Ever since Google did its Penguin 2.0 update back on May 22nd (2013), many sites have been scrambling to recover. In my opinion, this was one of the most significant algorithm changes to come down the pike in years because it changed some long-standing rules of SEO. And, one of those is linking practices.
How Backlinks Worked in the Past to Drive Traffic
Before Penguin 2.0, one of the “truisms” of search engine optimization writing was to make keywords your anchor text. When Penguin 2.0 hit, it did away with this SEO writing guideline to a large degree.
Now, we’re expected to vary anchor text, not use exact match anchor text and insert branded anchor text. And overusing a few keywords on your site can be seen as spam by Google.
Aaaarrrgggghhhhh! Enough to make you tear your hair out, right?
Just when you think you’ve gotten in a groove and can settle in to produce content that drives traffic, the rules change. As an SEO writer, let me tell ya, one thing to get used to with Google is that change is the only constant. So keep this front and center at all times in your online marketing efforts.
Recommended for YouWebcast: Why, What, and How to Do Social Selling
Speaking of change and links, following are three types of links Google doesn’t like.
Are You Using Any of These Linkbuilding Tactics? If So, Be Careful
1. Links from Press Releases: This change came after Penguin 2.0. Following is what Google thinks of these now – and why.
According to Google, press release distribution for SEO benefit is just another source of paid links. You pay for the distribution service, and the result is (was) SEO benefit. In fact, PR companies openly listed SEO among the benefits of using their service. As with other forms of paid linking, Google is devaluing these links now. [Source: SEO: Google Devalues another Link-building Tactic]
2. Backlinks from Sites You Control: If you have multiple sites and cross-link between them, you might be doing yourself a disservice.
For example, I have a main site on freelance writing (InkwellEditorial) where I discuss “all things freelance writing. Then, I have a sub-site of this site, where I just discuss SEO writing (SeoWritingJobs). Obviously, I cross-link a lot between these two. Makes sense, no?
Well, now apparently, I could be doing myself more harm than good. Following is what Google could think of this practice now.
Google search becoming more sophisticated with its calculations in recent years has greatly impacted how it uses backlinks as one of a couple hundred factors taken into account in determining search rankings. The result has been a seismic shift for many site owners and SEO consultants in how they approach link building. Those who made use of what Google search labels “link schemes,” have suddenly found themselves with a whole host of backlinks that are attracting penalties and raising havoc with their site rankings. [Source: Manage Link Risk to Help Recover Search Rankings]
In my opinion, this is one of the reasons Google pushes so hard to get people to set up Google+ Author accounts. It makes it easier to track your web properties. Now, I don’t think this was an overriding reason – but it certainly doesn’t hurt them in their efforts to keep track of you online, now does it?
3. Backlinks from Blog Comments and Forum Discussion Boards: Apparently, Google can view this as some type of link schemes, as referenced in the Search Engine Journal post linked to just above.
What to Do So You Don’t Have to Worry about Google’s Constantly Changing Rules
While “The Big G” does get a bad rap sometimes for its ever-changing algorithms, I tend to believe it’s for the greater good. After all, their business is built on returning relevant, informative content for web surfers. These changes – while cumbersome for us as webmasters – are meant to try to stay one step ahead of the spammers, schemers and scammers.
So if you produce great content and build a fervent, active community around it (social media, newsletters, constant blogging, YouTube videos, etc.), you won’t have to worry — so much — about what Google is doing.