Since Panda and Penguin first exploded into the SEO scene earlier this year, the SEO scene has been abuzz with how to best deal with the array of new challenges that Google have thrown our way. I have been surprised at just some of the people that have been affected, with Penguin taking no prisoners if you fall foul of the confines in which it operates. In particular a number of platforms have seen a significant decline in popularity such as
- Article Marketing
- Directory Submissions
- Enterprise Level Link Networks
- Footer Links
- Links and Resource pages
It is not just the source that many of these links have been found on that has been affected. The new ‘Googlesphere’ has provided a framework in which new concepts and ideas can flourish and we have seen a number of new ventures such as Quaturo enter the marketplace offering a more content centric approach to SEO . This isn’t a new concept, certainly we have seen the likes of Rand Fishkin discussing the concept of Inbound Marketing for a while now – and one has to feel this is the way the marketplace is going now – and that can to a certain extent only be a good thing for the industry.
With the new landscape however has come a number of new approaches and adaptations to link building.
Quality over Quantity, Style over Scale
There used to be a day when I could rely on scale, and significant scale to produce the results I wanted. I used to do it – and I am pretty sure a far number of people who read this blog will have done too. Scaled SEO did work – and it didn’t have to be squeeky clean to be effective. There has though been a mindset change across many in the industry over recent month, that those days are dead, and modern day SEO has to take into account other significant factors. Site Authority, social amplification and the like all play a part in our modern day link building psyche – and the days of scaling low quality high volume link building are certainly numbered if not nearly extinct (although I would suggest not completely dead yet).
Where scale is concerned these days, its certainly not as link centric as it once was. Where scale can come into play is very much in a social context however one still has to balance a degree of authority when one considers scaling the social side of SEO.
Understand Anchor Text Distribution
I cannot emphasise enough how much I think this has and will continue to be a factor moving forward. The days of 80% exact match non-brand anchor text are dead – and the sooner SEO’s start adapting to this the better. I will caveat that with the fact that most good agencies have always used the blended ‘phrase match’ approach to link building – so much of this is not really a shock, however changes in April/May to the algorithm regarding anchor classifyers really did bring this to the fore.
Getting a good understanding of where your link profile is not particularly difficult these days particularly if you are reasonably adept at manipulating Excel. A simple overview of your target phrases within the profile will give you a good idea of whether your exact match targeting is getting towards a red flag scenario – and this is one area we have spent some time analysing in greater detail.
Building links using a high % of exact match anchor texts means you can expect to trigger both an unnatural links notice and in all likelihood set your site up for a possible Panda or Penguin data refresh slap.
With this in mind, make sure to vary your anchor texts by using a variation of techniques to maximise your link building activity. I like to compare much of the revised approach to moving from a exact match to a phrase match approach to link building – using your brand name, direct page specific URLs, qualified target phrase targeting and call to action based terms. I would however add I would be wary of overdoing the final aspect as many blogs have suggested as in my opinion such a manouvre done too quickly only raises yet further flags. Knowing what that profile looks like at all times imperative.
Next, keep the percentages within reason. Use a tool like Link Detective or Majestic SEO to import and analyze the breakdown of your site’s current anchor text distribution. If your top anchor texts (on highly specific exact match phrases) are showing more than 5-8% on-average of your backlink profile, I would suggest some remediation should be considered.
As I have said before, in my opinion Venice had one of the most underestimated impacts on SERPs here in the UK impacting on sectors as diverse as Law to Retail to Food. With Google increasingly tying much of the platforms together, we have to be aware of the role Local will play in our search campaigns moving forward particularly if local is a particular issue.
It should be noted at how few companies look local for links. Many don’t consider opportunities such as their local chamber of commerce, suppliers and customers. Other options such as local business events, sports teams, or contests are often overlooked or not exploited.
Further more local press is in decline – and many of these publications will readily accept good quality content for their sites. These opportunities are as natural a link as you can possibly get. Not only will they not trigger an unnatural link notice, but they improve your offline reputational profile as well. It’s win-win situation for all.
Get rid of the shit
Lets be honest, there are a lot of sites out there that had been heavily reliant on crap links. Yes they scaled well – however they were often built of bad foundations and if one actually had a serious long term view on them – you probably would have certainly used them in moderation.
In particular we have seen a lot of big networks fall foul of recent Google algorithms. Reliance on any single platform is stupid to say the least – no matter how well ‘built’ the network would appear to be. If you are an investor,would you hedge all your funds in one group of companies – no probably not – so why would you do it in SEO.
Much of Penguin/Panda would only serve to further accentuate that argument. One has to think like a serious investor when approaching link building post Panda/Penguin. Don’t be lazy – if I am being honest – you can include some lazy in there and get away with it – but don’t be reliant on it. Spread your risk – use a variety of partners and sources, and the likelihood that the recent escapees from the Google Zoo will come looking for you slowly decreases – and if so that slap is likely to be far less severe.
Get to grips with Guest Posting
With Google really pushing ideas such as Authorship – the guest post concept is something you should really be pushing as part of your any link building campaign. Old school article marketing is limited – and as a brand the ideal of using content marketing to push your brand is one many Marketing Manager’s will readily buy into – particularly if this can be used to compliment or co-incide with your social media activity.
Content writers are fairly abundant these days – and good ones at that. Sites such as myblogguest can be a good place to do so – however a quick look around Linkedin will normally bring you up a couple more (If your really struggling drop me a line). Getting the balance however with the content normally takes a bit of testing – however as a rule of thumb quality in my opinion here is fundamental to success as is the appropriate approach to potential sites. I own a number of sites, and I will readily admit any good quality content is readily received so what ever you do – don’t sell in rubbish and what you will find is that most webmasters will embrace content .
I can assure you that a single good guest post on a quality, niche-related blog with a link back to your website is worth 100 pre-Penguin/Panda article links. Scale that and you really are on your way to success.