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Minus 50/60 penalty on single keyword

3:55 pm on Sep 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Around mid-august our site appeared to receive a -50 penalty in G search. The site was set up in early 2005 and is a specific resort's guide with unique hand written content and imagery. The penalty only affects the single keyword which is the "resort name" and also the domain name i.e.


"resortname" has shown up in the top 3 in G for about 2 years before dropping to 6-7 about 4 months ago. We then went to 51 and 2 days ago fell further to 63.

I've spent some time reading about this penalty and see that the likeliest cause is bad inbound links. I've checked all the inbound links via Yahoo and various backlink checkers and there appears to be nothing dodgy going on.

My first attempt at clean-up involved reducing the density of "resortname" on the front page, adding nofollow to affiliate links on the front page and also
nofollow on the links page to 2 other related websites we own on the same IP. An inclusion request which was duly reviewed but with no change.

Going forward I suspect that over use of inbound anchor text with the single term "resortname" might be an issue. There are also a reasonable number
of "resortname.info" anchor text links. Combining resortname and resortname.info means that this anchor text accounts for around 25% of total inbound links. I will try and get some changed and also get more links with varied anchor text.

The second potential issue is that the static html pages all begin with the resortname so that the urls look like this:


etc etc

I set this up when I didn't know any better! I'm considering putting in 301s so that /resortname-reviews.html becomes /reviews.html etc etc

This keyword accounts for 40% of site traffic and with the key season fast approaching any thoughts or observations would be greatly appreciated.

[edited by: tedster at 6:14 pm (utc) on Sep. 4, 2009]
[edit reason] make information more generic [/edit]

9:07 pm on Sept 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I'd say your thinking is good - back off on the keyword-in-filepath factor, as well as too many occurrences in internal anchor text. A gentle touch is a good thing when the keyword is also the domain name.
3:52 pm on Sept 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If this is a penalty, it makes no sense. Why should the website of a resort be penalized for searches of the resort's own name? So what if all the anchor texts, URLs, etc include this name -- That doesn't justify a penalty. It's just wrong.
4:51 pm on Sept 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I'm with tedster on this, you've accidentally gone for overkill, almost like an OOP (over optimisation penalty), and a recent change in the algo has picked up on it and demoted it.

Google loves sequences of keyword descriptions in the domain name and the url extension when the relevant description is on the specific page.

7:05 pm on Sept 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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The URL extensions are certainly very relavent. For example on this page:


The H1 page title is Resortname Reviews and the page has all the user reviews.

The thing is I look at the URLs and it does look odd to have the keyword twice but I've been loath to change with the site ranking well.

Tedster: To be clear, you're saying go down the 301 route
and drop the resortname element in the page name?

Another point is that I am in fact trying to skew search results by gaining a percentage of inbounds with the single
keyword anchor text (not sure if I'm supposed to admit this). It's worked really well on several other sites that are glued to number 1 (with sitelinks) for their domain name/keyword. However, I've always considered that I'm doing the right thing as these keywords are the resort names and therefore the most relavent to each site. It should be said that the newer sites don't have the double keyword URL.

Latest position. Down 4 places to 67 earlier today. At time of writing has reverted to 51.

11:23 am on Sept 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Today (Sept 9th) the site returned to number 6 in UK search for this keyword.

I hadn't started phase 2 of changes such as the 301 redirects and now plan to put any further changes on hold and whilst monitoring placement over the next few weeks.

The site is still down in the 50-70 range for google.com search and other regional searches such as .au. However the site is aimed at UK visitors so this is not too much of a concern.

The cache date for the main page is Sept 6th.

The summary of changes so far would seem to be fairly small:

Reduced density of keyword on main page (3.9% down to 3.4%).
Established 4 relevant inbound links with varied anchor text (not showing yet in WT).
no follows on affiliate links and cross linking to other site we own.