What every website owner likes to see is high Google Ranking and many will easily cross the shady, thin line that separates white-hat SEO (the good guys) and black-hat SEO (the “Bad” guys). And though you may think you got away with it, karma comes around and knocks on your door; and by karma I mean Google Penguin.
Google Penguin is the latest Google Algorithm update to Google’s endless war against Black-Hat seo. Specifically the May 25th update, called Penguin 1.1, was built to target over optimization and poor backlinks and reportedly affects 3.1% of search queries in English. Website owners all over the world are getting nasty surprises, when they see their rankings suddenly plunge from one day to the next.
So the question on every webmaster’s mind is “What do we do now?”
What can we do to avoid getting hit by this update but still get backlinks to our website?
Well the best thing you can do is make sure you play fair and stick to Google’s guidelines. Always use white-hat techniques however tempting it may be to cheat your way to the top. Your results may take longer to show, but they will be long lasting and you will always feel safe from any future algorithm updates.
However, as we have mentioned the line between the good and the bad is very thin and you cannot always tell what is safe and what not. For this reason I’ve listed the basics of each category.
White-hat link building Techniques
- Write valuable content that people will naturally want to link to and share on social media; this is the most important thing you can do. Good content and good offers bring natural traffic and this is the type of traffic that is more likely to buy from you anyway.
- Share on Social Media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. This is a no-brainer. The people on your social media are people who are interested in you or your business. Obviously these people are more likely to, in turn share and promote your content or even buy from you at the end of the day.
- Guest Posts on Blogs is a great way of letting people see your expertise and at the same time, for you to get a nice little link back to your website. Keep in mind though, that for the link to have a positive result, you have to look for trustworthy, credible websites with a good visibility. In link-building you are judged by your “friends”.
- Send Press Releases to news media and online magazines that your target audience visits. Email editors and let the world know you are out there. Not everyone will be interested, but the ones that are, will give you valuable links to your site.
- Post in Forums that your target audience visits. Don’t be spammy or obviously self-promoting; just try to be useful, have fun and people will naturally be interested in what you do and willing to help you along the way.
Black-hat link building Techniques
- Paid links. Google can now easily detect websites that offer paid links and so the website itself gets penalized and loses credibility. Therefore any website associated with it, can also lose rankings, if it is found that it is linked to enough such websites.
- Link Farms or sites linking to each other only to boost link popularity. In this case Google not only doesn’t like the fact that you are trying to trick it, but also since the sites’ content rarely have anything to do with each other, it makes it hard for Google to estimate what your website is about.
- Reciprocal link pages. Again here comes the matter of quality links or “Friends.” Since site that offer reciprocal links, also offer them to a number of low quality or spammy websites, your site may just get thrown into the same category as everyone else and end up getting penalized.
- Low quality directories. Same as above.
- DoFollow Forum posts and DoFollow blog comments. Here too you have the same problem as the previous two cases. All these sites, forums, and blogs, because they offer links out freely, tend to draw to them a lot of people who are just interested in getting links, without having anything valuable to offer. Google can see that these websites are just no good and lowers their ratings. Now your site may not fall into this category, but just to be sure you are safe, don’t hang out with the wrong type of people.
- Article spinning which means re-writing existing articles. Usually this is done by using special software and most of the time comes out unreadable and this is how Google Panda can tell if content has been used by an article spinner. Also article directories have their own ways of telling whether an article is a duplicate or not. As a result, if you get caught, you will lose any backlinks not to mention your credibility.
I will leave you with a quote from Google’s page in Link Schemes that will help you any time you are in doubt about the techniques you’re using.
“The best way to get other sites to create relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity in the Internet community. The more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it. Before making any single decision, you should ask yourself the question: Is this going to be beneficial for my page’s visitors?”