@crobb305 regarding alt tags:
I wrote an original hands-on product review a couple of months ago. That review has about 15 images and all they have a part or the whole product name in their alt tags, as well as in images' title tags. I did not do that because of SE manipulation, but because on these images is the product, not something else.
Recently I did another review but forgot to put the product name in alt tags except in one image and that post is on the 1st SERP page.
It looks like I got penalized because of alt tag overoptimization in the first case.
Now I'll remove or change alt tags in the penalized post to see what happens.
BTW, the site in question is Pandalized in Feb last year.