Organic Link Building Post Penguin

Penguin taking a leap of faith

With the Google Panda and Penguin algorithm updates there is a lot of question as to what is going to be an effective strategy for organic marketing moving forward. Let’s just clear this up right now. Links are more important than ever before – but the right kind of links.

It’s not about volume, it’s not about high PR, it’s not even just about quality – it’s about what appears to be the most natural OVERALL link strategy. What does this mean? Let me break it down for you:

  • Only all higher PR, authority links in your backlink index looks unnatural.
  • If no one is talking about your website socially, but lots of websites are linking to you, this looks unnatural.
  • If no one is reviewing your site, mentioning your business name, but linking to you with a “keyword” as the anchor text, this looks unnatural.
  • If too many people are linking to you with specific keywords that have higher search volume in your specific vertical, this looks unnatural.

Yes, Google has changed their algorithms – but people have changed the way they use the internet too. People live on Facebook, they share like crazy on Pinterest, they rant on Twitter, they comment on their favorite blogs… people are more social than ever before and they naturally share, link to, comment on and “like” what they see on their favorite sites.

You still need to have a solid keyword strategy. You still need to have a properly optimized website. You still need fresh, quality content. You still need to optimize your website for a great user experience. You still need to build a great navigation for better indexing. You still need to have a site that loads quickly…. You get my point…

BUT, without a good linking strategy, you shouldn’t expect any organic rankings with Google, Yahoo or Bing.

So now what?

Get links. But, get the “right links”.  Of course this requires strategic planning that can expert link building team that can properly execute the plan. However, here are some things you should consider:

  • Social - Google +, Facebook, Twitter, etc
  • Video - YouTube, Vimeo, etc
  • Dedicated Blogging - Links from “SEO Friendly” blogs that talk about you in their blog copy
  • High End Press Releases - Quality, newsworthy content – submitted to the RIGHT places
  • Local - Maps, directories, local business review sites, etc
  • Authority Websites – News sites, relevant sites in your industry that have trust with Google, etc

Of course you also have to consider HOW you place your links, not just WHERE. Too many anchor text links looks artificial. So, you have to focus on your brand, your website URL, reference links, business citations and variations of your root target phrases. If you already have too many links for any one keyword, you have probably already hit the radar and you should avoid getting more anchor text links in the future and focus primarily on your brand and variations of your website URL.

Lastly (but not least-ly *ha*)– consider link velocity. Sure, great content, announcements and website specials can create a bump in linking, but overall Google is looking at the link trends and if you have too many links coming in all at once followed by no links for a long time, this does look artificial. You want a link trend that can be trusted over time. Slow and steady wins the race here.

Looking for a post Penguin Marketing Package? Gimme a call: 800.871.4130 ex 1 – We have you covered.

Jenny Stradling

CEO SEO and SEM Strategist, social media girl, blogger, music lover, soul searcher. Collects: books, pictures, quotes, music, art, dreams...

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SEO: Post-Penguin Era Craves More Promotion than Content

Much confusion still abounds within the web-world as to how exactly the recent Google algorithm updates have affected rankings for established and new websites. While great debates over links, content, and keyword strategy still rage – often times contradicting from source to source – one marketing practice has remained virtually unaffected by the updates: promotion.

The bottom line of search engine optimization is, and always has been, increasing visibility. Many websites and pages’ rankings on Google’s search results immediately declined right after the algorithms had been updated. While their placing slipped on Google, placing remained virtually unchanged, or – in some cases – had risen higher on other engines such as Yahoo, Bing, etc.

Increased rankings on other search engines are always a good thing, though Google is still the most widely used search engine, by far.

There still is no 100% effective way of guaranteeing your site a high Google ranking, but promotion is a 100% effective way of gaining visibility to your site. Whether your content is informative, entertaining, or just simply “sought-after,” good content will draw-in traffic, if only it is properly promoted. Guest-blogging on other sites, advertising, social media interaction, and reaching into new forms of media are all very good forms of promotion.

As regular web-users become more savvy and comfortable with delving into new devices, hardware, and software; brands and companies also need to feel comfortable reaching into these media outlets. Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, and other apps/sites are virally becoming more and more popular. With their growing popularity, comes a necessity for businesses and websites to acquire an understanding of and familiarity with these products.

Though promotion within these various sites and applications is a growing necessity, maintaining and creating new and relevant promotional content in numerous locations is requiring more and more time, making it a full-time job for not only one person, but a staff of dozens.

This need for promotion management is boosting business and requiring more employees for marketing and SEO firms alike. While marketing and advertisement agencies had been hit hard by the move from print to web promotion in the past, businesses that embrace classic promotion tactics and implement them into new forms of technology have a wealth of opportunities ahead of them.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same,” was quoted by Alphonse Karr in the 19th Century, but as we are reaching further into the 21st Century, the quote is still relevant. While big changes are afoot within the online community, adaptation and promotion continue to produce great results that allow your brand and company to remain visible, successful, and profitable.

Zachary Ankeny

After attaining my Associates Degree in Visual communications in 2000, I set off on a long career as a freelance writer and graphic designer. I have designed and headed many marketing campaigns for companies big and small all around the country. It is my belief that graphic design and writing go hand-in-hand, as they are both forms of communication. My non-fiction works have been published in dozens of magazines and publications. I have written for – and worked with – organizations such as: Banner Hospitals, The Jerome Historical Society, The Arizona Historical Society, City of Tempe, City of Bakersfield, Town of Gilbert, Wildhorse Ranch Rescue, Cynic Magazine, e|Fiction Magazine, and many more. Writing and designing is my passion and I look forward to continuing on with it for many years to come.

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A Roundup: Google Panda and Penguin Algorithm Updates and What To Do Next!

I have been reading and reading and reading until I thought my mind would explode. About what? The Google Panda and Penguin algorithm updates of course! So, rather than bombard you with 100 plus good blog posts to read, I thought I would recap my findings and share some personal thoughts…

Wondering what the heck am I talking about?

Read on…. It looks long, but I’ll make it worth your time.

What is an algorithm update?

When you use Google to search for something on the web, you are basically asking Google to serve you up the best, most relevant information on the subject you are searching for. When you use Google Search, your results are pulled from the algorithm Google created to calculate which web pages should be served up based off of relevancy and quality criteria.

Every so often Google updates their algorithm which changes the way they evaluate websites and calculate where these sites should rank organically in the search engine result pages (SERPs).

What is the Google Panda update?

The Google Panda update was first released in February 2011. The update aimed to lower the ranking of “low quality sites” and in turn raise the rankings of higher quality sites. It was said to only affect 12% of all search results, but as Panda 2 and 3 (I think we are at 3.3 now?) rolled out even more tweaks, many website across the web have been significantly impacted by this update.

So Google Panda targeted LOW QUALITY websites.

So, what does this mean to you?

Google used human quality testers who rated websites based on measures of quality including: design, trustworthiness, speed and even whether or not they would return to the website…. If you had a lot of ads on your pages, your content was lacking, your design was outdated or not user friendly – your site may have been flagged as “low quality” and therefore hit by THE PANDA.

However, as mentioned in a previous Panda and Penguin post by Kirstin Douglas here – just because your site lost some rankings doesn’t mean your site was penalized! Many, many other sites across the web were hit – particularly blog networks. If your backlink index contained links from these sources, they could have been hit and you are simply suffering from the loss in backlinks.

What is the Google Penguin update?

The Google Penguin update was first called the “over optimization filter” by Matt Cutts, then the webspam algorithm before finally being formally named the Penguin Update by Google. This update was first thought to be yet another version of Panda – but now we know it is its own animal (hardy har, I know). Having only rolled out this month (April 2012) there is still a lot of speculation as to what exactly this update impacts.

What we do know? Google Penguin targeted SPAM and OVER OPTIMIZATION (via what they consider “spammy”).

So, what does this mean to you?

If your rankings dropped this month, forget Panda – you might have been hit by THE PENGUIN! Unlike Panda, Google did release a list of questions that webmasters should ask themselves in order to ensure they are following the Google quality guidelines.

This awesome post from Webpronews lists them verbatim along with some additional thoughts for the areas that are still pretty grey:

There are 8 “specific guidelines”. They are (verbatim):

1. Avoid hidden text or hidden links.

2. Don’t use cloaking or sneaky redirects.

3. Don’t send automated queries to Google.

4. Don’t load pages with irrelevant keywords.

5. Don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.

6. Don’t create pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware.

7. Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines, or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.

8. If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site adds value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.

Some of them are more black and white than others. For example, avoiding hidden text or hidden links seems like a pretty obvious thing. Just don’t do it. The duplicate content one is a little different. What does Google consider “substantially duplicate content”? How much is too much?

Beyond the specific guidelines, Google also lists 4 “basic principles”. These are:

1. Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines. Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as “cloaking.”

2. Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”

3. Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.

4. Don’t use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our Terms of Service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold™ that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google.

Google provides plenty more guidelines and elaboration on the quality guidelines in its help center.

Of course, none of this is new. It’s just that now Google has a better way to enforce them (or at least, it hopes it does).

END quote from


So, now what?

Run out and remove low quality links? Get rid of keyword stuffing and bad content? If I “fix” everything list above Google will automatically rank me again, right? Maybe… maybe not. Google has made a TON of algorithm changes in the last few months and they don’t appear to be stopping any time soon. Besides, do you know if you were hit by Panda or Penguin or hey, maybe you were one of the ones hit by the Google mistake parked domain classifier issue… ?

Of course you should do your best to follow the Google quality guidelines and PLEASE don’t use black hat spam (and if you were still using black hat spammy techniques, such as cloaking, you kinda deserve to be penalized, just sayin). AND, clearly make your website a great, quality site built for your USERS with awesome content (images, videos, design, function, speed, etc).

There is HOPE, keep reading…

No, SEO isn’t dead. Yes, there are still effective marketing techniques to get your site found again.

If you have been hit by Panda/Penguin, even if you have done everything you can do fix the issues – don’t expect to see your lost rankings recover over night. Google has come right out and said that the penalties are the effects of an algorithm change – so even if a human looked at your site, it takes spiders (not humans) to bring the rankings back up again. The best advice I can give is to be patient, carefully evaluate your current standings and make educated decisions. Getting too excited and making a ton of changes can create other issues. If your site is quality and deserves rankings – it CAN rank again. KEEP IN MIND, if you were marketing your site via SEO techniques before, your marketing is likely what helped you achieve your rankings in the first place. So, if you fix your issues you may no longer be “penalized” but that doesn’t mean you will rank again without continuing to market your website.

Don’t have time to wait for rankings to change?

Not sure what to do next?

Give us a call at 800-871-4130.

We are happy to do a discount website audit for anyone recently hit and help you come up with a strategic plan to get your site in order, diversify your long term marketing plans and help you supplement your organic traffic loss with other marketing techniques while we work on fixing your website issues.

Remember, Google is only ONE way to get traffic to your website…

Jenny Stradling

CEO SEO and SEM Strategist, social media girl, blogger, music lover, soul searcher. Collects: books, pictures, quotes, music, art, dreams...

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