If you’ve been affected by Google’s latest major algorithm update (Penguin 2.0), chances are you (or your SEO contractor) were doing things that Google considers dark grey or black hat.
We’ve compiled a few ‘best practice’ tactics to help you dig yourself out of that hole and ensure that you hopefully don’t get stung with future updates.
Google Penguin 2.0
Link Building Strategies
The penguin algorithm focuses heavily on where your links are coming from and how relevant they are to the content on your site. It could be dangerous if you have links pointing to your site from ‘spammy’, ‘link-farmy’ type places where links may have possibly been paid for.
If you’ve had an SEO company working on your link building and you’ve been affected negatively by this algorithm update, you may want to consider looking for another SEO provider. Before you do though, there are a few things to consider.
1. Have any of my inbound links been paid for?
Google frowns heavily on links that have been paid for so try to steer clear of this tactic.
2. Is there content surrounding my external links and is it relevant to my website?
Google takes notice of the neighborhood your links are in and the company they keep. If they are in a ‘bad’ neighborhood and have a lot of non-relevant links surrounding them, they will most likely harming your SEO efforts. (one tactic some dark grey/black hat SEO ‘professionals’ use is to buy domains that have already accrued decent PR and to use these as templated link farms that are neither good for any visitor or Google).
Make sure your links have accurate, informative and relevant content surrounding them.
3. Do my links come from a variety of different sources?
There are a multitude of different types of sites out there where you can acquire links from. If you focus all your energy on only a couple of them (such as blog comments and directories), chances are you won’t have much success improving your rankings.
Social Media, Social Bookmarking, Press Releases, Articles, Blog Posts, Forums, Directories, Personal Blogs, Guest Blogging – these are just a few different types of places links can be acquired – remember to spread them around.
5. Is the anchor text used for my keywords being varied enough (too much exact match is not good)?
Overuse of Exact Match and over-optimised anchor text is seen as ‘spammy’ in Google’s eyes. Try to use variations of your keywords as anchor text in order to keep Google’s spam filter from being flagged due to your links.
6. Are my links surrounded by other non-relevant links(possibly to porn and game sites)?
Referring to the link farms mentioned above in point 2, the links surrounding your links are taken into account when Google is analysing how much weight your link should be given. If the surrounding links are non-relevant (worse case; porn or gaming site links), any weight those links may have contributed to your site is most likely to have been stripped by either the first Penguin update or this new Penguin 2.0 update.
Try to keep your links in good, relevant neighborhoods with good, relevant surrounding content.
7. Do any of my links come from advertorials or sponsored posts?
An advertorial is a post paid for by an advertiser and a sponsored post is a post in which somebody pays a blogger to cover a certain topic on their blog. Paying for links in this way is frowned upon by Google if it isn’t clearly stated that a post is an advertorial or sponsored. Either way, Google will not pass weight through from these posts if they discover they have been paid for.
8. Are there site-wide links to my site from others (site-wide meaning every page on a domain such as a footer or blog-roll)
When links appear that go offsite and are not relevant to anything on the actual website they appear on, this can trip Google’s spam filters. Many SEO companies use their personal website footer as a mini link farm where they link to their client’s websites and try to pass on link juice. This is a bad practice for a couple of reasons.
9. Are there any inbound links from de-indexed sites?
If a website has been de-indexed by Google, chances are they were participating in less-than-savory link building tactics. Try to get any links you may have from de-indexed sites removed as soon as possible or, as a last resort, use Google’s Disavow tool (explained below).
10. Is the content around my inbound links legible (has the surrounding content been ‘spun’)?
A tactic used for many years that doesn’t work so well these days is article spinning. This is where an article can be ‘spun’ using software that replaces content in the articles with synonyms and ‘like’ words so that the articles has the same message but is seen by Google as completely different content – multiple articles can be spun from a single article.
Google is a bit smarter these days and the algorithm can pick up on this type of content. Another downside to article spinning is the legibility of the articles that get produced – most of the time they are extremely difficult to read and serve absolutely no purpose to the reader whatsoever. Considerations to take into account when creating content for any link building strategy are:
1. Is the content relevant to my offering?
2. Will this make sense to a human audience?
3. Will my audience find this content valuable?
What Can I Do If I Can’t Get Some Of My Bad Links Removed?
If you’ve unsuccessfully tried to get your links removed by contacting webmasters directly, you should consider using Google’s Disavow tool. This is a method of telling Google which links to your website you want them to ignore.
To Sum It Up
Any good SEO company will document where all the backlinks they have created have been placed. If you suspect your SEO company may have been placing links in some bad neighborhoods, ask them for the report on where exactly your links have been placed pointing to your website.
If they aren’t forthcoming with this information, chances are they have something to hide and it’s probably time to look elsewhere.