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Return of the Killer Penguin
As some of you may be aware, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s anti-spam team, has recently stated that the next Penguin update is “weeks away”.
Dubbed ‘Penguin 2.0′, some webmasters and website owners have already felt a pre-tremor as Google hit paid link sellers and link networks in what was most likely Google testing the new update over the last few days.
The wording Cutts uses to describe the forthcoming update as “significant” and “one of the most talked about updates so far” gives an indication that this latest update will cause a stir of similar proportions to last year’s Penguin update, when many sites utilising underhanded link building techniques disappeared from the search results.
As webmasters and SEO companies focussed on removal of the links which had caused penalties using the disavow link tool and performed manual resubmissions, speculation was abound that Google were collating this data to identify ‘bad neighbourhoods’ of links which had previously been so effective in driving top rankings. Utilising this data would now allow Google to be much more intelligent and efficient in knowing what bad links look like, where they reside and how they work (or shortly don’t work) and build a picture of ownership or association.
How trustworthy your link is will also be of significant interest to Google – trust is all to do with how close your links fall in line with what Google considers a good neighbourhood, it’s almost like living in the right postcode – and how closely affiliated you are with the glowing beacons of the Web (how many of your links are high-quality from trusted sites) will dictate how protected your site is from the looming flippers of Penguin.
Parameters which should be considered when analysing links include:
- Is your link from a bad neighbourhood (e.g. pornographic)?
- Is your link from a site which was designed purely for SEO purposes?
- Does your link originate from a site which is totally irrelevant to your own?
Any links which fall into the above categories should be removed using Google’s disavow link tool – see here for more info on this.
Link building is now more than ever about quality over quantity and a smart SEO strategy should always encompass:
- Mixing up your keyword anchor text only links titles (e.g. “Web Design and SEO from Fluid Creativity” rather than “Web Design” or “Fluid Creativity).
- High quality editorial links, and links that appear ‘natural’ rather than built for the purposes of SEO.
- Maintaining a ‘natural’ link profile, with links from a variety of sources of varying quality (to create the illusion of being completely ‘organic’). The ratio between ‘brand’ and ‘keyword’ anchor text should weighted in favour of brand, with ‘junk’ text like ‘click here’ factored in.
- Researching top performing competitors in search to discover strong link sources.
- Not placing links in the text of a comment on a blog posts or comment off-topic simply to create a link – maintain relevance.
- Avoiding trading or exchanging links with sites that have no relevance to your business.
- Keeping selected social bookmarks up to date in order to create a strong impact for search engines and to help to build social communities around your brand.
We at Fluid consider this latest update to be a positive and one that ultimately will benefit our own SEO and that of our clients. As the black hat driven sites fall down the rankings, inevitably the sites which have taken an ethical and natural approach to SEO will benefit from improved positioning.