Is Google’s Over-Optimization penalty real?

One of the hot topics today in SEO is Over Optimization.  Matt Cutts announced a few months ago that sites that are over optimized are may have some problems.  He was (as is the Matt Cutts oracle’s tendency) vague and uncertain about what or how or when this over optimization penalty would be implemented.

Many SEOs believe this over optimization penalty kicked in around the same time as the Penguin update at the end of April.  Evidence?  Well, there’s this story from seomoz http://www.seomoz.org/blog/recovering-from-the-penguin-update-a-true-story which is great, but anecdotal.  Lots of other sites are talking about how to avoid it, keyword stuffing, etc..

I’ve seen a lot of stuff going on lately, but I haven’t been able to pin any of it specifically down to this over optimization.

What is over optimization?

There are lots of tips for minimizing this penalty, and I don’t want to go into those here.  The prevalent thought is that there are two areas that are a problem.  Overly aggressive anchor text on inbound links and keyword stuffing.

So, is there anything we can do that proves this theory?  I’m not sure.  It’s hard to draw conclusions without before and after evidence, and none of the e-Marketing Partner sites can successfully illustrate the change. If you have a good example and would like to share, please let me know.

For now all we can say is that we will keep an eye on our rankings and look at evidence of over optimization.

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