with a purpose. An itch is present and search results need to be the backscratcher.

Chris Crum of says it quite clearly when he writes, “Google is sending out the signal that you should worry less about the current SEO trends, and more about producing great content.”

Human factor 

Long gone are the days when the top search results went to sites with the most repetition of keywords; Google is trying to give the prize to those who create the most buzz.  Back in January, The Belford Group wrote a blog that predicted content would become a central component in SEO this year.   That is already becoming very, very true. How humans search for websites and how they treat the information they find in searches will greatly influence future search engine results

Content that is created shouldn’t just answer a question, it should spark interest. If a searcher stumbles on a site that exceeds what they’re looking for, they’ll pass it along.  The more a site is shared, the more the site will be deemed more credible under Google’s new algorithms.  A small business can essentially outrank big-names if its content becomes more engaging.

So does that mean that traditional SEO is a thing of the past? Not exactly. Keywords, descriptions and link building will still be an important part of an overall SEO strategy.

“SEO can often be very helpful. It can make a site more ‘crawlable’; it can make a site more accessible; it can think about the words users are going to type whenever they come to a search engine to make sure those words are on a page,” Cutts clarified. In other words, there can’t be a website about sushi without using the word sushi. But saturating the page with nothing but sushi won’t help the website (or the reader).

Corey Eridon of HubSpot wrote, “If your content is driven by topics, you shouldn’t expect to be penalized when the new algorithm update rolls out, even if you do take the time to search engine optimize that content with keywords and relevant links.”

Need Help? 

The Belford Group is an experienced image-building marketing and website development agency, with more than a decade spent providing creative marketing and advertising solutions to fit any budget and any medium. We work closely with clients to provide excellent content on websites that are easily found by search engines.

We’d love to learn more about what you do, and find ways to help you do more of it. Call us at 479-443-9945 to schedule a free consultation.