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What Does The Google Penguin Update Mean For Link Building

We have been asked a lot recently about how the latest Google update will effect websites and SEO. One of the things the newest algorithm update looks at is your backlink profile.

If your, or your client’s website, has seen a noticeable drop in traffic it could be the quality of your backlink profile that is causing the problem. ‘Link building’ has changed a lot over the past 5 years and Google is keeping a close eye on it.

A bad backlink profile (left) compared to a good one.

A bad backlink profile (left) compared to a good one.

What are Penguin’s Objectives?

The main aim of the recent update is to target web spam and poor quality content. If your company’s website has seen a dramatic drop in traffic recently, there is a strong chance the new update could be the answer.  

In some cases, the website in question could have a penalty issued to it by Google’s Web Spam Team. Working out if your website has been hit by a penalty can be done in a number of ways, but the most common is by looking at Google Webmaster Tools.  Other software you could use to assess your websites backlinks, and the quality of them, include:

  • Open Site Explorer
  • Ahrefs (Paid)
  • MajesticSEO (Paid)
  • SEMrush (Paid)

By looking into your backlink profile you will be able to distinguish which websites link to yours and which ones do not follow Google’s Guidelines, which could be influencing your rankings and your traffic. If you find a list of websites that look low quality or could be having a negative effect on your SEO campaign, you can disavow them through Google Webmaster Tools.

What we have found over the last 12 months is that the two most common types of Google penalties are ‘Partial Match Penalties’ and ‘Site-Wide Penalties’. These are explained below.  

Partial Match Penalty

A ‘Partial Match Penalty’ is a penalty for a single page or section of a website because of the low quality, or large amount, of the links pointing at that page or section. This could be because of the amount of links using the keyword or “money term” as the Anchor Text to that page. 

Site-Wide Penalty

Site-wide links found in the footer of every page of a website, either external or internal, can be detrimental to your Google organic rankings. A penalty across the whole website because of site-wide links with a lot of keyword-rich anchor text.

In the past, using these SEO techniques were simple to do and worked, but as Google advances it is hitting spam a lot harder. Something Google is trying to promote by making these changes is that quality links should be earnt and not bought.

Some people did, and still do, use “spammy” techniques but Google is getting better at finding these, which is why we promote good quality online marketing and SEO for our clients from day one.

To avoid being penalised by Google, it is important that you avoid certain techniques. Some of the things you should consider include:

  • Buying links from well-known ‘Link Networks’ – These are often a number of sites that are all set on the same IP Address.
  • Using too much keyword-rich anchor text – Over-spamming keywords and using them more than any other terms or your brand name.
  • Thin content – Lack of quality or lack of word count can be deemed as thin content and should be avoided on and off-site.

Unfortunately though, when trying to recover from an update, results are not always instant and can take some time.

If you have any other questions about your backlink profile and ways to improve it, or if you need to recover from a Google penalty, contact one of our experts at Varn today.