Each year, a new Google penalty seems to rear its ugly head. Sometimes, it comes in the form of a true “penalty” that punishes your site for violations of Google’s stated policies. Examples include guestbook spamming and buying paid links without the nofollow tag. Other times, the penalty comes in the form of an algorithm change. A recent example was the Panda (or Farmer) update that knocked the wind out of several high-ranking sites. With so many possible missteps, it’s hard to know which approach to take when optimizing your online press releases.
In today’s post, we’re going to take a closer look at one of the newer search penalties that has actually been around for years. It’s called BLOOP, or the backlink over-optimization penalty. It has a direct impact on how your website ranks in Google. We’ll show you how to write and distribute your PRs to avoid falling into its trap.
The Google BLOOP Explained
First, like with most things related to its algorithms, Google plays its cards very close to its chest. You’re unlikely to find Matt Cutts or anyone else associated with the company speaking directly about BLOOP, or how to avoid it. Cutts occasionally provides insights into creating content that ranks well, but his comments are usually pretty vague (for good reason, since people would otherwise try to “game” the system).
Having said that, a lot of search data have pointed to two factors that can hurt your site in Google’s search listings. The first one is the growth of your inbound link profile. If it grows too quickly, it will appear unnatural, which is the exact opposite of what Google wants.
For example, suppose you have a site about dog training called “Dog-Gone Bad Manners.” By writing guest blog posts and submitting articles to a few online directories, you’re able to build 5 links to your site each day. Now suppose that your site suddenly gains 5,000 links during the course of a week. It appears unnatural to Google. It looks to them as if you’re trying to “game” their algorithm. There’s a good chance your site will get BLOOPed.
The second factor involves the anchor text you use in your backlinks. Suppose your dog training site has 5,000 links pointing to it, each of which says “Fort Worth TX dog training.” To Google, there is no way that level of consistency would happen naturally. If folks were linking to your site in a natural way, some of your links would probably have the following anchors:
- dog training classes
- this site help me get my dog to stop eating my house
- Dog-Gone Bad Manners
- puppy training site
- click here (yes, “click here”)
So, what might happen to your site if you over-optimize the anchors you use in your online press releases? Right. Your site could get BLOOPed.
Aack! I’ve Been Penalized or Am Afraid I Might Be… Now What?
If you’ve been penalized or are afraid you might, it’s time to start building backlinks in different types of related yet natural terms other than the five you’re trying to optimize for. Get a look at your link profile by entering your URL on Backlink Watch or Blue Backlinks. The goal is for the anchor text column not to appear completely homogeneous. There’s nothing wrong with having anchor text in your target keyword, but you need to mix it up in a way that looks and feels natural.
Don’t Worry About Specific Penalties (Nor Their Silly Names)
Getting caught over-optimizing your press release backlinks – building too many too fast or using too-similar anchor text – may hurt your site. Or, it may not. Nothing is guaranteed, and your results will differ from everyone else’s. That’s one of the frustrating truisms about SEO.
Here’s a better approach: forget about the penalties, including BLOOP.
Think of your online press release distribution as part of your long-term marketing strategy. Publish news announcements on a regular basis to prevent a massive, one-time influx of links. Also, you probably have a list of target keywords that you want to rank your site for. If you’re using that list for the anchors in your press releases, you’ll naturally avoid using the same anchor in every link. In other words, you’ll avoid being BLOOPed without even thinking about it.
“Going Natural” With Your Press Release Optimization
Optimizing your press releases will improve the way they rank in Google and the other search engines. That much is clear. So, continue to put your main keyword in the title, and sprinkle a couple of your secondary keywords throughout the body text. Also, use good anchors for your links. But beyond that, realize that Google wants to see things progress naturally. Don’t try to game their algorithm. Cloaking pages, building doorways, spamming guestbooks, building IP-related networks, and using 302 redirects will cause more harm than good over the long run.
According to Wikipedia, the word “bloop” (not the acronym we’ve been talking about) is “The Bloop is the name given to an ultra-low frequency and extremely powerful underwater sound detected by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1997. The source of the sound remains unknown.” You can have a look at a spectrogram of a bloop an hear what a bloop sounds like here. (I just thought that was too interesting not to share!)
What types of Google shenanigans have you or someone you know tried to make work, but had dismal long-term results?