Here’s a new way to think about Google. Imagine it not as an almost endless bank of high powered servers blasting endlessly through tens of thousands of horribly complex algorithms, but instead, sitting back in a pair of chinos and a polo shirt, a warm mug of coffee and a plate of chocolate digestives by its side.

The Google of the future?

Google’s Matt Cutts was recently asked what Google is currently doing to try to avoid delivering search results which include sites saturated with highly optimised content. The problem is that many people feel that businesses with large SEO budgets have an unfair advantage over small businesses which are simply doing a damn fine job of delivering genuinely useful content to their readers, and don’t have the time, expertise or budget to be able to massively optimise everything they do.

Matt Cutts’ response surprised quite a lot of people. He stated quite plainly that websites would now be penalised if in their search optimisation and search engine marketing they go beyond what a ‘normal’ person might be expected to do.

What he isn’t saying here of course is that optimisation is dead. What he is saying though, and quite rightly, is that over optimisation is no longer appropriate. Gone are the black hats of rogue optimisation, but the time has come to have a second look at some of those old white hats, because a few have now gathered enough dust to make them more than a little grey.

Is it time to reassess those white hat strategies?

There are three things to consider here. Firstly, Google is now getting astonishingly clever with its semantic searching and indexing, able to analyse web content in a way that is extremely close to how real people read and analyse pages. This means that optimising for bots is more easily identifiable, and likely to result in penalties being enforced.

Secondly, with Apple’s Siri companion available on the iPhone, and with Google Assistant shortly to be released on Android devices, we are gradually moving into an age of search where we are expecting to be able to interact and communicate with computers in a more intuitive and natural way. That word ‘communicate’ is probably important – imagine that you aren’t going to be ‘using’ Google in the future, but ‘communicating’ with it.

Thirdly, Google has been very aware for years that every time they implement a new change to their algorithms, SEO experts will immediately begin analysing data to establish what has changed, and how strategies need to be adapted. This has inevitably resulted in the over optimisation of content, and this can mean that poorer quality content can be pushed to the top of the results, drowning content which may actually be fantastic, but is not brilliantly optimised. This latest move from Google looks set to introduce a new period in which search doesn’t just become personalised, it’s almost becoming a person.

Do you think it is right that Google should now be penalising over optimisation? What do you understand over optimisation to be? Do you see a time when we will be communicating with Google rather than simply using it as a tool, and do you think this is the right direction for search? Please leave your comments in the box below or share this post using the buttons above.

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