If you work in Google’s world, you are probably aware of the recent Penguin update. Similar to the initial Penguin rollout in 2012, this next generation of the webspam algorithm created quite a shake-up, and even ended some businesses.
Penguin 2.0 is dedicated to fighting black-hat webspam. Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Search Quality team, said this new algorithm update is more comprehensive than Penguin 1.0 and expected to have more impact. Looks like it met that expectation.
Some websites escaping a hit from Penguin last year lost rankings this time around; others saw their positions rise. Additional updates and data refreshes to follow will, no doubt, impact even more. Cutts said the Google team is also working on a completely different system that does more sophisticated link analysis.
Many SEOs continue to scour backlink profiles for unnatural links considered acceptable and profitable in the past while also working to build quality replacements. Some web directory administrators removed contact pages from their sites to avoid the onslaught of link removal requests. Other directories are demanding payment for removing links they received payment to add. Quite a few general directories and link networks are now gone.
The impact of Penguin 1.0-2.0 also increased the popularity of negative linkbuilding. Watch your backlink profiles, folks. There are lots of people now willing to pay the cost for hundreds of thousands and even millions of low-quality links directed to a competitor’s site, and, sadly, there are many sites selling the services.
What does Google say?
“Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. If you’re concerned about another site linking to yours, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question.”
Contact a thousand webmasters? A million?
You can use Google’s disavow tool. (Read a recent article about the mysterious disavow tool here.) However, Google recommends you first work to remove as many unnatural links as you can. Here’s Google’s info on disavowing links. If you plan to use it, watch Cutts’ new video about common mistakes people using the tool make.
It may or may not work for Penguin-related issues, but if you have a lot of unnatural links you’re unable to remove, you may consider it. Then hopefully sometime in the future, perhaps when a Penguin refresh comes along, maybe sooner, or later, your site’s rankings will improve.
Post Penguin Linkbuilding
A lot of people are wondering how to build links post-Penguin.
Cutts says SEOs still spend too much time building links rather than focusing on compelling content and user experience. Quality content and user experience should be your primary focus, but SEOs know links can help as well as harm. Until Google discounts them completely, SEOs will continue building them. However, it’s the quality and type of links that help sites, and acquiring those is not an easy task.
He asked the question you should ask yourself each time you think about trying to get a link to your site:
“Would you go after a link if Google did not exist?”
Not sure if those were his exact words or not, but you know what it means. Some links make good sense. They bring quality referral traffic. They help build your business online.
If you plan to continue building links, that’s the test you need to use moving forward, if you’re not already.