Congratulations to everyone who survived Penguin 2.0!
All of our websites fared well. We saw the normal jostling of rankings, up a few here, down a couple there. Nothing earth-shattering. If you DID see something traumatic to YOUR website, what happened? We’ll be the likely thousandth to tell you, but if you HAVEN’T heard any of it yet… You or your SEO company probably has gone a little too far to the dark side with their SEO work. And we don’t necessarily mean “blackhat” – of course, that term is even a bit questionable itself. According to the Google TOS, pretty much ANYTHING you do to affect your rankings is strictly taboo. Really, Google?
The Penguin 2.0 update was focused on a few things but a couple have risen to the top. Google is very secretive about what they target, so there is no definitive answer on exactly what happened or why. But there are a few items that have appeared that will affect a site with Penguin 2.0:
- Poor quality links
- Excessive money words in links
Poor quality Links
What is a poor quality link? Simply it is a link from either a place that Google dismisses as either trash, containing unuseful content, or a known link farm type of setup. Even worse, links from sites that are not indexed by Google.
All links are NOT created equal. Getting a link to your website from a well-known site is a bonus! Google appreciates that and will reward you nicely. However, if you link from a homegrown, “This is my cat site” with exactly .003 visitors per day and the last posting was in late 2006, mmmm… you’re not going to get a whole lot of love. And if your whole link profile seems to be comprised primarily of cat sites such as described, you may actually get penalized. There is some confusion about whether this would be more of a penalty or just a lack of love from Google. Either way, if your primary source of links to your site is from very low traffic, low interest sites, it won’t do you any good and may hurt you. One of these days, I’ll share what “negative SEO” is. If you want to learn if YOUR site has been affected by this or other problematic issues, learn more at our Raleigh SEO page.
How to deal with it?
Don’t spend your time working on a lot of crappy links from someplace you’ve never heard of before. Get yourself listed in good local directories. Try to get links from sites that have a PR 1 or higher. PR is at least acknowledged by Google, but isn’t going to share a whole lot of love since they’re not getting much at this point anyway.
MAY hurt you?
As a bit of explanation… I’m careful to always say “may”. Google will never tell you exactly what they’re looking for either good or bad. It’s impossible to know exactly what they will penalize or reward you for. We DO know our own results so we CAN say, it DOES help to have good quality links from a lot of different places. If you want to know more than that, call us. And one day, I’ll share my thoughts on what Google DOES tell you…
Excessive Money Words – Over-optimized links
Now, the BIG screaming thing in this last update seems to be a focus on over-optimized usage of keywords in links. Now I’ll be the first to admit, I *can* get a bit heavy-handed when it comes to making sure the search engines know what a page is about, however… there are specifically places where you do NOT want to get too specific – or repetitive. And your backlinks are one of them. Ask us about “footprints” as far as your SEO strategies are concerned.
When it comes to linking to your webpages, you don’t want to go overboard with those laser-targeted keywords. As a matter of recent fact, LESS is actually more. In the last year or so, Google has been frowning a bit upon what they call “unnatural link building”. Google expects that links will be built naturally by visitors and people who like your site. And they will link to it using a variety of terms – “Cool site in Apex”, “Blue widgets”, “Shopping – widgets” – or as part of a sentence as in, “Find out more here” or “get more info”. What they do NOT expect as “natural” is when EVERY link says, “2 inch square blue wooden widget with beautifully beveled edges.” It does sound a bit contrived, doesn’t it? And these will always be “money words” – those terms for which you really DO want people to find you. Seems silly, yes? It is. But that’s another blog.
Fly Under the Radar
Anyway, if you’re going to be helping yourself, it’s best to NOT send google a telegram about it. We want to fly under the radar. The sweet percent right now seems to be NO higher than a mid 20% of keywords and the rest of your links being generic words or naked urls. I personally have had great results keeping it around the 10% mark with an occasional 20%. Sort of like, “blue widgets”, “widget store”, “cool shop”, “find out more”, “get more ino”, “http://ourstore.com”, “Our Store”, “click here”, etc. We’ve run several dilution campaigns for sites to help offset heavily optimized keywords. Don’t let a strong footprint tag you in Google’s eyes.
Putting it into Practice
When you do your own linking to your page(s), you want to keep things natural looking. When you link in Facebook or elsewhere, you don’t want every link to be “Raleigh Auto Insurance”. Change it up and use it in different ways. If you do social bookmarking on your sites to get them indexed, or tweeting your site url (very effective to get found), change it up. If every link is about “2 inch square blue wooden widgets with beautifully beveled edges”, Big G is gonna get ya.
Got more questions? Call us.