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Google’s Over Optimization Penalty

During the 2012 SXSW, Google announced an upcoming update to level the playing field of “overly optimized” website versus website with great content.  We do not know if there is an official name for this update of “Over Optimization Penalties”, so for lack of better acronym I will refer to it as the “OOPs” update in this article.  Ben Cook also dubbed this the OOPs update (http://directmatchmedia.com/googles-trust-us-penalty.php)

You can find the full transcript from Rob Snell here (http://www.robsnell.com/dear-bing-and-google-help-me-rank-better-2012-sxsw-transcript-matt-cutts-danny-sullivan.html).  Many speculations feared that the “OOPs” update is the beginning of the end for SEO, but looking more carefully at the transcript, we can pick up signals that this is just another update that helps the White Hat SEO guys and give the smaller business a better chance.

We do not know exactly what this “OOPs” update actually includes, but here are the items mentioned by Matt Cutts during the SXSW:

  • Exchanged way too many links
  • Too many keywords on page
  • Anything that goes beyond a normal expectation (spams)
  • He also re-emphasizes the importance of great content and great website design.

If we look at this list more carefully, it really isn’t any different than all the updates Google has been focused on in the recent years to improve search quality.  The ultimate goals of these updates have always been to improve user experience and ensure Black Hat SEO, Link Farms, Content Farms, and etc. do not rank better than sites with great content!

So where does SEO stands after the upcoming “OOPs” update? Matt clarified this on the later portion of the SXSW that Google does not hate SEO, and in fact values White Hat SEO because it help making the website more accessible, crawlable, and give you a better chance to succeed on the search engines.

What does all this mean to the hospitality industry?  It is too early to tell, but I speculate that after the update, we might see an even more balanced SERP between the luxury, historic, well-established, smaller chains, and independent hotels.  This does not mean the bigger hotels is getting penalized and the smaller hotels is getting benefited, it simply means that both will get equal chances of succeeding if they are both engaged in White Hat SEO tactics.

For more search updates and strategies to leverage such updates, “Leveraging the Latest Search Trends” is a great read.

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Contributed by  Chad Tsang, Sr. SEO Specialist

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