Google’s ultimate goal has always been to provide users with a ‘better’ web experience.
That means when a user searches for something, the most trusted and relevant websites come up first in order to make their time on the web as easy and pain free as possible.
Google tries to makes sure everybody has a ‘good time’. Because what is Google all about? Having a good…….time, that’s right.
Some things that Google keeps an eye on when ranking sites, if a website is over-optimized and full of keyword stuffing, the user is gonna have a ‘bad time’.
- If a website is getting unnatural links like web directories, paid links and participating in private networks, the user is gonna have a ‘bad time’.
- If a website is using bad linkbuilding tactics like article spinning, comment spam and exact anchor text, the user is gonna have a ‘bad time’.
These black hat tactics were the reason for Google’s Penguin update.
Released in late April, this new update aimed to hamper the rankings of blogs and websites using these schemes. While this update may have seemed less aggressive and more adorable than Google’s Panda, it hit 3.1% of all search queries. Which may seem like a small amount but it has many SEO experts freaking out.
So how can you fix your mistakes or ensure this adorable little bird doesn’t come after you?
First, make sure that it was Penguin that actually caused the drop in rankings. Take a look through analytics and see if you see a drop in traffic around April 24. If you determine that Penguin is the one peeking at you, here are some things to consider when linkbuilding in the future.
Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
I’m a firm believer that you should look at yourself before blaming others. The links on your own site could be causing Penguin to ‘march’ all over you. Internal links are the easiest ones to optimize for the search engines, but also the easiest one to abuse.
Keep it simple.
Think of the user and not the search engine when selecting your anchor text. Is it really necessary to have that long-tailed keyword when something shorter would work just as well? Is there a reason you are linking one page to the next?
Avoid optimizing your site in order to gain links and keywords. Like I said before, the user is gonna have a ‘bad time’.
Instead focus on topical blog posts about certain categories or products in order to gain links, BUT make sure they are full of good quality content or another animal may be after you.
A Balanced Link Profile
In the past, everyone was seeking keyword heavy anchor text that linked back to their site. This thought was that the anchor text showed relevance and would help them move up in the search rankings. That thinking was all good and well, yet shows a very unbalanced profile in the eyes of Google.
To the point where it seems like you acquired those links in a fashion that would go against Google’s Guidelines.
To put it in simpler terms, let’s take the category page ‘Tote Bags’ from my company’s site, Blue Soda Promo. If 100 people were to randomly link to that page, we wouldn’t receive 100 links with the anchor text ‘tote bags’. People may use synonyms like canvas bags, reusable grocery bags or non-woven bags. They may put prefixes in front of the keyword like custom, promotional, printed or personalized. And others may even use anchor text that doesn’t describe the page at all, like ‘click here’ or ‘visit the site’.
There must be a balance between your anchor text. A set of keywords that have too much weight one way could be a way for Penguin to attack.
Remove ‘Bad’ Links
This can be tricky. While you may or may not have even got yourself into the mess, it’s what happens when you try and make one article into 10 by switching a word here or there for a few extra links.
If your site participated in article spinning, gained links from a massive amount of web directories or other spammy ‘Black Hat’ tactics, the quickest way to get back on Google’s good graces is to remove yourself from them.
Those sites are like the kids your parents didn’t really want you hanging out or dating. While at the time at may have been fun skipping class and other pointless shenanigans, detentions, groundings and arrests weren’t. Once they faded away from your life and you found a good group of friends, things got a lot easier.
Having a Good Time
Fixing your prior mistakes and prioritizing good content, resources and user experience over keywords, quick links and shady SEO is a sure fire way for long term success. These ‘White Hat’ ways build links naturally, help your site move up the SERP and gain traffic. All those things bring your site more money and what does money equal…..A GOOD TIME!