I’ve been doing SEO since 1995, back in the good old days where simply repeating a few keywords more than your competitor improved your rank. Well things certainly have changed a lot over time, yet I’m finding many SEO tutorials out there still talking about ancient techniques. While there still is value to some of the older techniques, it’s only some that still work and most have to be applied in very small quantities.
So what’s the cure?
Well the cure to the Penguin Blues is right in front of your face – you need to go after the hard links, not the easy ones. The problem is that many SEO tutorials on the net were written a few years ago which means that they are often professing techniques that no longer work. Google has been repeating their mantra of “build for the user not for the search engines” for a while now, but with Penguin, they backed it up.
So what makes a link easy or hard?
An easily link is one you can simply pay for or get for free by filling-out a form. A hard link is when someone with a good deal of authority links to you, not because you’re paying them, but because they are referring to your site as a resource. That’s right, it’s more than just building for the user, it’s actually building something interesting that is useful and exciting to a larger audience.
If you search online for SEO tutorials many will talk about forum profile backlinks and comment backlinks. Sorry folks but Google is now very hip to this and isn’t valuing them they way they used to. Not only that, but Google is looking at how many easy links you have vs. hard links. This means if you’ve been busy (or your SEO company has been busy) building tons of easy backlinks, you’ll most likely see yourself slide from page one to page ten.
Don’t panic, just know that in order to reclaim your rightful place in search you’ll need to get more hard links. The best place to find hard links is OpenSiteExplorer.org by SEOMoz. Plugin the site that ranks where you want to be for your given search term and see which of their backlinks have the highest Page Authority. Start here, there’s a good chance that if you’re doing something similar to your competitor (hopefully better) then you should be able to earn a backlink from that site as well.
This is also where press releases can really work but you’ll need to go beyond a simple information site. People like reading about companies that are doing something different, so do something different, innovate, and let the whole world know about it. This can help you get a nice influx of high-quality links from people that actually care about what you’re doing. If real people like what you’re doing, you can bet Google will too. However, if it just looks like your site is suddenly in 200 directories or is getting random no follow links from unrelated blogs then you can expect Penguin to attack.
Last but certainly not least, how do you know if you’ve been impacted by Penguin?
Make sure to install Google Webmaster Tools on all your sites. If Google has a problem with you’re site, they’ll let you know through Webmaster Tools.
So watch-out for those old SEO tutorials and stick to what works in the post-Penguin world we now find ourselves in. Don’t be afraid of the changes, but do be aware of what you need to do in order to bring your sites back from the dead. Many sites were impacted by Penguin, even those who thought they were doing nothing wrong, by doing the right things going forward you can pick up right where you left off.
It’s time to cure the Penguin Blues, and the good news is, there is a cure, it’s up to you to make it happen!