Avoiding And Recovering From The Google Over Optimization Penalty

Four common reasons why blogs risk penalties—and remedies for recovery

It hardly seems fair when you’re penalized for doing something well does it?

However, when Google penalizes your website because it’s too unique (aka: when you’ve over-optimized your blog with too many SEO techniques too quickly) it can seem like you’re being mistreated for doing things right.

As a blogger for an SEO company, I have worked under the reality that Google updates its algorithms quite frequently and I understand how this can cause a little hoop jumping when the new algorithm is unleashed on the web. One recent update of this nature seemed actually targeted at search engine marketers who overuse SEO techniques on their blogs and websites. Known as over-optimization, Google will slap you with a penalty if they suspect your search engine ranking was earned artificially (or via too many so-called SEO tricks).

To understand what not to do, you first have to understand what an SEO over optimization penalty is…

If you’re a “white hat” SEO (or in other words, one who follows the rules) you risk an over optimization penalty if you:

  • Create too many back-links in a short time period
  • Use too many keywords in your content
  • If you’re website looks to spammy
  • If you’re website appears artificially relevant

Overall, Google uses 200 factors (and they don’t tell the public what they are) to determine whether a website is the recipient of an over optimization penalty. So be warned, apply too many of the following SEO tactics to your website, and you’ll risk an over-optimization penalty:

1. Getting spammy with keywords

Spam is frowned upon in Google for obvious reasons, but as an SEO you understand how important including your target keywords in places like your body copy, title tags, meta data, image captions, and link strategy is to your website’s success. The key is keyword variety…it’s the “spice of life” after all. So that means, your headings, descriptions, image captions, etc., shouldn’t simply repeat the same keyword over and over again—instead, make an attempt to keep the copy conversational in manner and use different combinations of keywords throughout your site

2. Overuse of H1 tags

Same goes for excessive H1 tags (or heading 1s), overusing them in the body copy of your site (i.e., in your blog articles) will surely smell off to Google. Instead, use only one heading 1 per page or blog article and break up the copy using H2s (heading 2s) and H3 tags (heading 3s) sprinkled with varied SEO keywords.

3. BLOOP (or Back-link Over Optimization Penalty)

No one wants a BLOOP (or a Back-link Over Optimization Penalty) –especially if you’re an SEO. But you’ll be slapped with a big old BLOOP if all of your back-links contain the same anchor text (if you’re in the habit of repeating the same anchor text over and over STOP IT NOW!!!). Instead, get creative and keep keyword variations in mind when building back links.

4. All links target the homepage

I understand that we all get lazy every once in a while. However, if your entire website links target your main URL (or go back to your homepage) it’s not helping your site visitors find the information they want now is it. No, it’s probably frustrating them and having them click off your site to another more helpful one. Not only are you turning off readers, Google will assume your blog is not relevant and slap you with a penalty. Instead, take care of your copy and use links that target relevant page information for your readers (i.e., if you link to the anchor “exercise balls” on your fitness site, that link should take readers to a page on fitness balls—not back to your homepage).

About The Author: Caeden M MacGregor is a staff writer for SEO in Vancouver who specializes in blogging on viral marketing, social media, and internet marketing tips and techniques. Caeden has written for numerous blogs in a variety of fields ranging from software to fitness, and from gourmet food to travel.

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