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Google and Over Optimisation Penalties | Net Writing

Google and Over Optimisation Penalties

It is good to eat food. If you don’t eat food you will have no energy. However, because it is good to eat food it doesn’t mean you stuff yourself with 10 meals a day.

Similarly, it is good to get inbound links with your preferred keyword anchor text. However, if you get too many in a short space of time, it can be bad for your blog. Google is increasingly viewing “over optimisation tricks” in a bad light. Basically, Google have never liked people who try to artificially inflate their rankings with clever SEO tricks.

Also, what worked in the past doesn’t mean it will work in the future. If you are not careful, overzealous SEO techniques can lead to severe Google penalties, like the 950 penalty. This means your rankings drop 950 places for every keyword on your site. It can and does happen overnight – and it hurts.

Case Study: John Chow

John Chow is a top A List blogger. He made $12,000 dollars in June 2007 alone. John started a scheme where you could trade links. You review his blog with the keyword text “Make money online” and he would link to your blog. Nearly 1,000 people participated giving John’s blog 1,000 inbound links with his target “Make Money Online”.

1,000 inbound links, from a variety of blogs, with his preferred keyword anchor text. Pretty smart SEO? But, how did Google respond?

They kicked him off all search engine rankings. Even searching for his name “John Chow” doesn’t return his blog. And this is an A list blogger, who is in the technorati top 100. Personally I think this makes Google looks stupid, if I search John Chow I want to see as number 1. So I doubt this penalty will last forever. However, it shows that Google want to really try and hit people who are gaming the system.

Does this Mean SEO Is dead?

No, far from it. What it means is that you have to be careful and judicious. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I.e. getting inbound links should be still a small part of your strategy; however, if you put all your effort into one strategy it will backfire.

Natural Growth

Google like natural growth. If you suddenly start getting a huge number of links, especially from unrelated sites, Google may well penalise you. Instead work on generating content and promoting articles. Work on getting links, but they should be gradual and natural

More is Often Less.

It is good to get 5 inbound links with your preferred anchor text. But this doesn’t mean getting 10 inbound links is twice as good. If you get 50 inbound links, in a short space of time with same anchor text, it will probably do more damage than good.

Don’t Rely On Google

Is John Chow worried? Well earning 5 figures a month and having a huge RSS readership, he can afford to take a hit from Google. But could you? Does your strategy rely on traffic from Google? If it does, be extra careful. Alternatively, try working on a generating a loyal readership through RSS subscriptions. Organic referrals are much safer than relying on Google. Google are developing an alarming capacity to be very volatile ( In my opinion, this shows Google are struggling to do a good job, but that’s another post)


If you are very committed to getting more inbound links, you have to see the importance of diversity. This means diversity in terms of anchor text.

Duplication of Content

Google is declaring war on splogs. Splogs are sites that just duplicate content and offer nothing original. This is good, but other sites are getting penalised in Google’s new zealousness. Therefore, be wary of duplicating content.

  • For example, if you use ezines to get links I advise not having article on your own site as well. This means you will not be associated with all the splogs who copy the article.


#1 Webmaster-Source » » Webmaster Articles Blog Carnival - July 18, 2007 Edition on 07.16.07 at 5:41 pm

[...] Pettinger of Net Writing presents Google and Over Optimization Penalties. Yes, Google can be unfair at times (a lot). They need to rethink some of their [...]

#2 Google 950 Penalty | Net Writing on 11.25.07 at 6:30 pm

[...] If you participate in dubious link exchanges. I.e. with link farms e.t.c this could give you a bad reputation. Google may wish to penalise you for engaging in SEO tricks. Also if you gain a high number of links overnight, this may cause overoptimisation signals to be triggered. See: google and over optimisation [...]