Google Penguin and Downfall of ‘Improper’ Link Building

The extent of Google Penguin’s impact can be illustrated by the amount of blog entries I posted and the sudden flurry of articles since an apparent hibernation of this blog for months.

It is believed that Google Penguin, which is primarily targeted  at websites that previously made use and benefited from the so-called “unnatural links” — links that are built for the sole purpose of gaining link popularity rather than other purposes.

As to how Google figures out and distinguishes these “unnatural links” from those perceived as organic is constantly under wraps, but SEO circles have formulated a list of characteristics of this update based on experience in the industry.

  • Links Were Acquired Excessively
    Link building success is is not only based on the quality of links created for a target landing page, but also on the amount of time they are being built. Unless the topic is newsworthy and gets multiple press mentions, getting excessive amount of inbound link in a rather short time raises anti-spam filters that may issue warnings shortly before issuing a real penalty.What NOT to do?
    Certainly avoid schemes that promise of creating/submitting links in a short time. While it is not impossible to have a page getting tons of link in a matter of hours, all else may be considered spammy and likely be penalized if a related news search doesn’t produce stories similar the page in question (newsworthy) or there is no significant surge in keywords related to theme discussed in the page (popularity).

Links Were Intended for Specific Keywords
Google swoops down on pages whose inbound anchor text are dominated by a few keyword phrases. These phrases are obviously used to boost ranking for a query using them. Google could have seen enough of these links which are commonly embedded on signature of every forum posts made by users notably on phpBBplatform. Since these links are  often  dofollowed, it becomes an attractive source of inbound links, and therefore becomes a target of Google’s massive penalty towards offending websites.

What NOT to do?

When asking someone to create inbound links, it is not a good idea anymore to use a specific anchor text when creating inbound link; Google thinks they are way too artificial. It may appear more appealing to have links using variation of text (URL of link, broad match keywords, brand terms or ‘click here’ text) or medium (via image links). With the way penalties have worked out so far, it looked as though your site would rank better without optimizing for these keywords as anchor text than constantly building links uniformly. You can check if your site is optimized for specific terms using Google Webmaster Tools > Your Site on the Web > Links to Your Site > How Your Data is Linked. Hopefully, there is a great variation text used. Otherwise, your site could be a candidate for penalty, if not already penalized.

  • Links Found on Bad Neighborhoods
    If you are fond of reaching out to websites to have your website listed on sidebars along with totally unrelated websites, then stop this practice. Not only this doesn’t make too much sense to Google — unless you can find relationship between dog food and football trophy — this also doesn’t make sense to human visitors.

Overoptimization and negative SEO (creating massive links to competitors using the same phrase to get them punished) have been the buzzword lately and many websites have complained traffic has plummeted since the updated was unleashed.