10 Link Building Tips to Keep Google’s Penguin Happy

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IMAGE: Blueclaw

Here’s a few post Penguin link building survival tips:

1.    Don’t build terrible links towards your money site period! Stay away from comment spam, low grade directory links, Xrumer automated nonsense (a popular Negative SEO tool), sidebar links, footer links, mass article submissions, links on thin content sites, profile links, don’t buy a 1000 +1s and tweets from Fiver (this is really bad, you’ll burn your site very quickly, again a favoured Negative SEO tactic) and never buy links from TextLinks, a sure fire one way ticket to Google oblivion.

2.    Don’t be tempted to buy cheap links from SEO lunatics promising you 1000s of links each month (the $200 per month nutters), it doesn’t work and will eventually kill your site stone dead. Most of these links are placed within spammy networks and are almost impossible to remove. You’ll end up spending $1000s trying to remove them. Google please take note, we can’t bloody remove these links, roll out a tool so we can tell you so and listen, you have the resource! This endless Penguin cycle of repeated reconsideration requests is complete nonsense, just say hey we’re not going lift the penalty, you best change your domain name and start again (rant over).

3.    Build quality content such as surveys, research papers, tools sets, memes, data sets and useful tips (back this up with Online PR) etc. Get this content on high authority sites, sites you know are well used and have healthy OSE and Majestic scores. Yes an obvious one however you still need to get the metrics right. There is a lot of fancy talk flying around various SEO blogs at the moment stating great content will get you loads of links yadda yadda yadda, yes I do agree well promoted/great content will harvest links, but are they the right links? Ensure you carry out your link outreach/analysis before you create your content, find out where you need to get linked from and which social circles are most likely to push those all important social signals towards your content. Do this first; you’ll then reap the rewards.

4.    G+ profile links – This seems to have gone off the radar recently, don’t ignore this, build strong +1 profiles and add links within your profiles to your posts, get other G+ authors to promote your content.

5.    Monitor you anchor text carefully, this is crucial, don’t build too many money term anchors, a big Penguin no no (Giuseppe Pastore’s anchor text survey is well worth a read). Mix your anchors (brand only, brand with money, click here, www. and non www. etc). Compare your anchors to your competitor anchor text footprints and get the balance right. Don’t be tempted to blast your domain for quick wins by building loads of money term anchors (unless you don’t care, i.e. slash and burn SEO), you won’t win, Google will slap you.

6.    Use the right tools such as Excel, Cognitive SEO, Link Research Tools, SearchMetrics, MajesticSEO and OSE (we don’t tend to use OSE directly so much now, Link Research Tools pulls out a lot more data). Measure, compare, contrast and measure again, be 100% sure that the anchor text balance is right and the links you are targeting are from trusted sites. Don’t explore one tier deep, go deeper, check 2,3,4 tiers down, identify the key link juice funnels. Be meticulous in your approach!

7.    When you link make sure you link right! Where should you place a link? For example we tend to place one link only within the top to middle part of a piece of content, usually within 300-1000 word article surrounded by semantically themed content.  On the odd occasion we don’t add a link, instead we build brand citations to keep the profile a natural as possible. We also build links to links we have built. Good content generates links so don’t just link and go, build links tiers, these will act as link bridges, key link foundations.

8.    Infographics, much overused in my opinion. Dave Snyder at ionSearch 2012 categorically slated infographics (see Dave’s video here, a must watch, Content Marketing in the Post-Panda World) and Matt Cutts has recently warned Google may start to devalue inforgraphics that are deliberately built for link building purposes, again Google isn’t stupid, they know what is going on. Some agencies churn out nice pretty infographics for infographics sake (much like mass article submissions back in the day), this is rubbish and pointless. If you do go down the inforgraphic route then make sure you do your research and make the graphic meaningful and not just a trendy piece of HTML 5 artwork (yes this will get CSS gallery/forum links, Google knows this trick and will devalue them eventually).

9.    Use a telephone, that old relic on your desk – This does work, get on the phone and call webmasters (if they are contactable by phone then this an excellent starting point, they exist!) and ask how you can get a feature on their site, be nice to them, write a testimonial about them, a review or just mention them on your blog and tell them about it, play to their ego, listen to them, agree with them and get the deal done. Use the most confident person in your office who is good on the phone. If you’re dealing with hard-nosed male executives then get a female colleague to call them (this works, men tend to soften when a female voice is on the other end of the line. We also use female names on our outreach emails, we get a better response rate, link building involves psychological acumen, play the game). Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone! Link building is the art of perseverance!

10.    If you can’t keep Google happy then look for new traffic opportunities, Google’s authority will eventually decrease (Penguin is the starting point), something will replace it, be ready, spend a day or so per week using and researching other search engines (for example Duck Duck Go), tell others to use them, promote them, develop them, talk about them, there is traffic elsewhere, another universe, it’s up to us to find it and create it!

I could go on for another 1000 or so words, I won’t do, I’d rather let you do that and add a comment, how do you keep Google happy (or not)?

  • mike litson

    Key point to take from this, Monitor you anchor text carefully – especially now that we’re living in a world of negative SEO. The reason being that people will try and tip you over the edge if you’re getting close to going over.

    I would also say that ok you should be doing the G+ stuff, but don’t panic if you haven’t. It’s not the be all and end all, but definitely something else you could be doing. It doesn’t take too much time.

    And the telephone is a very good point, that’s why customer services always put you onto a woman when you’re angry. Call centres know it works best. The other thing I’d say is good old fashioned networking. I get some of my best links for the price of a couple of beers and some good content at conferences.

  • Luke Metcalfe

    I definitely agree, I think the key point is to look at your anchor text. I would also suggest looking into setting up a G+ account for the author rank update in order to keep Google happy.

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