Is There a Keyword Phrase Specific Penalty?

Apr 3, 2009 • 7:58 am | comments (6) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search & Web SEO Spam

Throughout my many years (makes me sound old) in the search industry, I have heard about many filters and penalties, including a filter or penalty to prevent a site from ranking well for a specific keyword phrase. For example, if I want to rank well for big blue pineapple chair and I create a page about a big blue pineapple chair but Google never ranks me for that term, I may consider my site to be penalized from ranking well from that specific term.

A HighRankings Forum thread has a couple webmasters asking about such a filter. They say they rank well for everything they want, but not for a single keyword phrase that they once ranked well for. The question they asked does a search engine, such as Google, penalize a site for a specific keyword phrase?

Here is a poll, let me know what you think about this topic:

As you can see from the poll, I have two Yes answers and one No. You can select all or none. Yes algorithmically means that Google has a filter that is automated. Yes Manually means Google does filter for keyword phrases, but a human does it. No, means, no, Google does not penalized in this way.

I'll vote but I won't tell you what my thoughts are until after I post the results.

Forum discussion at HighRankings Forum.

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: April 2, 2009



04/03/2009 01:24 pm

Yes. But not sure Manually or Algorithmically. We all know what happen to, what that the same filter for having too many links for a high value keyword and obviously ranking #1 and dominating the phrase?


04/03/2009 02:04 pm

Yep they do it and I'm pretty sure (from experience) it is done by both algorothim and manual checks.

Ammon Johns

04/04/2009 09:02 pm

It is algorithmic. The common factor you'll usually see to sites affected by this is cheap and spammy link-building, and the penalty will be for the primary key term they put into the spammy links. In the thread you mention at High Rankings, here's the important part: 2. Client hires a cheap SEO company and after a couple months, the term "Wholesale Watches" drops off all search results for Other search phrases are not affected or drop slightly. I have a couple of suspicions as to a more precise reason and rationale to the penalty. My primary suspicion is that this is a filter designed to combat Googlebombing. Detecting off-topic and unnjatural links and applying a counter-effect to the linked site ranking for the link-text term. So far, the only reliable way past this has seemed to be to build strong, topical, authority links for the term to overcome it.

Terry Van Horne

04/06/2009 05:21 pm

I agree with Ammon, it is about the links. I was watching one company mentioned for years. Too many low quality links with the same phrase. I also strongly felt this was partially the result of them hosting a lot of sites and linking to their site with the company name and that is part of the targeted phrases. This makes it harder rather than easier to thwart this. Whether it is part of a Googlebombing algo I don't know but it was before the "miserable failure" bomb resulted in the fix. I was concerned enough to remove links to my biz site from clients after seeing this was a "trend" among SEO companies that I felt was a good candidate for a filter/spam penalty. I also was afraid this was a component of the "SEO filter" that appeared around the Florida update. This just seemed like a very "risky" technique.


04/27/2009 02:48 am

What is immediate keyword repetitions and how can I remove them?


04/27/2009 02:49 am

What is immediate keyword repetitions and how can I remove them?

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