For the past 12 months it’s been Panda that SEO’s (and Webmasters) have been worried about. And just when their eyes were fixated on Panda, Penguin came along and gave them a crushing body blow, and many Websites got hurt in the rankings ala the initial Panda update from March 2011.
Some Websites saw terms that they had ranked on page 1 for fall completely out of the top 10, while many saw noticeable drops down to places where sites aren’t found: beyond page 3.
Two main themes came from the Penguin update, which Matt Cutts surprisingly articulated in a Google post (seems sort of contradictory to completely spell out what the supposedly secretive Algorithm is looking for, but we’ll leave that to another post).
1st – Lack of anchor text diversity living off of your site, ie links pointing back to you. The long-awaited over-optimization penalty may or may not be here, but it’s clear that it’s coming, and having a Website optimized for specific keyword terms and a link profile with too many of the same keyword terms living off of your site is not going to cut it anymore. It’s an easy target for penalty, and a loss of rankings and traffic is a likely consequence.
The solution to this problem is anchor text diversification. A natural backlink profile, which is what Google looks for, would never have ONLY links pointing to it with the same anchor text as the site itself. It’d have diversity, because real people use all sorts of words and phrases to describe a product or service, and would therefore describe your business in a variety of ways too.
2nd – The qualify and relevancy of links and sources. This sounds simple, but the strategies of yesteryear don’t carry as much weight anymore. A link on an authoritative blog / site, but one that is not relevant to your business, is no longer an asset. The Algorithm has minimized the value it attaches to these links now.
The solution is to get quality links from relevant sources, eg an article written about your brand on an authoritative site, and companies with these links will benefit most in the SERPs. Additionally, since these links will be positioned in front of your audience, it will likely lead to traffic and potential sales, which accentuates their value.
Many other changes can be found here, but keep a close eye on the top two as you proceed with your link building strategy. Algorithm updates are occurring more frequently than ever before, and the industry is fluid like the ocean. Large swells and waves might smack your business in the face, but you get up, adjust your approach to what works, and get back out there.
And if you don’t have the time to do this yourself, you call a trusted SEO firm to handle this piece of your marketing.