Google to demote SEO-heavy sites

Search system will be tweaked to favour sites with good content - not only good SEO

Nicole Kobie
19 Mar 2012

Google is tweaking its search engine to stop favouring sites that go overboard on SEO.

Google's head of search Matt Cutts, speaking at the end of SXSW, said the change was designed to drive more traffic to sites with good content, rather than those with the best search engine optimisation (SEO).

"The idea is basically to try to level the playing ground," he told the conference, according to a report from Search Engine Land. "So all those people who have been doing, for lack of a better word, over optimisation or overly doing their SEO – compared to the people who are just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site, we are trying to level the playing field a bit."

The idea is basically to try to level the playing ground a little bit

"We try to make the GoogleBot smarter, try to make our relevance more adaptive, so that if people don’t do SEO we handle that," he added.

"And we are also looking at the people who abuse it, who put too many keywords on a page, exchange way too many links, or whatever else they are doing to go beyond what you normally expect."

Cutts said the plan had been in the works for months, and was likely to be released in the "coming weeks".

The SEO switch isn't the only change with Google's search. The firm announced last week that it will start including more answers in results, rather than only links to pages, and introduce semantic understanding to the system.

Last year, it rolled out the infamous Panda update, pushing sites with lower quality, spam sites further down the rankings.

Read more about: