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Can some keywords get a penalty?



12:54 pm on Sep 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

< moderator note: the domain name used here as an example is not a real domain.
Although we almost always prefer using
example.com we are allowing
an exception in this case to help clarify the question. >

Last 3 years we created backlinks with 3 main anchors for our website.
Domain name example is www.jackusedcars.com keywords: bmw , audi , mercedes. We have chosen some big keywords as our main keywords.

And some more small search volume words: buy used cars, used cars sell off. 90% of backlinks are with main keywords.

Opensearchexplorer Anchors:
BMW 2,505 162,638
audi 1,111 209,542
mercedes 735 64,649
used cars 382 28,368
car sale 136 8,517
toyota 108 13,106
buy used car 34 820
car sell off 28 710
usedcars.com 26 45
sold cars 23 472

Website title example is: BMW Shop, buy Audi and Mercedes used cars

90% of backlinks are to index page. (Now we have Linking Root Domains 5,158; Total Links: 512k) all backlinks are related, we never used any auto spam tool etc.
in 2011, November 16-30th "audi" keyword traffic dropped, around -80%. Other keywords were ok.
We haven't been kicked by penguin in august 24. Graph was the same. Since November, our index page traffic dropped by 70%...

1st question: We got penalized for overoptimizing with "AUDI" keyword? Or its just another reason it stopped driving traffic?

I know that for such linkbuilding we could get kicked by penguin on next update. So now we are de-optimizing the website, changing our old backlinks to different anchors and different urls (car pages - with car name anchors). We are quite good in the search results with product pages now. 1st page always - serp depends on the competition. For example "Used BMW 530 car for sale".

We are creating new backlinks like this:
10% to index with different anchors - not the old big ones
20% to http://italian.jackusedcars.com with italian anchors
20% to http://www.jackusedcars.com/search/bmw530 with "buy bmw530", "bmw530 sale" and so on
50% to product names http://www.jackusedcars.com/BMW-530-i-x-2009-full-options.html with product name anchor

We still want to get our traffic back with popular keywords. We have them written in title and keyword density on-page is 0.99% (previously was 1.37%).
Every month we lose around 10% of traffic to index page. We were with these keywords in top3, and now only 1 keyword is somewhere in top 10, others are not even in top 50.

2nd question: Should we remove "BMW, AUDI, Mercedes" from title? (they are still driving us around 20% traffic + 20% with bmw sub-keywords) We could lose almost 50% of total traffic. Only sub-pages will drive traffic with non-popular keywords.

We have plans of making page www.jackusedcars.com/bmw and optimize it with "BMW" keyword. Could it go through?
Some old backlinks would be changed to this page.
Our best conversion is with these main keywords, so we really need to get them back.

[edited by: tedster at 2:31 pm (utc) on Sep 15, 2012]

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 2:57 am (utc) on Sep 18, 2012]


3:18 pm on Sep 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

The answer to your title question is straightforward - YES! Certain keywords can be penalized even though others are not. And having lots of backlinks where you obviously controlled the anchor text is a kind of off-site keyword stuffing.

This control is very clear to a company like Google with all their data, They know what a normal or natural distribution of anchor text looks like and they easilty can see when a site is far outside that distribution compared ot other, similar sites. So they can and do penalize for it, and you won't fix this off-site over-optimization issue by doing more of the same thing.

At the same time, don't worry to much about calculating on-page keyword density. It's a non-productive dead end these days. The idea goes back to Alta Vista and Infoseek, and it's not very relevant to today's search engines.

[edited by: tedster at 3:21 pm (utc) on Sep 15, 2012]


3:20 pm on Sep 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

What percentage of your links are on non-relevant pages?


3:26 pm on Sep 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

RegDCP, 5%


4:13 pm on Sep 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

First post from a long time lurker. Great forum and some well informed posters contributing.

If such a kw penalty was awarded (for over and above what could be interpreted as natural distribution) would it expire after a certain period (90 days?) or it is permanent?

The implication is it would be futile to try and 'dilute' such offsite stuffing with other non kw anchors. If this is true and the penalty permanent then surely such a site has lost its ability to rerank for those kw?


4:34 pm on Sep 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

If such a kw penalty was awarded (for over and above what could be interpreted as natural distribution) would it expire after a certain period (90 days?) or it is permanent?

This type of penalty is usually algorithmic, not manual. So I wouldn't expect it to "expire" until the underlying cause is corrected.


4:58 pm on Sep 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

RegDCP, 5%

I don't think that Google is going to penalize on the basis of overall percentages.

I DO think that they are going to apply their penalties based on the misuse of linking.

If we look at a 100% organic link profile, the use of anchor text is not under the control of the site being linked to, but is up to the (organic) linker.

Using a base percentage for a phrase is further complicated by the efficiency of the linked page's call to action.
A very clear CTA would increase the percentage of a specific keyword phrase being used as anchor text.

Your 5% off topic - non-relevant link profile is 24,443 links.
This is a significant total, and I would think it to be well above the trigger point of any spam link penalties.

If such a kw penalty was awarded (for over and above what could be interpreted as natural distribution) would it expire after a certain period (90 days?) or it is permanent?

I have been working with clients in the same position and found that the penalties will follow across to a brand new domain, if ownership is linked.

Since it has been 144 days since Penguin, I would surmise that it is not 90 days.

The only thing I can think of is to start a brand new domain under different ownership/IP block.
Since Google is also a registrar, I am not sure if privatizing the whois would work.

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