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Backlinking in The Post-Panda & Penguin Google World

Link building is a driving force in gaining a popular page ranking in Google search results. It can mean success or failure for any small business online—especially one that is only online. By backlinking—or creating inbound links—a website becomes a higher and more prominent presence in search query results. However, in the past two years Google has rolled out a set of updates to curb manipulation of this common search engine optimization (SEO) practice.

The first update to hit the Google-sphere was Google Panda in February of 2011. This change to their algorithm targeted websites that provided a poor user experience. There were a number of factors determining this from over use of ad space, poor and low quality content, and excessive use of irrelevant links. Many websites saw their Google ranking drop because of this. Following Panda came Google Penguin in April of 2012. Penguin targeted black hat link tactics and spamdexing—the deliberate manipulation of a search engine index to return spam search results.

In a study by Portent Inc., a Seattle based Internet marketing company, titled “A Changing Standard For SEO Spam: Google Penguin Link Penalties & Declining Leniency” they found “that Google was applying a stricter standard over time. In the initial Penguin update, the only sites we saw penalized had link profiles comprised of more than 80 percent manipulative links. Within two months, Google lowered the bar to 65 percent. Then in October 2012, the net got much wider. Google began automatically and manually penalizing sites with 50 percent manipulative links.” Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team, announced on May 10th that an update to Penguin was weeks away, and will most likely bring even stricter requirements for meeting Google’s acceptable practices.

Steps to Protect Yourself and Link Build Successfully

Since Google is tightening the threshold for what they deem to be a positive user experience and beneficial links, it may be time to analyze your own SEO practices. Take a look at the back end of your website, and research where all the links to your site are coming from. Although websites deemed unacceptable by Google will be penalized, you will also be found guilty by association. When assessing if you’re in good link building standing there are a few things to watch out for.

Low quality blogs: Is your website being linked from a blog with a poor user experience? Google will identity these blogs as spam, and penalize your site as a result. This is not to say that blogs without a lot of traffic fall into this category, or someone still getting the hang of blogging, but if the blog contains articles about a bunch of random topics, and are purely a hub for links it’ll fit into this category.

Article directories and link lists: Google considers these spam because their only purpose is to boost page rankings. Again, if the directory or list is specialized and is a helpful resource for guiding people to relevant topics of interest it won’t affect you, but it’s best to be cautious.

Portent points out in their study that gaining authority in search ranking and links are “the outcome of good marketing”, and shouldn’t be the approach used to gain a marketable presence. With that in mind, make sure all of your links that direct people to your site are relevant, and that your SEO success isn’t the result of “link bombing”. There’s no reason to have your website connected to a site that people feel is shady because people will only remember you as something to avoid. Furthermore, you’ll be penalized, and may not even show up in results at all. Using accepted SEO tactics, identify markets that would have a genuine interest in your website. Once one reputable source has linked to your page others may follow, creating a snowball effect. Furthermore, crafting valuable guest posts or other content for a website that you want to link to you is another great approach.

Link building is all about positively building your reputation on the web, and elevating your status in relevant search results. By manipulating the process, you not only damage your website’s reputation, but also run the risk of having no presence at all—which from a marketing standpoint is tantamount to death.

Portent study: http://static.portent.com/images/2013/03/google-declining-spam-tolerance.pdf

About the author:

Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet. Her mission is to help consumers stay financially savvy, and save some money with the best savings account.

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31 Responses so far.

  1. More information about google updates,Thanks for sharing

  2. Some good points raised here. Google has warned of a further update to their algorithm in the coming weeks and months so expect more changes to your search rankings.

  3. Hi sir! That was a very neat explanation on the Backlinking criteria and how it has to be dealt with. I feel that to get quality backlinks, it always a good option to do “Guest blogging” and we may even consider writing good articles on sites like hubspot etc!

  4. I can still get good ranking in google.com SERP by get backlinks from forum profiles, social bookmarking sites, rss feeds, blog comments.

    I like having backlink SOP with this traditional methods. It works for me and I believe that it will work for you too.

  5. James says:

    I hope this new google search engine update turn out good for all.

  6. Alex says:

    Hi Peter,

    Basically there are two methods of getting backlinks: one is the most acclaimed organic and natural one, where the other websites editors place your link because you deserve by your valuable content and secondly are those manipulated links made by the webmaster himself. There is a thin line between spam manipulated links and marketing manipulated links. Me, as a webmaster I try to place my links in places where there is the potential to promote my website subject (so the SEO “effort” comes as naturally).

  7. Davis Lee says:

    Back linking still plays very important role in seo but after the Panda and Penguin updates, it has become very crucial to create quality and spam free back links.

  8. Panda 2.0 that recently came out will further build on these things. Spam links will create more and more bad goodwill for your website.

  9. DJ Huren says:

    Backlinking will be always important, Google will be judging bad and low quality backlinks in the new update. Just follow the rules of Google and you will be fine.

  10. I noticed a dramatic drop in links when panda was released. Most of these were forum profile links and similar. Just goes to show that black hat techniques might work in the short term but Google will eventually filter out these links and possibly penalise your website.

  11. What the new Penguin 2.0 os designed to do is to weed out the bad neighborhood links. What are bad neighborhood links you ask? Well they are mostly used by offshore SEO companies and blackhat SEO experts. As long as you are smart about the links you are getting you will be fine. But one very important tip. Make sure you do not have too many of one type of anchor text. It should be the following guidelines: 40% brand name (company name, url, etc) 40% Generic ( website, click here, etc.) and only 20% of your back links should be keyword specific.

  12. Tim N. says:

    Gone are the days you could post a short, pointless comment on a seldom-read blog, and hope to have it count for something. Besides a relevant and useful comment, the blog post subject should have at least some relevance to your website that you’re backlinking to, if possible. You need to mix it up a bit though, as well as have a few no-follow links thrown in.

  13. well i saw one more thing in google results that website having links from other websites where it is falling under domain matching are being given good ranking in serp but most of the others denying this fact that domain match is important or not. still a debatable issue

  14. himanshu says:

    Oh sure Peter i realized last year that link building should be done cautiously because the time Google saw it unauthorized somehow not valuable you are gonna definitely hit heard by the search engine Google.

  15. Paul says:

    Hey Peter, thanks a lot for sharing the tips to save your website. I think we all are in great need of tips like these. I am worried about the good sites which are helpful for the users. Google is not being lineant at all in penalizing bulk sites.

  16. James says:

    Hi Peter, I agree that Google has made stringent rules regarding backlinking in the past couple of years. However I support Google because the user experience we have now is way higher than what we had then. This is solely because people are scared of Google and are not taking recourse to unfair means.

  17. Bitts says:

    The question now is that, what strategy to use in order to get the links that are as easy and equivalent to the ones got by submitting articles on directories.
    It is becoming increasingly difficult to get good back links these days.

  18. Quality of the link that matters.
    Google considers the content of the sites to determine the quality of a link. When inbound links to your site come from other sites, and those sites have content related to your site, such links are considered more important to your site. If inbound links are found on sites with unrelated content, they are considered less important. The higher the importance of inbound links, the greater their quality.
    Google handles with not only the popularity of the sites being linked to, but also how trustworthy a site is.

  19. from the very first back to the last one backlink only quality link matters if you have good and quality backlinks you can easily get good results in Google… so make less backlinks but make good one…

  20. Splashsys says:

    Nice blog, it is very informative and helpful for me , I am always ready to read informative and interesting blogs, thanks

  21. Peter Lee, your shared steps are very keen and effective to protect any website and its Link-Build strategy successfully. I personally think that now a days content has vital role in SEO. If anyone has low quality content on his/her website or submitting low quality content on article directories than definitely it can destroy his/her website rapidly.

    • Jon Klokov says:

      Yes, I agree. Content is king, and it definitely allows you to stand out and beat out competitors when their content is poorly written garbage compared to grammatically correct site pages, blog posts, etc.

  22. Link building is a strategy that most web masters, that I know, are taking very serious, lately. Your steps are very well outlined and detailed. It’s great that people like you are sharing their knowledge in this area. Thank you very much for your newly imparted wisdom ;-)

  23. Sandy says:

    Thanks for sharing more about the ever-changing world of seo pr in Google-land. Now that content is king, the field of play re: link building will become more level imo. Do you agree? Also, do you foresee safe automation tools being created to help decrease the amount of manual labor in link building?

  24. Now google become mature,and google update its algo regarding to content or backlink via penguin or panda.
    So creating unique and fresh content with good PR backlink help us.

  25. Jon Klokov says:

    Article directories haven’t worked in years, haven’t they? Still, sounds like the best way to do SEO is the honest way. Original work, original content, and natural links seems to be sustainable and will hopefully continue to beat Google’s constant updates and changes.

  26. atkı says:

    Thanks for sharing more about the ever-changing world of seo pr in Google-land. :)

  27. quality matters in every field and penguin and panda assuring it

  28. suryabhan says:

    after the panda and penguin updates you don’t have to create only backlinks but you must have to take care about the quality and spam free backlinks.

  29. kazi says:

    Thanks for sharing this useful information . I thought SEO was dead. Well, it is half dead but it still lives.

  30. Hossam says:

    ” Kazi ” Seo is not dead nor half dead , it is alive and will be alive .. it is evolving to the better and Google is being strict only because of the blackhat users they insist on cheating on the system for there own interests ..

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