Elevated Search Blog

Homepage Penalized By Google? – We Have A Solution

03, Oct, 2012 - Written by in Penalties, Penguin Update

Let’s go back 3 years ago to 2010 and see what was happening:

  • Conan’s last Tonight Show aired
  • Apple unveiled the iPad
  • New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl
  • Tiger Woods apologized
  • Corey Haim died
  • BP oil well exploded

What was also happening 3 years ago?

Many ill advised website owners and poor SEOs were building 1,000’s of links to their websites with the exact term they wanted to rank for.  Let’s not forget that THIS WAS A COMMON PRACTICE. Like any other SEO tactic, many chose to abuse this ranking factor.

Fast forward to today. We live in a post-penguin world. What does that mean?



With the roll out of Google’s penguin update on May 25, 2012, many of those same website owners and SEOs that built too many exact match links, woke up one morning to find their websites penalized by Google. What was common practice 3 years ago no longer worked. Hell, if you told me three years ago that removing links can improve my website’s rankings I would have laughed at you.

Remove Links

As many of you know, removing a link-based penalty can be difficult:

  • link removal request
  • anchor text de-optimization
  • re-inclusion request
  • and the list goes on.

Nowadays, most link-based penalties will be URL and keyword specific. You will find evidence of this when you see a URL over-optimized for a particular keyword, that used to rank for that keyword, disappear past the first 10 pages in the search results. (Come talk to me if you want specifics.)

One tactic that is being discussed to combat link based penalties is to 404 the page that has the link penalty. This is a great tactic, and it works, but are the website owners that built all of their links to their homepage supposed to do? You can’t 404 your home page!

Don’t worry, I have a better solution.

The Discovery

I discovered this solution before Google rolled out their Penguin Update. Shocked?  Well don’t be! Any SEO worth a grain of salt knew about over optimization anchor text penalties before Google Penguin was released. However, these penalties were not as noticeable because Google would only drop your website ranking 10 to 20 positions. (You could be ranking #3 then the next day #13). No matter how many quality links you built, you could never crack the top 10 in Google again. I thought it was pretty clever because many people kept building links upon links and spinning their wheels.

The Solution

It’s really not all that ground breaking. Simply change your homepage keyword target to a new or existing internal page, then de-optimize /  re-optimize your homepage for new unrelated keyword targets.

Penguin Update Solution

For example, say your homepage was ranking for the term “Car Title Loans”, then it got penalized. What you would do is move the keyword target of “Car Title Loans” to a new or existing internal page. Then change the keyword target of your home page to “Loans For Bad Credit”.

What this strategy tells Google is that your homepage is no longer relevant for that given keyword and now the new or existing internal page is more relevant. With some high quality link building to back up this new correlation, you will notice Google shift the rankings for the once penalized keyword to the new URL. Now the ranking will not come back as strong, but it gives you a clean, non-penalized URL to work with. Now just be careful not to get this new URL penalized!

If you have questions or comments feel free to drop them below!

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About Steve Peron

Steve Peron is one of the co-founders of Elevated Search, an elite team of SEO professionals based in San Diego. Steve has over 8 years of experience in Search Engine Optimization, specializing in on-page optimization, link building, outreach and CRO (conversion rate optimization).

5 Comments for this entry

  • Dan Redman

    I’m vomiting. Great, so exact match is no longer relevant? What a stupid waste of time/money SEO is.

    • Steve Peron

      It’s not that it is no longer relevant, it is that you have to diversify your anchor text.

      It looks way too unnatural if someone only ever links to your site with the same anchor text.

      Try using exact match 1/3 of the time, partial match 1/3 of the time, and branded match 1/3 of the time.

  • Miguel

    OMG, this is TOO weird. I developed this strategy and am currently working it with a current client of mine. We built a new internal page optimized for conversion and targeted to the old main term that the homepage ranked for. Results not there yet as its a hyper competitive term.

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