Link Building in the Post-Penguin Era (2013 & Beyond)
EVERGREEN, COLORADO – In the ever-changing (or ever-evolving) world of Google SEO, the typical SEO practitioner is challenged every day. Even today, the SEO of a website or blog very much revolves around links. But the way you used to build links has changed. As a modern-day webmaster, you need to strictly abide by the Google webmaster guidelines in the post-Penguin era.
I’m sure you have heard about Google’s Penguin.
If you haven’t, Google’s Penguin algorithm is a recently launched search ranking algorithm that’s developed to combat link spam. It keeps a close watch on sites that try to manipulate search rankings by indulging in a link scheme. A site that builds their backlinks profile by acquiring links the unnatural way will quickly get penalized through a Google Penguin update.
“Some good businesses have taken major financial losses as a result of the infamous Google Penguin Penalty. Estimates suggest that costs to big box retailers and enterprise e-commerce companies could easily hit $5 million per month in lost natural search revenue. Smaller businesses facing such penalties could end up ruined, having to close their doors,” says Paul Bruemmer of PB Communications.
From Penguin 1.0 (released in April 2012) to Penguin 2.0 (launched in May this year), Google’s Penguin algorithm has come a long way. Penguin 2.0, as Matt Cutts explains, is the next generation of Penguin’s webspam algorithm that fights link spam in a more efficient and robust way. And you can be sure that Google stays its course in fine-tuning these standards even more.
Long Live Link Building!
Many webmasters have a feeling that link building is dead, which isn’t true at all. All that the launch of Google Penguin update means is that building links for a site has become more competitive.
In case you too think that link building is alive no more, you should take a quick look at the backlinks profile of a few websites that rank at the top of SERPs in your niche. If these websites rank at the top, it’s because they have a solid and natural backlinks profile (apart from top quality content).
Link building is alive and kicking. However, you need to take your link building steps with care. You need to navigate this key area of SEO with a view to ranking organically without getting penalized.
The Very First Step – A Link Audit
Before you delve deep into the ways of link building in the post-Penguin era, you need to conduct a link audit of your website. Without evaluating the present backlinks status of your website, you will never get yourself on track while trying to build Penguin-friendly links and take your website’s rankings to the top of the search engine results pages.
A link audit is the process of collecting your website’s link data, analyzing it and giving it a good spring-cleaning. Links that originate from link networks, site-wide links, unrelated links and paid links have to be removed immediately. If you are unaware of the different types of bad links that could do potential harm to the search rankings of a website, here’s a list you can refer to.
To successfully perform a link audit of your website, you may need to use different types of free and paid SEO tools. Google Webmaster Tools provides you with an option to download the list of latest links for free. But there are many other non-Google tools that you can use to complete the audit.
Building Links That are Penguin-Friendly
After you have given your website’s existing backlinks profile a good spring-cleaning, it’s time to make it more robust by consistently building Penguin-friendly links so that you can improve the SEO of your website quickly.
Here are some important tips –
Get Relevant – Avoid building links outside of your niche. This is the first rule that you need to follow in the post-Penguin era of Google. Though this is pure common sense, it was quite uncommon to find it applied. From now on, however, you need to ensure that all links pointing back to your website are relevant.
Focus on Quality – In order to avoid a Penguin update penalty, you should start worrying about the quality of links rather than the quantity of links. If your competitor’s website has 5,000 low-quality links, you can quickly outrank them with 500 high-quality links.
Say ‘No’ to Automation – Post-Penguin, it’s also important to get rid of any automated link building techniques you were using. The best quality links come from people. So, you should start building genuine relationships with webmasters, web property owners and fellow-bloggers. Always remember, more relationships translate to more unsolicited links.
Quit Anchor Text Obsession – The money-keyword will bring you no money anymore. It’s about time you quit obsessing over anchor text or the money keyword. The more diversity the anchor text in your links contain, the more natural your website’s link profile will appear.
Create Diversity – If you have 100 links pointing back to your domain from a single website out of 200 or 300 backlinks that your site has, there’s a complete lack of diversity. You shouldn’t create too many links from a single website. Instead you should create many different backlinks from many different websites while being niche-relevant.
Think Authority – While building links for your website in the post-Penguin era, you should also pay careful attention to the quality of the link source. Evaluate the authority of a website on the basis of its content quality, consistency of updates, traffic stats, and number of social shares and PR among others.
“Each link that you build is a vote in your website’s favor. Make sure your voters are authoritative,” says Ali Husayni, CEO at Sinai Marketing.
Produce Valuable Content – By featuring top-quality content on your website, you’ll actually strike two birds with one stone. On the one hand, creating stellar content will generate quality links for your website unasked. On the other hand, it will safeguard your website against Google’s Panda algorithm.
In order to keep your link building efforts on track, you’ll also need to keep a close watch on the progress you make. Depending on your resources, you may decide to run a link audit of your website every 3-4 months. This will ensure you keep your site’s backlinks profile neat and clean while reducing the chances of becoming a victim of negative SEO done by your rivals.
Is your website’s link building campaign Penguin-friendly? Please share your thoughts, opinions and experiences in the comments.