By the time the Panda and Penguin updates from Google had been rolled out the internet changed almost instantly, and although my niche sites suffered dramatically as a result (as did my income) the simple fact is that these changes were for the better.
Now no one really knows for sure what the new algorithms actually were but it was easy to see just by looking at the aftermath what the point was, that being to make the internet cleaner and easier to navigate. Basically it was a cull of spam, and this was in both a content and backlink sense.
Post Panda & Penguin Content
The idea of the updates was to rid the web of crappy substandard content – that is, Spun content and low quality articles that provided no real value to the readers but were there only to add value to the backlink profile of the offender, I mean the webmaster 😉
The onus now is on quality content that delivers value to both readers and the internet as a whole and this is evidenced by the fact that all the sites that were not affected contained genuinely insightful information and articles that actually provided the answers to the questions being asked in search.
Beat the Panda & Penguin and Win on 2 Levels
If you want to rank your site in this post panda/penguin Google world then you need to produce content that actually adds value. This goes without saying but now that social media is such an integral part of the web, producing this good content can be more worthwhile than you think.
When you write a genuinely good piece of content and optimise it for the search engines you not only put yourself in the best possible position to rank high in the search engines and get lots of organic traffic, you also give yourself the benefit of attracting the attention of other webmasters who may reference your article and share it within their own social circles.
It is said that ‘Relationship Building’ is the new ‘Link Building’ and I could not agree more. Of course finding these other webmasters who may link to you is another battle entirely, but with the right content you have at least armed yourself with the right artillery.
One of the best and most thorough articles I have read recently on this exact subject comes from Jason Acidre (a.k.a – KaiserTheSage) and I strongly recommend you bookmark it for future reading:
Linker Outreach: A Method for Social and Editorial Link Building
The Other part of the equation that was greatly affected by the recent updates from Google was in the types of backlinks being directed to a site, and more specifically – the Anchor Text that was being used.
When I look at sites that were not affected by the algorithm changes the first thing I notice is that none of Aunt Betty’s blogs about Cats seemed to take a dive -(even if they had I guess they would have landed on their feet anyway right 😉 )
And herein lies the biggest clue as to what happened…
The New Anchor Text Formula for Beating Google
Google was smart enough to realise that spammy link building strategies involving low quality content spun into a thousand copies would result in an unnatural anchor text build up, and it used this to its advantage, wiping out sites that showed backlink profiles that had unnatural looking anchor text and an overuse of keywords.
Sites like Aunti Betty’s Cat blog however had none of these problems because their ignorance towards SEO (and their genuine interest in only sharing what they deemed to be valuable information) showed a backlink profile that was varied and not ‘forced’ as it were. Therefore it is fair to assume that…
The key to ranking sites now lies in natural looking anchor text distribution.
There are obviously a number of variables within this equation like do-follow and nofollow, types of links being acquired and quality of sites that those links come from but I will not be getting into those here. If you want to read more on this then I recommend the following two articles:
- Dofollow, Nofollow… Do you Even Know Where You’re Going?
- 10 Types of Links that Really Matter and How to Get them
What I want to share is here is the new algorithm for Anchor Text Distribution (for lack of a better phrase)
I highly recommend that you copy this information and print it out so that you are always aware of it as you build your own SEO profile and rank your sites in the search engines.
*This algorithm comes from extensive testing and I can say unequivocally that it works too!
Follow this Penguin and Panda Safe Anchor Text Formula
- 15% of your anchor text/backlinks should be focused on your primary keywords.
- 35% of the anchor text should be Brand based – this means any combination of your sites wording (http://alexwhalley.com. www.alexwhalley.com. Alex Whalley, AlexWhalley’s website, etc etc)
*This is where my argument FOR keyword rich domain names gets a solid boost – because although it is said that Google is placing less emphasis on keywords in the domain name, the fact that having keywords here means you can effectively turn that initial 15% into 50% is surely a good thing right?
- 40% need to be user defined (meaning anything that a normal layman would use to link back to your site: Click here, view more, check this site out, follow this link, go here etc etc)
*To go back to Aunti Betty and her cat blog, it is for this exact reason that sites like hers did not suffer as a result of the algorithm changes. It is in part due to their ignorance that they ended up being pushed up the rankings. Just think ‘Natural looking’
- 10% need to be longtail keywords, basically anything that includes your primary keywords but worded differently
*Read this article here on the importance of longtail keywords for both a definition and examples of best use practices
As you can see, this new anchor text algorithm will make your backlinking look natural to Google and will help you rank for the primary keywords in question (this is how the Penguin has impacted linkbuilding and as you can see from this new pattern, and applying some common sense – the sites that rank with this in mind are the ones that naturally get linked to and are not spamming the web with keywords)
It is also important to remember part 2 of the algorithm…
The new algorithm also requires that the links are not all pointing to the home page, meaning that in the case of squeeze pages … a blog is required. (at the very least a few pages of SEO optimised content on the backend)
- 25% of your backlinks point to the main page or homepage
- 75% of your backlinks point to deep nested pages on the site (any other page)
I also recommend making a conscious effort to link OUT to relevant and authoritative websites every so often as this shows Google that you are providing quality references for your readers and not just hogging all the love for yourself
*The fact that these links can also garner the attention of the sites in question and lead to possible links back and or relationships is just an added bonus
Google has done a fantastic job of keeping the web clean of spam and crappy low quality content, and although the updates will continue to come and sites will continue to be penalised – creating a back link profile that is based solely on quality content and relevant links will always, and I mean ALWAYS stand you in the best position to not be affected in a negative way by these future changes.
I recently published a post on Ana Hoffman’s Traffic Generation Cafe Blog that takes you step by step through the process of reverse engineering your SEO competition in order to gain quality backlinks that we KNOW Google will love. Check it out, and be sure to read the articles I references throughout this post.