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Will google penalize for over optimization?

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# 1
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I understand it's not a good idea to pay for back links and this is certainly something I would not intentionally do.  I do however have a few website listings. All of these have pages with a write up about my business and a link to my website. As my customers are all tourists I decided to place a banner ad on an accommodation booking site. I have since discovered there are 397 external links to my website from this domain.  They have the same banner ads on multiple pages all with the same anchor text "nz accommodation accommodation new zealand accommodation nz new zealand accommodation apartments". The anchor text seems to be for their benefit rather than mine.  My industry hires baby equipment so the anchor text is a bit odd.  The same anchor text has been used for all the banner ads placed by other businesses too.


A while ago I paid to have SEO analysis on my website. I was given a report that compared my site to my competitor. It was noted that my competitor had a lot of back links from this particular domain. I was advised to list with this website too so that I would at least match the back links my competitor was getting. I'm now left wondering whether this was bad advice?


I conducted an anchor text over optimization report. "nz accommodation accommodation new zealand accommodation nz new zealand accommodation apartments" was red flagged. It had a link percentage of 57% and mozRank percentage of 71.54%.


So do I need to worry about these back links? I would have thought the anchor text would be more damaging to their own website as it's clearly keyword stuffing. As the anchor text they have used is not something my potential customers would use as a search term does this mean it won't damage my website?


I advertised with this website because a family with young children may want to hire baby equipment.  It was not my intention to buy back links.


Please can someone let me know if I should keep or remove these banner ads?



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Accepted by topic author Lucy W
November 2015

Re: Will google penalize for over optimization?

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# 2
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Hi @Lucy W,


Welcome to the Google Advertiser Community. 


The best place to post this question would be Google Webmasters Forum. Here's the link for you -!forum/webmasters


My advise on your scenario would be -

Contact the publisher and request corrections in the anchor texts. The present anchor definitely will definitely not do any good.


The best approach however would be to ask the publisher to add a rel="nofollow" tag to your link. 


It's always best practice to add nofollow to advertising links. 


My two cents. 


Ratan Jha


Re: Will google penalize for over optimization?

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# 3
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@Ratan-Jha is 100% correct. This is not for this forum @Lucy W and you should have rel=nofollow added to the advertisement or remove it from their website all together. If the traffic is not benefiting you, then you are causing more harm to your website than good.

Ben Fisher, Google My Business Top Contributor
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Re: Will google penalize for over optimization?

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# 4
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Thanks Ratan-Jha and Ben F for your replies. Yes sorry, I realised after I posted that it was the wrong place. I got a bit confused as this forum set up seems to have changed since I last used it. I have already posted on Google Webmasters Forum.

Thanks for the advice re adding rel="nofollow" tag to my link. I was certain I needed to take some sort of action but didn't know what. I will contact the publisher and request they implement your suggestion.

Cheers guys :-)

Re: Will google penalize for over optimization?

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# 5
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Banner advertising should be:  rel="nofollow"


The other thing, that made me sit up, was the fact that this "banner ad" was using optimised anchor text.


This immediately suggests to me that it is not a particularly good site. I would check how much traffic these banner ads have sent you in your analytics and also the quality of the traffic.


I suspect its pretty negligible and to get rid of them. If on the other hand traffic is good, then reach out to them and make sure that the link is rel="nofollow"


I would do this sooner rather then later, as we can expect Penguin to be run in the next few months.

Tim Capper, Google My Business Top Contributor
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Tim operates a bespoke Local SEO Consultancy in the UK, Online Ownership

Re: Will google penalize for over optimization?

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# 6
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Hi Lucy,
I have a similar client right now, She had 4000 linked domains pointing to her page...I had to go through those domains and see which ones were not spammy. I ended up narrowing the list down to about 60 root domains. It is a little bit of work but it's the best way to ensure google doesn't penalize you when penguin updates. Put your domain in and export all your inbound links. Use the moz tool to see which links are bed (by spam score) and also make sure the link is relevant to your site.
You never know you may end up having good links but the only way to really tell for sure is by going to them yourself and saying "I"m on this site if i click this link is it going to take me to a site that makes sense (relative)." I hope that helps, I mean their may be another way out there, but I found the manual search the most efficient. You may end up with a lot less links in the end, but at least you wouldn't get hurt by any penalties.

Re: Will google penalize for over optimization?

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# 7
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Hi Kyle,

The moz tool indicated the website that I'm getting 397 backlinks from has a score of 3/17. I figure this is quite a low spam score so it's probably OK. Though I'm still confused as to why they have the same alt text for every image on their site? It's a holiday accommodation directory. So basically my banner ad and everyone else's banner is mostly nothing to do with accommodation but we share the same customer base - ie tourists. So the text on all the pages is to do with holiday accommodation and my business rents baby equipment to people on holiday. If a customer clicks the banner ad it certainly is relevant if they are hiring a holiday home and they have children. Though whether it's relevant to Google? Probably not. Also the alt text I believe is also the anchor text? So if the alt text is also about accommodation this I would suggest means it's not relevant to my website?

I'm left thinking that the banner ad itself is a good idea in terms of brand awareness and reaching people that may be interested. Though a nofollow attribute would be the safe thing to avoid any Google penalties. Also, even if Google does think the link is relevant it could be seen as paying for links?

I did contact the owner of the website and they contacted their SEO guys who replied with the following:

"This is to inform you that, your website not being paralysed because we follow all Google guidelines to create high quality back links for your website, please see attached snapshot and your website is safe.

In other hand, alt tag use only for crawl images, because Google does not crawl any images. So it introduces all images to Google spider. We use proper alt tag and title tag with each image. Alt tag not plays any critical to be penalized website. So please don’t worry about it."

Their SEO team sent him a snapshot of Sandbox checker which says the site is OK. The owner of the website has now asked me to comment on the response he got from his SEO team.

Now I'm very confused and left wondering if I've been concerned about nothing? As the site is only flagged with 3/17 spam flags maybe the biggest issue is the follow attribute being detrimental to my website and for their website they personally have nothing to worry about? Though I never said their site was being paralysed. I just sent that having the same alt attribute for every image was keyword stuffing and they could be penalized for it. There's a big difference between being paralysed and losing some PR.