Anchor related off-page over-optimization penalties in 2017: An SEO case study

By October 3, 2017 October 13th, 2017 SEO

I haven’t had a penalty in a loooong time, so when I got up a few days ago and saw the graph below, I was a bit surprised. But instead of giving in to the anxiety, I’m turning this into a case study on how to (hopefully) recover from an over-optimization penalty caused by an unbalanced anchor profile that focuses too much on keyword rich anchors.

What you see below is a sample of the keyword cluster I’m targeting with the project, all keywords follow the same trend… which is downwards.

This an obvious penalty, and when I look at the anchor profile, I must admit I’ve been too aggressive, using a lot of Brand + Keyword anchors. To get my rankings back, I’ll do the same thing I did when I had one of these a few years back… dilute the anchor profile by adding generic/branded/topically related anchors from ok-ish sources/sites. With ok-ish, I mean I’ll avoid the usual spam like comments, forum profiles, guest books… basically all the stuff that worked back in 2013 but got devalued through the many many updates Google pushed throughout the years.

So instead I’ll focus on guest post type links, but not the expensive kind (not revealing my sources in this one).

I’ll be building around 70 of these over the next few weeks, track my rankings, and updated this post if stuff starts moving.

The Log

1/10/2017: Started the process of building 70 links with branded/generic anchors (ETA 3 weeks)

13/10/2017: Well this turned out to be a quicker recovery then I would have thought. I checked all the links that were built to the project for that kw cluster, noticed about 10% wasn’t indexed yet, and all of those were generic/branded kws… they got indexed, rankings came back, only just tipping me back into the green imho. The graph below represents all the keywords in the cluster combined (around 65 kws – courtesy of

Yup, def got lucky there.

One Comment

  • Avatar Tyler says:

    Interesting. I noticed this as well. I built about 50 comments all at the same time which definitely negatively impacted our rankings. I immediately disavowed them all and we slowly recovered.

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