Finding a balance between quality content and optimization has always been a challenge to those in the SEO industry. Most of us at some point have been guilty of over-optimizing sites; either due to lack of knowledge of best practices, or as a deliberate rank sculpting technique. As a follow-up to my post on Monday regarding upcoming penalties from Google for sites that are "overly-optimized" (Newest Panda Attacks Onsite Optimization), I came across this post on SEO by the Sea in which Bill Slawski goes into more detail regarding the anticipated rollout of the Google algorithm. I have posted a portion of his post here for your convenience.
Regarding Matt Cutts statement that Google may come up with an "over-optimization" penalty in the future to help sites that aren’t showing up as highly in search results because of other sites that might have excessive links pointed to them or contain specific keywords more often, you can get the sense that this is something Google has been aiming at for years by looking at many of the patent filings and whitepapers from the company.
An aim of good SEO is to improve the quality, relevance, and usability of pages for visitors, so that the objectives of the owners of those pages are furthered, and people actually looking for what is offered on those pages are more likely to find those pages. Optimization, as a term, means to make something the best that you can, and in SEO usually aims at making a page the best that one can in terms of satisfying people using a query term that the page is about, to meet their informational or situational or transactional needs.
Some people promoting web pages attempt to use tactics like over stuffing a page with a particular keyword or pointing as many links to it as possible that use that keyword in anchor text, without necessarily attempting to make that particular page one that will satisfy visitor’s needs.
So a penalty like this might do things like ignore the value of anchor text in blog comments or forum signatures pointing to pages, lessen the value of links between sites that are related in some manner, lessen the value of keywords or related terms that appear on the same page at a very high rate, or apply some other similar approaches.
That doesn’t mean that the value of thoughtfully created, high quality pages, following best SEO practices will be harmed. The goals of that type of SEO align with the goals of search engines in helping people find pages that help meet their needs.
I anticipate a lot of upcoming discussion on this algorithm change if/when it is implemented. In much the same way that the original Panda received a lot of cooler talk, this latest rollout is going to cause many waves in many pools.