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A close look at what over optimization really is
brinked




msg:4442236
 1:51 am on Apr 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

I will not share my entire story about how I came into the SEO world, but lets just say that in order to have any type of success in this industry, I needed to overcome what turned out to be over optimization penalties.

Since then I have pretty much made a living at buying established sites that suffer from obvious on site over optimization, fixing them up and profiting big time. One site I paid $12,000 for and within 2 weeks it was recovered, making a good $400-$600/day. Thats what type of money people can be missing out on with a simple over optimization penalty.

But what exactly is over optimization? More importantly, what is Google's latest update all about? While I do not have the answer to everyone's questions, I have a lot of experience with over optimization and I think I might just be the most qualified person in the world when dealing with this type of penalty.

I know a lot of people feel vulnerable right now and that is why I am making this post. Looking over on the google help forums, many of the issues I am seeing have blatant over optimization problems on site. One lady had a site that offered free widgets for kids. How do I know this? When I went to her site, "free widgets for kids" was in the domain name, the page title, and every other sentence on the home page. I did not dig any deeper in her site and I am not saying this is the exact cause for her punishment, but I am pretty sure it is. If you read her content, it sounds spammy and unprofessional and I have no idea how this site managed to elude over optimization penalties earlier.

In any case, here is a list of over optimization factors. Some are tried and proven, others are semi proven and some others are just strong theories.


1. Keyword/phrase over usage. Known by seo experts as keyword stuffing. This is also the most commong form of over optimization and also the easiest to recover from. When you are trying to rank for a specific phrase, you want google to find that term. Many webmasters will do this by placing the same term in the page title, url's, meta tags, body text, anchor text, header tags etc etc. It is important NOT to do this. Google will know what the subject of your site is without having to repeat the same phrase over and over. That just gives a poor user experience. Not only that, google will know you're trying to game the system. You could possibly overcome this by strong content and a good backlink profile, but it will likely still hold you back in some way or another.

2. Redirects. I seen a major competitor just lose its number 1 position after holding it steady for 3 years. This site was not only number 1 for this industry, but its also one of the top 500 most popular websites in the USA. It is a huge huge brand and it has just dropped to position #7 after being #1 for 3 years. One thing I noticed about them is they redirect several domains to their main site and they have bought out competitors over the years and just redirected them to their main site. Be careful not to redirect too many sites to your main business, and if you do, make sure to follow recommended procedure as offered by google.

3. Same/similar anchor in back links. This is an oldy but a goody. The best backlink profile is a well rounded, diverse and natural looking profile that has links coming from many types of venues. If all of your links come from blogs, that looks pretty artificial, what are the odds that all of the sites linking to you all happen to be blogs? Top that off with if these blogs link to lots of other unrelated sites, it wont take google's algo too long to detect that. Aggressive reciprocal links can hurt you as well.

4. Same Niche same server - This one I truly believe in, or it could be me just being paranoid. I always believed that having 2 websites on the same server in the same or similar industries will cause 1 or both of them to be punished. For this reason, I leave no trail for google to connect any 2 of my sites together unless they are completely unrelated. I make sure to have different whois info, I never use GA, adsense or any other means for google to connect two similar sites. I have no concrete proof of this one, but its something I feel strongly about.

5. Doorway/thin affiliate - Is the main goal of your site to get people to another site? Then google may just decide to drop your site and favor the source site since that would provide a better user experience. Counter this by offering something truly unique.

6. Link schemes/cheap backlink packages - Quite simply, dont waste your time. This does more harm than good and even if you do get a good ranking fast, it will fade soon enough. Any back link package is truly ridiculous and you are playing with fire. If you see any package that is offering you more than 100 links for less than $10, you should stay far far away. it also goes unmentioned you should stay away from ANY back link building schemes that include gaining mass amounts of backlinks in a short period of time. Links are votes and should be earned.

This list was rushed and not proof read so take it as it is. I hope this insight can help some people. These are just the 6 most common factors that I see webmasters suffering from. Best of luck.

 

Planet13




msg:4443172
 9:47 pm on Apr 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Is there any particular Panda update or other algo update that you can say was geared predominately at over optimization?

My site had flourished since the first Panda was released in Feb of 2011. Traffic was up 100% by Feb of 2012.

But it crashed on March 23rd.

So I wonder if this March 23rd Panda update might have been specifically focused on one area or another.

~~~~~~~

Also, I have a directory on my site that lists a certain kind of institution my state (and city). So there are lots of category pages that are like:

New York Widget Institutions
Rhode Island Widget Institutions
Boston Widget Institutions
etc.,

those would seem like they would be fodder for an OOP, yet that is probably the only way to make it practical for the end user 9since they don't want one page with listings for institutions that are in another state).

gouri




msg:4443203
 12:33 am on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

@maddawg,

Thanks for mentioning when you started to see changes in rankings after making the changes. That is something that I was thinking about.

If your page is short on content, but uses the keyword in abundance I would definitely take my advice.


I do feel that my content can be expanded and will take your suggestion.

@brinked,

Adding more content to dilute the over usage of your terms. You can also remove some of the keyword instances from your existing text and other places of the page. A lot of people are hesitant to do this because they feel "oh no if I remove my prize term from my page I will lose rankings". That is not the case at all. I have had a saying for the last 3-4 years now and its "De-optimization is the new optimization" and that is starting to hold true more so today than ever before.


I think that a lot of people would probably hesitate to remove mentions of their keywords/phrases from a page when adding content. I have thought that way sometimes.

I will focus on adding content that is related to the theme of the page.

Whitey




msg:4443259
 4:40 am on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

What's the view on excessive internal linking to a seperate landing page for every term imaginable - i mean what's excessive and what's not ?

My thinking is that the content has got to justify the link with good content. Thoughts - experiences?

suggy




msg:4443269
 6:06 am on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

How on earth do you tell whether you have an OOP or you're just ranking in your rightful place? I mean, I've gone a bit soft in rankings, dropped 5-10 places since Panda started, but is that to do with OOP or is that just revised ranking? How do you tell?

Basically, how do you tell if your problem is you are doing too much and not enough?!

fathom




msg:4443360
 12:38 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

How on earth do you tell whether you have an OOP or you're just ranking in your rightful place?


Experience!

It's no different than me asking you "how do you walk?"

You just do you don't put much thought into how.

Not to drive into a side topic but it is related...

I didn't understand that until I had a heart attack was apparently brain dead, they pulled the plug and I wouldn't let go... and 2 months later I woke up.

I couldn't walk, feed myself, drink a cup of coffee, wipe my *** I had to painstakingly learn it all over again... and now while I had to do that all as a grow adult I couldn't even begin to explain now I learned it all again...I just did.

fom2001uk




msg:4443367
 12:51 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Rather than simply delete most of your exact match anchor text links, I'd suggest changing them to URL links or brand links.

maddawg




msg:4443411
 2:20 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Suggy, A clear OOP is where you fall back from top 5 or page 1 rankings to page 3 or lower for basically all of your keywords.

It's still possible what you're describing is over-optimization(though I wouldn't call it a penalty), and you can tell if that's the case when your site never moves up even when you get high quality links with keyword-rich anchor text. Or if you get links and it moves up a few spots and always falls back to the original position quickly (3 or 4 days).

Keep in mind this test may not be applicable anymore with Google's recent changes to how it views anchor text, but that's how I used to know one of my sites was over-optimized in the past.

deadsea




msg:4443425
 3:04 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

What are your thoughts about the over-optimization signals that Rand Fishkin suggested in his whiteboard friday today?

  1. Keyword stuffing in titles (gives an example with three similar phrases each repeating the same word)
  2. Exact match anchor text on all internal links.
  3. Blocks or links of internal links, especially in the footer and colored to be non-obtrusive.
  4. Text content on pages written only to introduce keywords
  5. Bad backlink profile
  6. Multiple similar pages targeting synonyms (user cars seattle, used autos seattle, preowned cars seattle)


In my opinion:

#1 Keyword stuffing titles hasn't been effective for years, maybe google will start penalizing for it, but I haven't seen a benefit from it for long enough that I don't see many people doing it now.

#2 Was an issue for a local site that I was working on a few years ago. People searched for "<city> <service>" eg (seattle widgets) but on the website when you were in the context of the city it made no sense for users to use the city in the link anchor text. Some of the SEO advice we got was that exact match anchor text was so important on internal links that you should be putting the city name in every link. Very repetitious and spammy looking. Google could get some mileage out of penalizing sites that hurt users like this for seo gain.

#3 Blocks of links seem to be a necessity on large sites to get the entire site crawled. I know that users don't use them much, but I think they help googlebot crawl the site enough that Google can't live without them. I was told by Yahoo many years ago that they saw any list of links with more than 10 elements as spammy. I would hope that Google would try to look at whether blocks are site wide, what the colors are, how prominent the links are and such to make a determination rather than just penalize for this across the board. I also suspect that Google already started penalizing for large lists of links (or at least discounting their effectiveness) in 2008.

#4 I'm not sure how Google would write an algorithm to detect that a particular block of text isn't written for users. They may penalize too much keyword repetition in the body. They certainly already user user satisfaction metrics to try to determine that a site isn't pleasing search visitors.

#5 Bad backlink profiles already have so many penalities on them, I'm not sure how much more Google would be able to do in this area.

#6 Multiple similar pages seemed to be a signal in Panda already. Maybe Google will start rolling out specific penalties for this. The fact that they are penalizing for this is one of my pet peeves. If you ask me, one page per keyword was a great way of telling Google what you wanted to rank for. Users got a very customized landing page with exactly what they were looking for. On your site it didn't hurt useability if you did it right: users wouldn't even know you had multiple pages targeting similar things. The only drawback to it was that the SERPs were getting very similar with many of the top results having titles that completely matched the search.

Leosghost




msg:4443435
 3:22 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

What a "coinkydink" ..Rand writes about over-optimization..two days after Brinked does so here ..saying a lot of the same things that Brinked does and others have in this thread..

Along with a few "blindingly obvious" points we all knew about, and some equally "blindingly obvious " points we all discounted along time ago..second time ( first was just after Panda 1 rolled ) that I've seen what this place says, and discusses, "re-mashed" ( being polite here ) and presented as "insights" by RF..

I noticed the lack of link to, or mention of, this thread, or this site, or acknowledgement of Brinked's excellent opening post..

I'd rather read Brinked, and others ..here ..at the source..

SnowMan68




msg:4443448
 4:10 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

1. Keyword/phrase over usage. Known by seo experts as keyword stuffing. This is also the most commong form of over optimization and also the easiest to recover from. When you are trying to rank for a specific phrase, you want google to find that term. Many webmasters will do this by placing the same term in the page title, url's, meta tags, body text, anchor text, header tags etc etc. It is important NOT to do this. Google will know what the subject of your site is without having to repeat the same phrase over and over. .


What about Keyword Title Stuffing. I just watched the Whiteboard friday over at SeoMoz and Rand was talking about people who write titles like the one below being bad.

Big Widget, Green Tall Widgets, Stylish Widgets For Sale

Instead he recommends something like this

Stylish Big & Tall Green Widgets For Sale at Brand Name

I can see why this needs to be changed, it is definitely over doing it and doesn't flow naturally. He said to make sure to change all of your titles that look like #1 to look more like #2 before the over op penalty goes through. My big concern, because I am guilty of 95% of the #1 option, what happens when I change so many titles at once? We're talking 90-100 categories all being changed at once. Is it going to do more harm than good? They will be essentially using the same keywords, just in a more natural flow.

brinked




msg:4443487
 5:21 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I never imagined this thread would get so much exposure. My inbox is flooded with job offers, somehow people are finding my email address and contacting me directly or even through my website contact forms.

I am flattered, thank you guys.

I want to point out something very important, and its very important that everyone read this who has an ecommerce type site.

All the people who have contacted me have an ecommerce site that was hit. The funny thing is, they all look the same. And to be brutally honest, if I went to your store, I would probably not buy from you. Forget about SEO and google penalties. You're penalizing yourself by making your site hard to navigate and find the product that I want. Maybe..just maybe google is seeing this exact same thing?

If I am going to your ecommerce site I probably already know what I want to buy, I dont need you to tell me how great your site is 100 times. I don't need to know on the homepage of your site every single product that you sell and how long you have been selling them for.

I am sorry, but I am there to find a product and buy it, if I for 1 second think your website comes off as unprofessional, I am out of there, unless your site is the only company online that is carrying a specific product that I need.

Google knows what you are selling, Your customers know what you are selling. Make it easy for them to find and buy what they are looking for.

Every single person who has contacted me has an ecommerce store with a paragraph or two below the fold explaining how great they are. You're an ecommerce store, you're content is your products. Make your products stand out from your competitors. Give more information about these products than your competition does.

Does your site do well for a few particular products? Do you happen to get a lot of people on your store looking to buy a blue snow glow widget? Fancy that blue snow glow widget page up, offer in depth analysis, feature it on your homepage and other areas and cash in on improved conversions.

indyank




msg:4443493
 5:34 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think that a lot of people would probably hesitate to remove mentions of their keywords/phrases from a page when adding content. I have thought that way sometimes.


gouri, you are addressing keyword density and not keyword stuffing by adding more text. I don't think keyword density has again become a factor now. For eg., some people try to start each sentence with the keyword they target. That is keyword stuffing.

Though I appreciate this post and brinked's suggestions, over optimization penalty in general is a myth...off-course one need to avoid keyword stuffing and anchor text targeting...

Simsi




msg:4443509
 5:51 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the insightful post Brinked.

I'd just like to add an observation re #4 (same server/whois). I used to believe that too but around 10 months ago I had a site that received an oop. I changed several things and one was to move it to a dedicated server which hosts 2 or 3 other sites I run (same whois). They also inter-link but only on very relevant pages.

It's since recovered and is doing fairly well which leads me to believe that there isn't any x-site impact on an oop at the moment. That's not to say there won't be in the future though.

brinked




msg:4443512
 6:01 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'd just like to add an observation re #4. I used to believe that too but around 10 months ago I had a site that received an oop. I changed several things and one was to move it to a dedicated server which hosts 2 or 3 other sites I run (same whois).

It's since recovered and is doing fairly well which leads me to believe that there isn't any x-site impact on an oop at the moment. That's not to say there won't be in the future though.


You can certainly get away with having 2 similar sites on the same server..so long as they are 2 completely different sites and offer something different.

What I have experienced, if you are running 2 sites that are using the same script and have the same/similar content, one of those sites will likely never see the light of day in google. You are more likely to get away with this if they are running on separate servers.

Keep in mind as well, I have not explored this in over 3 years as I keep any similar sites completely separated from each other.

I like to think AHEAD of google and anything that can be a factor will be a factor if it isn't already.

SnowMan68




msg:4443524
 6:43 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ brinked

What were your thoughts on the title tags I mentioned? Thanks for your help!

Leosghost




msg:4443526
 6:46 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

<slightly OT> apologies to Brinked :)..not "hi-jacking" here ..
To reinforce brinked's point re sites on same server ( same IP ) this happened to me in the last 7 days..

For around 8 years I have had a small number ( of the many sites I now run ) on a shared account,( each relatively undeveloped, but each featuring very well in serps for their own various keywords..and always at #1 for their own names )..these are all EMD or distinctive , short, memorable names..<= I like these sort of names :)

So much for the background..

Last weekend ..all of them vanished..

For all keywords, and each was also "gone" for their own names..the only mention of them was in the various "whois" sites ..

De-indexed..( and I hadn't touched any of them in at least a year ) ..punished ..shunned by Google..

So I checked the IP..

( remember it was a shared account..one of many such places and shared Ips, where I "park" domains before putting them on their own server or own IP when I get around to fleshing them out or promoting them..so most of the other domains on these IPs are not mine )

All the other sites on the same IP were also gone..de-indexed..only trace or mention of them was in the various "whois" ..

So the IP was de-indexed...over 200 sites ..gone..

The last time I had checked my rankings was the previous day..only takes me 5 minutes, and I do it daily ..so I caught this..G had crawled them the previous day..

I moved all mine to their own IP..they were "re housed" within 12 hours of the de-indexing of their old IP..

G crawled again ( with them on the new IP ) 3 hours later..and 1 hour later ..they were all back..previous rankings all in place..:)

I have checked the other sites on the old IP, they are still gone, someone in the bunch has done something that caused Google to remove all of us, I've spoken with the host company ( one of the most well known and reputable ), they were unaware of this having happened,( although they had heard of the phenomena, but never seen it ) but they checked, and confirmed my findings..

The others on the old IP are de-indexed..

I haven't seen G do this in a long time, and it may be a "bug"..but it is a bug that is still affecting the other sites on that old IP 5 days on..and they do not all have the same owner..

Nor are they at all similar in their subjects or contents or targets..but they were all found "guilty by association" of being on the same IP ..

It might never happen to you..but...

I now have all my sites ( those which are not actually parked with commercial parking ) , whatever stage of development they are in, on IPs that only I use..and they are all well spread out across various hosters servers and countries..buying dedicated IPs is cheap , fast and easy, I spent a day and a few hundred dollars ..worth the trouble, should have tied up these "loose ends" before..but got distracted and forgot to get around to some of them..

Once bitten..even lightly and briefly..lesson learned..
</slightly OT>

brinked




msg:4443538
 7:52 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

What about Keyword Title Stuffing. I just watched the Whiteboard friday over at SeoMoz and Rand was talking about people who write titles like the one below being bad.

Big Widget, Green Tall Widgets, Stylish Widgets For Sale

Instead he recommends something like this

Stylish Big & Tall Green Widgets For Sale at Brand Name

I can see why this needs to be changed, it is definitely over doing it and doesn't flow naturally. He said to make sure to change all of your titles that look like #1 to look more like #2 before the over op penalty goes through. My big concern, because I am guilty of 95% of the #1 option, what happens when I change so many titles at once? We're talking 90-100 categories all being changed at once. Is it going to do more harm than good? They will be essentially using the same keywords, just in a more natural flow.


Snowman68, Page titles are the first thing to get abused. The page title is one of the most important on site seo factors. It tells our audience and search engines what exactly our website is about. This is exactly why there is no need to keep repeating the same phrases over and over in the body. Your website can be about green widgets, put that in your title tag and you don't need to have a single mention of green widgets on the page itself.

If you visit an image gallery, the front page is full of images. The page title says what kind of image gallery it is. You do not need to put in text in the body that this website is an image gallery, that is already understood and assumed.

As for keyword stuffing in the page title I have heard mixed reviews. My personal opinion is that a page title like this: Big Widget, Green Tall Widgets, Stylish Widgets For Sale

Is something to avoid. Instead, I would put something like this: Buy Big, Green Tall and Stylish widgets.

This way you are not repeating the word widgets over and over and you are giving a more readable description. You now also have more room to place descriptive text. Remember your page title and meta descriptions tags are your sales pitch. That is what the users are seeing when they see your result in the SERPs.

Instead of listing every type of widget you sell in the home page title. Why not have a page dedicated to each widget with an in depth analysis of those types of widgets along with images, videos, graphs etc?

I see too many times people trying to get their homepage to rank for all of their terms and that is just not the way to go. Focus on your inner pages, and when you get the traffic to them, there is less clicking involved fro your user which provides for a better experience. We already see google substituting inner pages instead of homepages, so clearly they want webmasters to go this route as well.

As for changing a lot of page titles at once, I would try to do it in sections. Maybe do the homepage first and wait a few weeks. You might experience a slight ranking drop at first and thats normal when changing your page title.

brinked




msg:4443539
 7:54 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

@leosghost,

you are not hijacking at all. That is exactly what this forum is for. I started this thread, it is not my thread. I am only one voice. I don't have all the answers. It is important to hear different voices on a given subject so people can decide what they relate to more.

I wish more people on here would share their experiences as well.

SnowMan68




msg:4443559
 9:15 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ brinked

Thanks for the reply. It does make a lot of sense to change the flow of the title. I was just worried about doing it all at once. I'll do it a little bit at a time and see how it goes.

We don't do the listing everything on the homepage that we sell. Just our best sellers and things we are trying to promote. Otherwise we focus on building good inner landing pages. In fact our homepage isn't even our most visited page. One of the first things I learned is that people hate to click around trying to find what they want. So we make sure it's easy to find, especially if you are coming off the search engine.

fathom




msg:4443586
 10:35 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't need to know on the homepage of your site every single product that you sell


There it is!

With supportive architecture you don't even need to do SEO.

An architecturally sound structure with depth and partial phrase matching as anchors you only need 1/8th the links to rank in the same positions.

Planet13




msg:4443604
 12:19 am on Apr 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Pardon the interruption...

What exactly does an Over Optimization Penalty look like to you guys?

Is it that ONLY ONE particular keyword won't rank?

Do both the head and long tail fail to rank well?

In short, how specifically focused is an OOP?

Thanks in advance. I thought it important to clarify to make sure we are all talking about the same thing.

Tonearm




msg:4443686
 9:50 am on Apr 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

How on earth do you tell whether you have an OOP or you're just ranking in your rightful place?

What exactly does an Over Optimization Penalty look like to you guys?

I'm struggling with the same questions. For competitive terms, my site's pages rank across the board from bad to truly stellar. My site has been online for longer than I've been a member here and, based on my stellar rankings, I seem to have earned a lot of trust from Google. On the other hand, many of my pages rank much lower for less competitive terms than other pages do for more competitive terms.

I have keywords in the URL, title, h1, and (sparse) on-page text, but not moreso for my low-ranking pages than for my high-ranking pages and it's not to the point of stuffing or spam. I have not spent a single moment on any kind of link building except for acquiring a DMOZ link many years ago.

One aspect of my site I've been suspicious about for a while is the way I display subcategories and products. Multiple subcategory display pages have up to 30 text links like "Green Widgets, Round Widgets, etc" and multiple product display pages have no anchor text but do have up to 30 text snippets like "Tall Green Widget, Short Round Widget, etc".

I'm not sure if I should remove all of the anchor text and text snippets and turn them into images, or if I should only remove the offending nouns such as "Widgets" and "Widget". A third option would be to remove the nouns and turn the remaining anchor text into regular text. Which way do you think I should go with this?

After I make the change, what should I expect from Google? Will there be a temporary drop in rankings, and if so, how far and for how long?

brinked




msg:4443781
 6:12 pm on Apr 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

How do you know you have an over optimization penalty? Most of the time for the average webmaster, you will never know. It is something I have great amount of experience with and can get a pretty good idea from looking at a website if it can be considered over optimized by google.

With that said, my suspicions are never truly confirmed until I de optimize and see a recovery.

Most websites are over optimized from the birth of it so you never really experience a ranking loss because that's the ranking it has had all along. You might just think that is where you should be ranking but sometimes there is something holding your site back (not always related to over optimization).

Just to give everyone an idea. I had a severely punished website, it was something I bought a few years ago for its rankings and it did well until the panda updates were rolled out. In any case, I had just given up and 301'd it to my main site. Just recently I removed the 301 and its just 1 single page with 1 sentence of text and a simple page title. A day later it was ranking high for its targeted keywords...2 of some of the toughest searches to rank for it ranks #12 with no content...That tells me that although its not ranking as high as it could be if google saw in its eyes "quality content" but there is no content, so there is nothing to really be penalized for.

My theory is that every site is being held back by something. Google's ranking factors work both ways and its important to have the positive factors outweigh the negative factors.

What does a over optimized site look like? There are different levels obviously...I am sure we have all seen some blatant over optimization with keyword stuffing, but other times it might not be so obvious.

I am sorry I dont have a sufficient answer for this, but nobody does except for google. Its all about experimenting and trial and error. If something is not working, scrap it and do something different, analyze high ranking competitors, see whats working for them, take some risks and change up your content a little bit, a lot of people are afraid to do this. I have never been hurt by changing my homepage content. Make it better, make it head and shoulders more informative and diverse than your competition. Offer some stats, survey results, a video, unique images only your website has, an argument comparing free widgets vs paid widgets, be creative, google looks at a lot of things, who knows what you might add that will make google fall in love with your content.

epmaniac




msg:4443796
 7:12 pm on Apr 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

@brinked

unique phrase in title cant find it even after it is indexed

if i cant a particular pages on google search which have very unique title after they get indexed any where in top 5 pages of google..... but find other pages from the same site instead but at a lower rank......

is it sign of a penalty by google?

crobb305




msg:4443811
 8:32 pm on Apr 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Most websites are over optimized from the birth


This is true. And for older sites that have never really tweaked their title, many backlinks over the years utilize the title as anchor. I am finding that over and over as I go through my backlinks, studying the phrases I have been penalized for. The phrases appear in my homepage title and as the anchor text many in bound links. Maybe tweaking the titles to reduce exact match will help?

Furthermore, one thing I am seeing is that other webmasters in my industry tried boosting their site quality by linking to other quality resources (we've all heard that linking to quality sites can help your ranking; and when done properly, it's true). Unfortunately, in some cases, these webmasters linked to sitewide in a blogroll or "Resources" section. This doesn't appear to be malicious in anyway. It just so happens now those links may appear unnatural. What I am talking about is completely different from the speculation of malicious negative SEO. Quality websites will deliberately link out to other quality websites, but sometimes they aren't done properly (based on our speculative view of "natural"). I see this most on the handful of competitive phrases that I have been penalized for. I am not penalized on longtails -- just certain one or two-word phrases. Now the unnatural links that I am responsible for, I have been able to contact some of the webmasters, but thousands of links I have no control over. I'm just worried that natural, unsolicited links that were done improperly (sitewie) could be hurting some of us.

brinked




msg:4443816
 8:43 pm on Apr 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

unique phrase in title cant find it even after it is indexed

if i cant a particular pages on google search which have very unique title after they get indexed any where in top 5 pages of google..... but find other pages from the same site instead but at a lower rank......

is it sign of a penalty by google?


No, this is no indication that your site is in any sort of penalty. This is especially common for newer sites. Google is actually getting away from ranking exact matching title tags. I am actually seeing good results by reversing the title tag. For example if you were targeting "free widgets", I am seeing sites that use "widgets free" rank higher for free widgets.

This is a small study that I really have not dug too much into, its just showing me that perhaps that google is looking more at the content than page title. Or perhaps they are just simply taking an additional step to stop ranking manipulations.

Tonearm




msg:4443975
 6:03 pm on Apr 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have a lot of anchor text on my pages that are most likely triggering over-optimization penalties. Would you:

1. move anchor text like "Round Widgets, Purple Widgets, etc" entirely into images

2. remove only "Widgets" and leave "Round" and "Purple" as anchor text

3. remove only "Widgets" but unlink "Round" and "Purple" leaving them as regular text

The content of these pages is almost entirely made up of these links which each consist of an image and anchor text. Could #1 reduce the volume of content in Google's eyes to the point that it creates a different ranking problem?

Should #1 and #3 be considered unnecessary deoptimization since they remove anchor text that isn't overused on the page?

brinked




msg:4444002
 8:03 pm on Apr 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Tonearm,

See my post earlier on this page. Here is what I wrote, I would also apply the same thing to your situation:

That sounds like a redundancy issue. What I like to do for a list of links such as this is put a header bar labeled "Widgets". This way, all items listed under that bar will be types of widgets, something every user will be able to understand.

This way you can remove the word widget from each link and still be useful to your users, and probably google as well. This method is also much more efficient as well.

agent_x




msg:4444008
 8:39 pm on Apr 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

You can certainly get away with having 2 similar sites on the same server..so long as they are 2 completely different sites and offer something different.

What I have experienced, if you are running 2 sites that are using the same script and have the same/similar content, one of those sites will likely never see the light of day in google. You are more likely to get away with this if they are running on separate servers.

Keep in mind as well, I have not explored this in over 3 years as I keep any similar sites completely separated from each other.

I like to think AHEAD of google and anything that can be a factor will be a factor if it isn't already.


In my (somewhat limited compared to yours I imagine) experience, if you have two sites on the same server sharing the same content, you can kiss goodbye to both of them in Google. However, I suspect it now goes further after Panda, and if two sites are targetting some of the same keywords, Google will only rank one of them. What I don't know is how much effect it has on the other.

Scotch




msg:4444038
 11:06 pm on Apr 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I operate a site that has been dominant for many years usually at the number 1 spot for many great keywords... site's been online for over 10 years. I believe I'm seeing a soft penalty on the site with some rankings dropping to the 2 and 3 spots. Because I haven't updated the title or anchor text on the site in a very long time, I know the site definitely has way too many keywords in text, keyword title tags, bolded keywords, etc. It's just performed so well that I never changed that. My mistake.

Question to Brinked and others: I'd like to start changing and updating the various pages of the site immediately to address these concerns. Do you think it's risky to do sitewide updates right now or should I implement them more slowly over the next couple weeks? Would at least like to tackle the homepage asap. Doesn't seem that Google would care if you revamped your site to fall in line with the new algorithm parameters but who knows. I'm hoping that once the changes are made, we will be released from the penalty box (Brinked - I took great comfort in your approach and experience in seeing sites de-penalized automatically after removing offending elements without the need for a formal reconsideration request... hoping that's the case for me).

Thanks in advance.

CainIV




msg:4444096
 5:34 am on Apr 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Nice post brinked, and fantastic contributions on behalf of many of the members.

The only item I would add here which tends, in my mind to "counteract" OOP and reinforce positive rankings - is to think like a brand. You touched on this in usability.

Brands, for the most part, care about the user. They cater to the user. They want to sell. They put the value proposition first. This requires brands to make usability one of the number one keys for success on their prospective websites.

And they send signals to Google that they are real, tangible entities and are therefore a least one "trust" level up in Google's eyes in terms of what they present. Sometimes reversing link penalties can be as simple as aggressively chasing down poor links, and replacing with membership, civic organizations and trusted, accredited sources at the city or topic level within your niche.

Often, improving brand signals alone can completely change the way in which Google perceives not only your website, but your back links as well.

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