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?
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