We’re more than a month into seeing the effects of Google’s Penguin Update. Hopefully you’re one of the many webmasters who have breathed a sigh of relief with each Google Analytics log-in. But if you’re not, you should have started the humbling journey to recovery by now. Of the many on-site black hat activities that can trigger a punch from the Penguin, we’ve observed that unnatural links are fairly high up there. Google makes it very clear that link quantity and quality play a major role in how a particular website ranks in its search engine results pages. When obtained naturally, a website’s inbound links will vary in anchor text and time of acquisition. When this isn’t the case, Google raises a giant eyebrow and begins to further investigate the legitimacy of a website’s link profile. Link building can sometimes get a bum rap because it is a proactive approach of acquiring links. Google never intended for the “Linkerati” to divide and conquer as it has a but the link building techniques we recommend involve no monetary incentives; rather, we suggest offering up an informative white paper or an original guest post that displays your expertise and serves a purpose.
Penguin’s link building pet peeves:
It shouldn’t be too difficult to tell whether or not your link building tactics are penalty-worthy or not, but below we have listed out a few examples in case you have been previously misled by black or gray hat SEOs. Link buying: When companies want to rank for a specific term, they might pay sites to link to their site using that keyword or phrase as anchor text. This qualifies as search engine manipulation and can result in major punishment, even de-indexation, from the Goog. Links from content farms: If your website is receiving inbound links from article-dominant sites like About.com or eHow.com, Google will probably suspect fishy activity. The majority of the pages on these sites consist of weak, unhelpful content that is primarily composed for the purpose of linking. Guest posts on low-quality sites: Guest posting is a fantastic way to volunteer your brand’s expertise to a relevant site’s blog. More often than not, you’ll get a link back to a certain page on your site in return for the favor. That’s how it works. Comment spamming: It’s difficult for us to fathom that this even exists still a and yet, it most absolutely does. Google really doesn’t like you to self promote your own website via the comment section of another’s blog. That’s just not cool. It’s frustrating to other users and especially to said site’s webmaster(s). If you or a past SEO have pursued this tactic, you should strongly consider changing your game plan. Link-saturated footers: This is often a resourceful location to insert links back to the main navigation points on your site (Home, About Us, Careers, etc.). When you start to stuff it with keyword-heavy links that are rarely clicked, it becomes apparent to Google that you are trying to manipulate its algorithm.
So what is good link building again?
Here’s our basic rule of thumb: if link building is easy, you’re doing it wrong. So what’s the right way? Start by solving a problem. Then reach out to authoritative websites with the solution. They’ll be glad they heard from you. Make it as easy as possible for them to showcase your white paper, infographic, etc. by asking them to add your content to their resource section. Write a press release and distribute it! Sharing company news through trusted sources is a great way to potentially reap high quality links and rank for terms. Just make sure you limit the links and anchor text. Always, always vary the wording so that it sounds natural. Spread your expertise. Guest posting is good. It is encouraged. It allows webmasters to upload fresh content that they didn’t have to write. It shows readers that a website’s blog is interesting enough to attract guest writers, and that additional perspective adds value to the blog.
But wait… there’s more!
Before you dive too deeply into a link building project, you should get into the habit of reaching out only to websites that will truly benefit yours. Do this by using software like SEOmoz Open Site Explorer to verify the Domain or Page Authority of a particular site, as well as which domains it links to. If it has an unsettling amount of outbound links, that’s a bad sign, as the link juice will be diluted (and not be a very strong signal to the search engines). Check for duplicate content by quickly searching exact sentences in quotations. If multiple pages or websites appear in the SERPs for identical content, you should move on to the next contender. Link building, while it may not be the most exciting SEO tactic we know of, can certainly be the most rewarding. It forces you to critically assess your own site, work to make it better, reach out to form relationships, and reap the benefits in the form of tasty link juice. Are you as pumped up as I am? On the count of three, let’s all throw our white hats into the sky and shout “huzzah!”