Have you noticed a significant change to your website’s search engine placement of late? If so, it could very well be attributed to the recent Penguin update by Google. In a nutshell, this is another update designed to further reduce the amount spammy websites that appear on the search result pages. Does this mean that if your site was affected that it’s considered spam? No, not entirely. But what it may signal is that the links from other sites that are pointing to yours may in fact be of a questionable nature… at least in the eyes of Google’s new algorithm.
One of the leading indicators for page rank is backlinks. And the links that point to your site is called your link profile. This might consist of a very few or several thousand. The more quality links that point to your website, the better your chances of improving its placement. With the Penguin update, it seems that the sites that are used to facilitate these links have now come under tighter scrutiny.
It has always been Google’s policy to reward natural backlinks and to discount, or even penalize your site for those that are not. And like the usually unenforced law that states it’s illegal to spit on the sidewalk, this policy has now been promoted to a more severe status. So while its always been a ubiquitous practice with minimal consequence, the new course sets out to change this.
Here’s what we believe are the causes and some solutions.
Bad Neighbors – Links from sites with “bad” reputations, such as those with malware, numerous pop-ups, cloaked pages, etc., will have severe repercussions to your backlink profile.
Paid Links – To help increase ranking for a particular keyword, a link is purchased using the keyword as the anchor-text. The anchor-text is the actual word used as the link. Using paid links has always been against Google’s guidelines, so in this case the solution is to remove these from your link profile.
Guest Posts – This is and has always been an acceptable practice. In fact, it’s still one of the most effective techniques for building good backlinks. It consists of writing a good quality article on a relevant topic with a few backlinks. The potential problem this now creates with the Penguin update is that the site used for the quest post is under the same scrutiny. So if its determined to be a site whose purpose is to provide backlinks more than to provide real useful information, the detriments can flow back to you via the link you worked so hard to establish. The same is true for the flipside. If those who post on your site provide good articles, but whose backlinks point to low-quality sites, your site will be deemed an attributor. The solution is to request backlinks from questionable sites be removed and to more closely evaluate the backlinks contained in your quest posts.
Article Sites – These have been around a long time, and up until Google’s last Panda update, have always been a regular part of many SEO’s arsenals. The Panda update which was recently refresh on April 19th demoted backlinks from most of these while the Penguin update has furthered this policy. The solution is to remove these in lieu of quality guest posts.
Comment Spam – Anyone with a WordPress site should be very familiar with this tactic. It links within the comment signatures that use exact keywords that point back to the target site. The solution to this is stop doing it. Unfortunately, these may not be so easily removed since they reside in active and archived blog posts of other’s web properties.
Again, none of this is new. This has been Google’s link scheming policy since the beginning.
Here is a must-read book about the Google Panada Update