Were you on the first page of Google last year and suddenly fell off in January? Your website may be one of the casualties of the Google Penguin algorithm. The rumor mill’s rumbling that another Penguin update may be on the horizon. Others feel it’s a constant likened to the Panda updates that happen monthly. One of the best explanations of the Google Penguin penalties was done by Noble Samurai in their Beat the Penguin checklist. They do a beautiful job explaining the Penguin update, what it is and what it’s trying to achieve.
What Do Links Have to Do with Penguin?
A link is a url directing readers/customers back to your desired website. Before Penguin, many internet businesses used back-links (links going back to your website) to help with ranking in the search engines. It used to be the more relevant links you had going back to your website, the higher Google would rank you. Soon, link farms were developed selling links to different websites. People went crazy with it and started linking to irrelevant sites – a big no-no for internet marketing.
As Noble Samurai points out, there were several ways businesses built link strategies: Guest blogging, commenting on other people’s blogs, press releases and building squidoo lenses and hub pages.
Over time, the links would increase and often your page would rank higher. NOW… you need to be very careful about the links you build and how they impact your ranking. The nature of your link network can actually damage your rankings.
Link patterns that can harm you:
There are 3 kinds of links that the Penguin update focuses on:
1) Brand Links – These are links that mention your website url, product name or company name in link anchor text.
2) Target Links – these links are specific keyword phrases you’re trying to target in search engines. (Using the example in Noble Samurai’s awesome video, a press release using your keyword phrase “learn to play chess.”)
3) Generic Links – These don’t specify a website, it’s just a generic term such as: “Click here to read some tips on playing chess.”
Too many target links can cause your site to be kicked out completely. The ratio that’s being kicked around the marketplace is if it’s over 50% target links, put a fork in you – you’re done; you ‘ll be hit by penguin.
Target links less than 30% – you’re okay.
Yes, change stinks – I agree. Quite frankly, I won’t go so far as to say ALL links are BAD – however, I believe the ratios are what you need to pay attention to. Just like the battle that rages about keywords – some camps are saying they’re not relevant anymore. My opinion is if they weren’t relevant, why would Google Adwords’ bid price be based upon the keywords, quality score and page relevance? How would customers find “Annie Sloan Chalk Paint” in your shopping cart without typing in the right keywords? Oh, yeah… that’s another blog post I feel coming on…
The WORST thing you could do is start deleting your blogs or walking away from your online business altogether. The BEST thing you can do is take a deep breath, review your strategies and look at what you need to change. You can’t do the dishes if you can’t see the dirt. If you need help walking through all of this, I’m happy to step you through it with the Got Clicks Tweak. I’m a good dish washer.