Google recently changed the way search results are ranked with the release of its “Penguin” Algorithm Update. (Google has a practice of giving it’s algorithm updates clever names so they can be categorized and discussed.) This update may or may not have affected your website rankings, but in case there has been a negative effect, we want you to know what has changed and why. This update is Google’s latest effort to combat “over-optimization” and link spam.
There are essentially two types of links, Natural and Artificial (described below). If you have been optimizing your site, and have focused on user experience, creating custom content and marketing that content, you are probably fine. If, on the other hand, you have been creating or buying links to your site that might seem unnatural, out of place or have limited value to the user, you may experience a dip in rankings.
Google considers a link the same as a “vote”. The sites that receive the most “votes” should rank higher, based on the value to the end user. When Google audits your link profile (the websites that link back to your website) it analyzes the quantity, quality, and relevance of those links, how quickly the links were acquired, and the anchor text (the clickable words) used by the linking website. When Google’s algorithm detects an imbalance or unnatural profile, it raises a red flag.
The link profile seems to be a common theme for websites affected by the Penguin Update. Here are 4 types of Artificial Links that could negatively affect your Google Rank:
1. Article marketing sites (ezinearticles.com, buzzle.com) : Keyword dense, surface content submitted to several sites is viewed as a low-value practice.
2. Comment spam: There is nothing wrong with commenting on relevant content about relevant topics, unless your only intent was to generate a link to your site.
3. Guest posts on questionable sites: Guest posts are a legitimate way to earn links to your site. Issues arise from low quality websites with spammy content or little relevance to a niche.
4. Paid text links using exact match anchor text: This practice is against Google’s guidelines. They view paid links as a tool to manipulate rank, rather than to provide any value.
All these “rules” have existed for some time, Google has simply adapted its algorithm to clean up their rankings and attempt to provide a better user experience.
If your website is performing as before and you aren’t experiencing a lapse in traffic, just keep this update in mind as you move forward promoting your website. If you have any questions about this update, any affect it could have (or has had) on your site, or how to “Google Proof” your website, please feel free to contact us for a complete site audit.