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Over-optimization of a Wikipedia Article

Posted by Melanie Phung on Friday, February 29, 2008 at 10:39 am

Does an over-optimization penalty exist? And what counts as over-optimization? I came across this discussion on on the “950 penalty” on Webmaster World. They posit that too many internal links with optimized anchor text is what triggers an over-optimization penalty. And maybe they are onto something.

This week I was testing the effect of increased cross-linking on a Wikipedia page — by finding related articles and linking back to the target, by adding the target to more relevant categories — and I probably doubled the number of internal pages linking to the one I wanted to boost.

Instead of boosting the page in the SERPs, it appears this effort might have torpedoed the page. This morning it was nowhere to be found in the top 100 results anywhere. It’s not a competitive term, and none of the other results appear to have changed dramatically, so it seems reasonable to me to assume it was something about this page, not the results in general, and that there was a causal relationship between the links and the drop.

I’m not entirely surprised that “excessive” interlinking could hurt; I’m just surprised that (what I’d consider to be) a moderate amount of interlinking could get a Wikipedia page penalized so quickly. I truly believed pages on that domain were more robust and could stand up to that strategy. (After all, there is a ton of internal linking and all internal links on Wikipedia use optimized anchor text.)

Well, time to undo some of those links and see if it comes back.

Update: March 2
I removed most, but not all, the internal links and the listing came back rather quickly, though in a lower position than before.

On an upbeat note … I managed to get a Wikipedia page erased from Google, temporarily? Damn, how awesome is that?

Comments (9)

Category: Google,Link Building


Comment by SEO Hack

Made Saturday, 1 of March , 2008 at 5:07 pm

does this mean you don’t want me to rant about this? cuz this seems pretty friendly and i could really go off, you know, if you wanted me too. 😉

Comment by Melanie Phung

Made Sunday, 2 of March , 2008 at 7:52 pm

I’ll leave the ranting to you. It’s not really this blog’s shtick. But I think it does deserve a good rant.

Comment by SEO Hack

Made Tuesday, 4 of March , 2008 at 2:46 am

well, since that wasn’t a rant, go check it out!

Comment by SEO Hack

Made Tuesday, 4 of March , 2008 at 2:47 am


Comment by SEO Hack

Made Tuesday, 4 of March , 2008 at 2:49 am

well, since that wasn’t a rant, go check out what i put together you. 😉

Comment by SEO Hack

Made Tuesday, 4 of March , 2008 at 2:50 am

ah crap. i hate blogger. i didn’t mean to comment spam you. really, i didn’t.

Comment by Melanie Phung

Made Tuesday, 4 of March , 2008 at 10:19 am

And a pretty piss poor job of comment spamming too, Hack, since the link just goes to my error page.

Are you leaving comments logged in via OpenID and that’s how Blogger creates the link? Or why are you leaving off the http:// on your web address?

Comment by SEO Hack

Made Tuesday, 4 of March , 2008 at 6:30 pm

see, in wordpress you don’t have to do stupid shit like that. they know idiots like me use their service and cater to me. Whereas with Blogger, they’re just like Google and make you do things their way or you get to look like a friggin’ idiot in front of your peers or are considered some sort of ne’er do well spammer.

Comment by Melanie Phung

Made Tuesday, 11 of March , 2008 at 2:42 pm

No worries 😉 You’ve actually done me a favor by making it look like this post has generated lots of discussion. As for looking like an idiot in front of your peers, you have nothing to worry about. You see, no one actually reads this blog. (shh)

And thanks for ranting about Wikipedia for me.

I have something else I really want to rant about, but it would be in really poor form. 🙁

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