Writer Tips for the Google Penguin, Over-Optimization Penalty

By My Web Writers 

If there’s one quality needed to be an effective content writer, it is probably flexibility. Just when you think you’re stellar at finding and using keywords in copy, headings, and titles, Google makes changes.

Throughout 2011, My Web Writers made quality content suggestions for Panda and Google’s Knowledge Graph .  We summarized Google’s Quality Rater’s Handbook and shared tips for the 2013 savvy e-tail writer.  We owe you some concrete content suggestions for Penguin.

Penguin Basics for Content Writers

Penguin is actually a series of algorithm changes.  In March 2012, Matt Cutts pre- announced the first iteration at SXS West (and you can listen to the audio here).  Updates continue to this day.  Penguin prefers quality content and penalizes over optimization and too perfect anchor text.  If you’re simply a good writer with some SEO knowledge, you can create a website that performs well with natural sounding sentence structure and word choices.  Link buying and keyword stuffing are taboo.

Keyword stuffing is the overuse of keywords.  In the “old days”, a piece on Kate Middleton would include her name as a keyword in the article to the tune of 7 – 8 percent density.

That’s not a good tactic, according to Penguin.  An article today should refer to Kate in subsequent mentions as Duchess Catherine, Prince William’s bride, and the Duchess of Cambridge.  While Kate’s name can still appear in the article, avoid ad-nauseam usage.

Imagine a friend who speaks to you, but repeats a certain phrase over and over in conversation. This would become really annoying pretty quickly, as does keyword stuffing.  Basically, write copy you’d enjoy reading.  Be creative and fresh.

We also suggest examining your inbound linking profile.  Questionable links need to be removed, if possible.   Also, don’t over-link to your website from your blog, lead gen site, or affiliates.

Penguin’s Dislikes

According to John Doherty of distilled.net, Penguin does not like the following:

  • low quality sites (sites with a low page rank),
  • exact anchors,
  • over optimized exact anchors,
  • too many exact anchors over branded terms.

Penguin Prefers Natural Sounding Anchor Text

Don’t over optimize anchor text with exact meta titles. You’re a flexible writer, so you can do it.  Use synonyms, plural or singular forms, or conjugations.  Anchor text that falls within a sentence needs correct usage and grammar.

Keep content engaging and interesting.  In short, write what you, as a potential customer, would benefit from reading.  Write content that doesn’t knock buyers over the head with sales pitches. Your customers will thank you, and it’s likely that Penguin will show his or her pleasure by ranking your site high.

Keeping up with Google’s frequent algorithm changes can seem like a full-time job, but reworking your content for Penguin is worth the investment.

~Susan and Jean



Filed under Algorithms, Keywords, Penguin, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Website Linking

5 responses to “Writer Tips for the Google Penguin, Over-Optimization Penalty

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