Hopefully you are not one of the businesses currently claiming that Google’s Penguin update has “ruined my business.” The recent algorithm update, which is unique in that it is by Google’s own admission designed NOT to improve search results quality but instead to penalize links obtained through dubious means, is a great reminder of how important it is to have a diverse and CLEAN link profile. Here are some key facts to keep in mind.
1. Don’t buy links. This is not a new truth that has emerged because of Penguin; you should not have been involved in link-buying for any reason in the past 5-7 years. But with Penguin, many of the sites that had been skating by without penalty have been slammed with a market correction that is costing them traffic and in turn dollars.
2. Avoid link swapping services and schemes. If you have a business partner (such as a distributor of your product), by all means feel free to exchange links with them. But don’t participate in link swapping sites that suddenly lead to your plumbing site serving up links to Joe’s Fly Fishing Emporium.
3. Focus your link-building efforts around CONTENT. Your best bet in having a link blessed by Google is to have it be within the context of content that is genuinely valuable and relevant to the site visitor. This is where having the ability to conceptualize compelling and useful content and being able to get it into the hands of bloggers and news sites is more valuable than ever. This is going to require more time, effort, and marketing ability than many of the more automated approaches to link-building than before, but the stakes and potential rewards of putting in that effort are greater now too.
If you don’t already have an editorial calendar that is designed to generate story ideas to push out to bloggers, news sites, and other relevant locations, get started on one now. Additionally, if you have a blog or news section of your site, start pushing more content out to it in hopes of having it picked up by other sites that will post links to you. Good content for these efforts include list and tip-focused content.
4. Mix up your anchor text. There’s no better way to raise a red flag to lead to a deeper Google investigation than to have 10,000 links point back to your site, all using a competitive category keyword (e.g. “best used car prices” for an auto dealer). There was certainly a time when I’d have counseled clients to have keyword-rich anchor text on inbound links whenever possible, but that’s no longer good advice
5. Diversify. Google’s been making significant adjustments to the way they credit links for a couple of months now, and you don’t know what signal might be devalued next. So by having your links come in from a number of different resources, you have a much better chance of weathering any storm.
Keep these tips in mind to avoid the wrath of the penguin and to keep your traffic flowing in consistently.