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I just read FranticFish's post <#:4045479, dated Dec 18, 2009> in this thread:
and it clicked. I've been penalized for the anchor text which appears *on* the penalized pages, not pointing to them. For example a page titled "Big Red Widgets" contains many links to products, each with anchor text like:
"Big Red Long Widget"
"Big Red Hairy Widget"
"Big Red Exasperated Widget"
So it's the many times repeated "Big", "Red", and "Widget" anchor text on the penalized pages that causes the penalization? If so, I could deoptimize but I think a list of links to products with anchor text like this would be confusing for users:
Is that what Google expects me to do?
[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 8:07 pm (utc) on Dec. 21, 2009]
[edit reason] fixed linking problem [/edit]
Still, I have seen many examples where backing off on keyword repetition in the on-page anchor text was followed by removal of a penalty. The first time things went that way was dealing with a friend's website after the Florida update. Then after the advent of phrase-based indexing a couple years later, I saw more examples of penalties that were lifted after the same kind of changes.
But to say this happens "after" a certain action does not prove that it happens "because of" that action -- I have also seen similar penalties that did not budge even when on-page anchor text was "de-optimized" to a major degree.
I found that I had to make a shift in my overall thinking. I've been doing web marketing since the mid-nineties, and back then the way to compete and have the search engines acknowledge a page's relevance was to shout at them, over and over again "[keyword] is what this page is about!" Then as search algos matured, that successful habit became a doorway to potential penalties.
In some cases it can take a good deal of creativity to maintain the user experience without looking like a keyword stuffer to the algorithm. Images of keyword text used judiciously have been one tool I use. Sometimes placing a keyword heading over a list of links, (such as "Types of Widgets") can clarify the experience for the visitor and still allow for keyword reduction in the anchor text.
The biggest issue I found was when those repeated keyword links are in the content area of a page - even in a right-floated sidebar. And the second most problematic area has been the footer. Repeated keyword anchor text doesn't seem to be as damaging when it is in a clearly defined main navigation section.
The overall context of the page is king, both for the algo and for the user. When the cues for that context are clear enough, then repetition is not needed as much.
over-optimization penalties come into play when a particular page has too great a keyword density, either inside anchor text or outside anchor text
Are keywords inside anchor text more of a penalty/over-optimization problem than keywords outside anchor text?
For keywords inside anchor text, it isn't the linked-to page that receives the penalty, but the page on which the links appear?
"I removed all of that anchor text last night and I noticed a drop in rankings this morning. I re-linked the text this morning and my previous rankings have returned. So it sounds like I took de-optimization too far. I really feel like I'm walking the Google tightrope between user experience, optimization for rankings, and avoidance of over-optimization for penalties. "
I removed all of that anchor text last night and I noticed a drop in rankings this morning. I re-linked the text this morning and my previous rankings have returned.
I saw such paths: widgets.com/blue-widgets/light-blue-widgets ranking very well in google.
I'm considering de-linking all of my site's anchor text that is duplicated by an adjacent image link to see if I get released from a penalty.