First we had Panda, and recently Google implemented its little brother: The Penguin. The Google Penguin update shook up the SEO world, and whether you are someone who targets micro niches or goes after the heavyweights, we all felt its effects. This update was Google’s way to reward legitimate or white hat SEO practices, so webmasters who followed healthy SEO practices benefited. Whereas Panda focused more on content quality and keyword density, Penguin focused on backlinks and their overall quality.
Backlinks To Avoid
This update from Google has pulled the rug out from under many sites, because rankings were lost overnight. Some of the sites that were hit hardest included article marketing sites and content mills, but even other sites with ‘questionable’ backlinks were penalized. Paid links were also penalized, especially those with anchor phrases that exactly matched search terms, think BMR (Build My Rank). Comment spam was another type of backlink the Google Penguin update targeted, and many webmasters who used comment spamming software, such as Scrapebox, were penalized heavily.
Other ‘targeted’ backlinks included those from guest posts or articles on non-authority sites and also those from dangerous sites. Dangerous sites include those that are known as malicious sites, or those that install software or collect data without the user’s permission.
In short, these are the backlinks you should avoid:
- Links from non-authority sites
- Links from spammy content mills or article marketing sites
- Paid backlinks with exact anchor text
- Comment spam
- Links from malicious or dangerous sites
It is easy to see how the Google Penguin update was created to target automated link building. When someone uses link-building software, they have very little control over the sites they target, and spammy, low quality links are bound to find their way into the mix, somehow.
Post Penguin Link Building
Whether you are targeting a micro niche, or you are going after one of the mainstream keyword phrases, white hat SEO practices will be the way to go. It is becoming harder than ever before to get high quality and high authority links, and with Google’s increasing demands, webmasters may soon find themselves jumping through even more hoops to please the search engines. You would want to do guest posts on authority sites, or find ways to attract editorial-type posts where your site is mentioned. Doing this means having quality content, and finding legitimate ways to draw attention to your site and your content.
Backlinks from content mills or article marketing sites seem to be on the way out, and it is easy to see why. Just about anyone, who can string a sentence together, can manage to slap up a dozen or more articles on most of these article marketing directories. It is no wonder Google decided to target those backlinks. The key, it seems, is getting your link out there where most webmasters will not manage to, and that means making a name for yourself in your chosen niche. You will have to become a trusted name or authority within your niche if you want these elite linkbuilding opportunities.
Comment spam is soon going to be something of the past as well, and instead of building hundreds of low quality links with spun comments, it may be time to focus on high-ranking sites that are closely related to your own niche. Lets say, for instance, you have a site about dog training: You would want to comment on other related sites (dog training, pet health, etc) that are already authorities in the field, and better yet, you would want to find ways to do guest posts for those sites to gain credibility. If you do comment, and leave your site link, always take a close look at the quality of the site you are commenting on. Its backlinks may even affect how your own site is reflected once Google refreshes their updates again.
It seems that the SEO game is becoming harder with each passing Google update, but on one hand it is a good thing. Webmasters who play by the rules, are sure to see the results. The downside is that many of us may have to resort to linkbuilding using authority sites or pay to receive targeted traffic to our sites. At this stage, I believe SEO still works, but I am concerned that it will not in the future. Whatever the outcome, Google updates are sure to keep us on our toes and with the constantly-evolving landscape out there, we will have no choice but to evolve and learn if we hope to stay in the game.