Whether you have just one site or many sites, you most likely got hit by Google’s most recent update… Penguin.
As far as what’s happened to my own sites, the results are very mixed. The one thing that has been consistent is that a lot of my inner pages from larger websites all experienced drops in rankings.
I’ve read a lot of blog posts a lot of forum posts and a lot of other information on this latest penguin update, and while nobody knows for sure exactly what’s going on and how to deal with it, there are some common denominators that people have figured out.
I myself am not an SEO master over the last few years I’ve learned enough about SEO and getting websites ranked to be able to earn a decent income but after this penguin update there really aren’t any SEO grandmasters.
So, I’m just going to go down the list of any discoveries, hints, tips, tricks, or other relevant information that might be helpful going forward.
Back Linking After Penguin and Any Other Tips or Tricks I Know Of
Internal linking on your site is something that doesn’t get much attention, but seems like is becoming more and more important. Without attempting to BS my way through an explanation, what makes sense to me is that it does at least two things: 1) it keeps your visitors on your site longer and helps increase your average number of page views which helps your “Google stats”, and 2) it let’s Google see that you link to other pages on your site instead of just a bunch of outgoing affiliate links.
The latest version of WordPress makes it really easy to go through your pages and quickly build links to other pages:
Probably a good rule of thumb is to have more internal links per page than affiliate links.
“Dofollow” Links and Nofollow Links
First of all there aren’t any links actually labeled “dofollow”… I remember thinking I was a genius back in the day by looking at the page source scanning for “dofollow” and never finding any… there are just regular links and then links labeled ‘nofollow’.
I read an interesting idea/theory that seems to be completely accurate… After Penguin, Amazon.com’s results are even more powerful than before, and this theory I read said that even though people think ‘nofollow’ links don’t matter or aren’t ‘counted’ by Google, the evidence suggests otherwise. Then he pointed out that with Amazon’s affiliate program, Amazon has got thousands of people to build millions and millions of back links to their site and individual product pages, and that’s the reason why their product pages rank at the top for every conceivable keyword.
The other thing to keep in mind is that if you use a bunch of different paid link building services, most(or all) of your backlinks will be ‘dofollow’ links, which looks incredibly unnatural to Google. Your link profile should include both types of links.
“Spammy” Back Links and “Negative SEO”
There’s a lot of irony going around… especially from the supposed SEO Gurus. The first part of this comes from Matt Cutts telling us that your site’s rankings can’t be hurt from a competitor pointing thousands of crappy back links overnight at your site. Then on the other hand, Google is handing out penalties for “unnatural” back links, and the gurus are telling everyone not to join “spammy” link networks.
The problems are obvious: If Google does penalize sites for “unnatural” back links, then “negative SEO” is definitely possible… meaning a competitor can knock your site off or get it penalized.
What should you do about this… I have no idea. I point this out merely to illustrate that Google search is perpetuating problems for itself by allowing this to happen, but I don’t have a proposed solution.
Varying Your Anchor Text
This is one part of the Penguin update that everyone agrees on… If you built all your backlinks with your keywords in the anchor text without any variation- or just a little variation, then your site got hammered.
Moving forward, you need to vary your anchor text to include phrases that are loosely relevant and even flat out generic.
For example, if your main keyword is “dog training”, then build links with keywords like: dog articles, pet advice, pet tips, click here, visit our site, check out this article… etc.
Shoot for your main keywords to make up less than 50% of your anchor text as you build back links.
Web 2.0 Sites and Authority Domains Getting All the Rankings
If you want to absolutely geek-out on this stuff, you can read Jonathan Leger’s full post here… One of the main takeaways from this post and thread I’ve read on his forum is that authority domains are getting higher preference in the SERPs even with little to no back links. Sites such as:
- WordPress.com Blogs
- Yahoo Answers
So… it seems that you can use the “buffer site” back linking method to kill two birds with one stone: Link back to your main site like normal from these buffer sites, but add some affiliate links as well since these might end up outranking your site for a while.
According to Pat Flynn’s latest income report, he built a site following his “backlinking strategy that works” while he hired a service that claimed to replicate the process only faster, and after 3 months both sites were getting similar results, but when Penguin hit the site Pat had done manually stuck in its rankings and wasn’t hit, but the site the hired company did disappeared from the SERPs.
That’s pretty telling, and is great to know… if that method withstood Penguin, that’s amazing since even a lot of authority sites that were completely white-hat were hammered.
I do also want to point out that Joseph Archibald is the guy behind the “buffer site” back linking method, and this method is more relevant than ever.
Take It Easy(easier) for a While
Slow your roll and don’t try to build back links as fast, and remember to vary your anchor text. Unique Article Wizard has even changed their daily recommended submissions from 25 to just 5, so you might even want to set it to 1 or 2.
And yes, I’m still using UAW and overall, it still does what it says it does.
Conclusion, and What to Do Now
Going forward there are a few key things to do and/or keep in mind.
Diversify your traffic: Go out and try to figure out other traffic methods and put SEO on the back burner. Figure out getting traffic from Youtube, article syndication, tutorial sites, forum marketing, blog commenting… there’s a bunch of stuff.
Ironically, the more traffic streams you get coming into your site, the better your site will do in Google’s organic rankings.
Experiment and Research: Use whatever SEO tools you have to look at competitor’s backlinking profile and anchor text profile to see what they’re doing and to get a feel for what type of sites are ranking for particular keywords. Here’s a tip… you can do most of this with Market Samurai.
For example, enter a new keyword and then click on the “SEO Competition” module:
Then, click on ‘Generate Results’, and you’ll see the results, and I want you to notice the little down-pointing arrows next to each result:
If you click on one of those arrows you’ll see this:
Clicking on the ‘AC Rank Analysis’ will show you where they’re getting their back links, and clicking on ‘Anchor Text Analysis’ will show you a breakdown of the anchor text in the back links pointing to their site:
This is very valuable info if you’re trying to rank for these keywords. By the way- researching the top 10 results for a given keyword and analyzing what they’re doing and why will always be the best way to figure out any update.
One Method Per Site: This is a solid, common-sense idea I picked up from Chris Rempel’s blog post: If you have the means, set up as many sites as you can and experiment with one back linking method per site. The idea is to profit from diversification and a ‘safety net’ of many small sites.
That’s it… What do you think about all this? Please share this post and leave a comment below.