Pages too good to be true
A seemingly routine Q&A session at the recent SXSW Conference has touched off a debate about the future of search engine optimization. Recounted in Search Engine Land, a session participant asked Google's Matt Cutts how a small business could complete against a competitor with similar content but a bigger SEO budget. Cutts responded with the news that Google is in the late stages of an algorithm change that will 'level the playing field' by penalizing over-optimized sites.
While some blogs began discussing the 'death of SEO', others realized that this was only one step in the search process that increasingly values good content and that, yes, having a well structured page makes good content a bit easier to find. Lisa Barone wrote in Outspoken Media about the importance of writing for the user and not the search robot while Vanessa Fox posted about the dangers of algorithm chasing as a way to get found. Practical Ecommerce looked at the possible warning signs of over-optimization and listed 5 tactics that might create a red flag.
Meanwhile the WSJ published a an article about another upgrade that will boost Google's semantic capabilities. Google will make a greater effort to understand the natural language intent of the search and they will also provide more answers directly on the search results page (as they do already when the search is for something factual like Abraham Lincoln's birthday). The SEO Skeptic took an academic look at Google's semantic plans and Marketing Words took the direct approach with advice for writing easily understood semantic copy.