Recently, a debate has emerged regarding Google’s potential forthcoming decision to place greater restrictions on its algorithm for websites that utilize less-compelling content coupled with so-called “over-optimization.” While the details aren’t exactly clear as of yet, at this year’s SXSW Conference in Austin, Google’s Webspam Team manager Matt Cutts made mention of “something that they’ve been working on in the last few months” that will make the search playing field “a little bit more level.” And even though multiple sources have taken this brief mention of change as something that won’t solve a much greater problem, or are criticizing Google for trying to level a playing field that inherently cannot be so, a single point remains—impactful and meaningful content has increased value for a website over SEO alone.
The benefits of SEO for businesses and digital marketing teams have often been proven in the past. While the importance of SEO is beyond question, the real value of a website for searching users lies in the content they find once they arrive there. And while it’s one thing to fault Google for fighting a losing battle or “jumping the shark,” as many bloggers have touted, Google’s intention was made clear in that same conference—certain SEO techniques or “tricks” that can increase a site’s traffic in lieu of engaging, relevant content should not have a strangle hold over their (or any) search index. As it stands, whatever Google is working on, there is simply not enough information available yet to make any sweeping claims about their next update or improvement.
For any web developer or digital marketing team, a page’s content in relation to its search engine ranking is a powerful combination in terms of visibility and reach. These factors also provide a basic, yet effective foundation for additional, future internet marketing campaigns. Rather than bashing Google for over-regulating the over-optimizers and creating an unjustified fear of SEO, businesses should allocate time and resources toward the creation of content that is accessible, impactful, and informative in addition to approved, “white hat” optimization efforts. Many are anticipating further clarification on this issue when Cutts speaks again at the Search Marketing Expo Advanced in Seattle this June. Then we’ll see whether all the hype was warranted and who really “jumped the shark” on this issue.