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Could it be that I have over optimized for my most relevant phrase? It is part of the name of the company and it is used very often in our content since well it is what our content is about, it's hard to avoid using it. It's hard to get under 7% density or so and the page names use it only because it makes sense and as I said it is also in our company name.
thanks guys for any input on this. I haven't heard anything similar yet.
The name -950 is a bit of a misnomer. The penalty attracted that name because the most dramatic examples, the ones that first caught webmasters' attention, involved dropping from page one to the last page... or near the last page. But there never was any particular "minus" number.
I've been assuming that the phrase-based spam detection patent is in play to detect over-optimization. If that's the case, you can think of the so-called -950 penalty like this. First the algorithm calculates raw relevance scores, not specific ranking positions. The SERP positions could then be generated by putting the urls in order from the highest relevance score to the lowest.
However, if over-optimization is detected for any of the urls in the result set, the "penalty" kicks in before the final ordering happens. The preliminary relevance score can either be multiplied by some fraction, or have a certain amount subtracted. Then the SERPs are then re-ranked according to the order for those adjusted scores.
If your Company Name includes keywords that are in this particular query, then you are in a position to unintentionally trigger the over-optimization penalty.
Since the phrase is not only in the domains,menus,category titles(which become URLs with my CMS) it looks like this www.bluewidgets.com/big-blue-widgets/the-super-blue-widget/ and then those pages have the phrase in the content describing the widget. Maybe I could rename my categories since my content kind of needs to have the words it uses for it to make sense.
So far I have went and taken every use of the word out that still allows the content to be readable and get the point across but through the whole site that was only about 6. I'll try renaming the categories and creating some new 301 redirects to the new URLS. I just wish I knew if this is going to make it worse or not and I don't want to go to far with un-optimizing :) I guess it takes a couple months to see.
Bottom line IMO Google is leading many webmasters to believe they are doing something wrong when in reality the webmasters are utilizing completely legitimate methods. Google on the other hand is showing favoritism to sites that deal in an array of dissimilar subjects that canít possibly incur penalties because there is limited repetition within the site.
I run a site widgets.com and target keywords widgets and cheap widgets. The site less than 4 months old but it has been released from the sandbox. It was getting better in rankings with page 3 for "widgets" and page 1 for "cheap widgets". Early September the site dropped way down for these keywords, now at pages 10 and 4.
Only the main page is affected, and only when the word widgets appears in the search phrase. Subpages rank ok (even with the widgets word) and the main page ranks fairly ok for other searches.
All backlinks are natural and all outgoing links are marked as nofollow. Because our site name and domain include the main keyword it is used on most of the backlinks as anchor text. I think this has tripped an "over-optimizing for a specific keyword" filter. Depending on the datacenter a subpage can outrank my main page for "widgets" which is odd and clearly shows the main page is under a filter.
What should I try to do? It's difficult to vary the anchor text on my backlinks. If someone links to my site they will of course use the best word that describes my site and the content which is "widgets". If I add my site to a directory it wouldn't make much sense to use another word. As for linking from my own sites, I'm trying to avoid it after Google noticed it and manually checked all domains with my name in the Whois. Lesson learned.
Maybe as the site gets older and gets more backlinks the trust rank gets higher and G will be more forgiving for the fact that I clearly target a specific - and yes, commercial - keyword with my site.