In a nutshell, the Penguin algorithm update was introduced by Google in order to look for spam or low quality websites and then degrade them; giving priority to well branded websites that promote good original content. The main problem impacting most webmasters with regards to this update are low quality links or link schemes. According to Google, link schemes are links that have been sought for the sole purpose to get better rankings in Google.
Doing SEO in 2012 and beyond
1. Stop Using Paid Links/Public Blog Networks
Google has long been using links as a popularity factor to help determine the relevantly and authority of websites. So they don't like it when we build these links for ourselves. Therefore, they have been penalising people for doing that. Gone are the days when you can sign up for a paid blog network, write up an article with some targeted keywords and syndicating that article to get rankings. Google has already penalised some of the popular networks during the Google Panda update to discourage people from syndicating content with specific anchor texts.
2. Varying Anchor Text Variations
This technique was one of the biggest factors in Google enforcing the Penguin update to penalise webmasters trying to use exact match anchor text (e.g. "Cheap Car Rentals Brisbane") to eventually rank for that particular keyword in the SERPs. Anchor texts links sitting in footers or blogroll links are likely to be penalised. Therefore, if you are planning on keyword research, try to use different variations of anchor text in your backlink strategy and don't forget to include long tail keywords to vary the backlinks even more. Another important rule of thumb is to use branded terms in your anchor texts such as your company or product names as it is only natural for Google to think people tend to search for branded terms if they are popular.
3. Don't Buy Exact Match Domains
Buying keyword rich domains (for example "GoldCoastCheapRenovators.com.au") worked like a charm for local search results before the Penguin update but it is highly advisable to ignore this technique now. Hear it from the Oracle of Google, Matt Cutts (The Head of Anti-Spam team in Google) has to say with regards to Exact Match Domain(EMD). With this confirmation, we can conclude that EMDs are not going to be effective anymore, but what is another way to gain traffic in localised results? Experimenting with PPC advertising in both Google Adwords and Facebook can be a great revenue model if it is setup correctly with highy optimised landing page.
4. Embrace Social Signals and Metrics
With the growing domination of user centered search, social signals are clearly the way to go for future SEO efforts. Focus on providing best information on what your customers want and put social sharing buttons to allow your visitors to share it in a natural way. By doing this, your content gets viral attention and natural backlinks pointing to your website.
5. Embark on a Holistic SEO Approach
I would strongly recommend that webmasters not only focus on getting backlinks but also pay attention to analytics and performance of websites. Install Google analytics and monitor important metrics such as bounce rates, duration of visitors time, loading times and other key elements to get an idea of how websites are performing. Google is looking into these metrics to establish the type of user experience users are receiving.
I hope that the above information has given you an idea of what to expect from Google in the coming months and the kind of approaches you should be looking at to build a more brandable website and focus on writing content that is share worthy. For those who got affected by the Penguin update and are trying to clean your backlinks, here is an update from Google where they have introduced a new "Disavow Link" tool to help webmaster to clean up their backlinks from spammy directories and link schemes.
If you have any questions regarding Google Penguin update or would like more information on Search Engine Optimisation, please feel free to contact our team on 07 5538 3060.
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