How to Build Links in a Post Penguin World?
With Google focused on its intent to clean up the web, link building has been going through dramatic transformations. While many SEO professionals work with and for these links, ultimate success for the clients they work for isn’t determined by links at all. Instead, it’s on what finally matters to client: revenue and profits.
Link building is one of the critical factors for SEO process. Circa May 2013, Google released Penguin 2.0 – an update after its 2012 Penguin release – aimed to penalize websites with manipulative links. Compared to Google’s Panda release, Penguin is slightly harder to understand and to come to terms with. The Penguin release focuses on manipulative linking tactics, backlink patterns, and other elements such as anchor text. Following the release, advertorials took a huge hit, link-selling websites literally shut down, and even a company like Sprint had to face a stiff penalty. All of this called for a new approach to link building for businesses of all size with any sort of a presence online. Here’s how you’d well to build links in a Post-Penguin world:
Taking stock of your links
First things first: dump any low-quality content on your website. In case you wonder what exactly “qualifies” for low-quality content, head to your Google analytics account, fire up a year’s worth of reports, go to Content > Site content > All pages. Once you are here, you’ll be able to see page views (sort this out using page views column) and then review the pages with the lowest “views.”
Review this content and decide if all of this should be on your pages or not. Further, take stock of any content you’d have uploaded (with links back to your website) on third-party sites such as your first attempts at guest posts, article directories, and other sites such as Ezine Articles, Bukisa, or Hub Pages.
Using a tool such as Opensiteexplorer.org, do a thorough backlink analysis for your web pages. You’ll be able to see a full list of inbound links, top pages, linking domains, anchor text, and even compare link metrics. To take stock of your links and anchor text, check to see where your content is published, where it points to, the anchor text it uses, etc.
For all questionable links pointing to you, work to remove them from your stock of assets.
Produce content on audience demand
Websites provide information. Exactly what kind of information is in question here? Content that serves the need of your audience. While keyword research is rapidly falling out of fashion, it’s still a prelim task that holds its own as far as researching for audience demand is concerned. Yes, even the long tail is slowly losing its sheen. Produce content based on sematic reasoning derived from your basic research.
Get an anchor text mix
So you might look for guest posting opportunities, work hard to find relevant host blogs that are popular and well-trafficked, you’d build stellar content to publish on these host blogs, and an author bio goes out for every blog post published. Penguin update has a lot to do with anchor text so it makes sense to derive variations of your anchor text for balance. Erin Everhart of Search Engine Land suggests using a mix of brand links [company name], exact-match links, partial-match keywords, and even non-descriptive links such as click here or read more.
If you are publishing posts on host blogs (guest posting) turn in variations for your author bio with a balance of these anchor texts along with the author bio itself for every blog post.
Content, Link Management, and Backlink Policing
Your future as an SEO professional or as a small business investing resources for SEO, managing your content and links will take center stage. Focus on creating content that actually has value, promote your content (or your clients’ content) on social media, gain maximum exposure, and perform competitor research to check what kind of links perform well. Use a link management tool to help you keep track of anchor texts, linking domains, and other link-related aspects for efficient management. Some of the tools you can use for these purposes are listed below:
- BuzzStream for link management: conduct research on link research; manage projects and tasks; launch effective outreach efforts via email and twitter; scale up your outreach; build lists; and manage backlinks efficiently.
- Open Site Explorer by Moz: check your backlinks, domains that link to you, tap into advance reports, get a real time data on links, and also keep tab on social data.
- Raven Tools: The link manager helps you research potential clients, grab Webmaster contactinformation, and much more.
- Moz analytics: Gives you a single dashboard to check on all your digital marketing efforts in one place. Content, links, social sharing data, and competitive analysis.
- Keep an eye out on Twitter for conversations such as this.
Sujan Patel listed out at least 15 other link-building tools you could choose to work with.
You can still work with the forums
According to Neil Patel of Quick Sprout, forums are still an underused link building asset class. Find forums that are related to the niche you are working with using the following search strings:
“forum” + “Keyword”
allintitle:forum + keyword
Look to see if the forums allow for direct and follow links and start contributing to the forum with information-packed content to help out forum members. In general, work to leave a fairly balanced footprint on forums.
Surviving in the post-panda scenario requires a judicious use of well-crafted content, efficient link management, and compliance with Google’s Webmaster guidelines.
It’s hard work and the scope of work keeps changing. Just like most other modern-day professionals, SEO experts have a lot of catching up to do with every animal-named release Google ships out every now and then. It’s all about getting users the right content. Our work as SEO professionals is to take the lead to help with a dual role: help Google weed out trash while helping businesses make themselves available when users tend to look for them.