A big fuss has been made after the launch of Google’s new algorithm update, Penguin, in April of this year. The main issue, of course, being that it seemed many sites suddenly fell in the wake of its introduction.
As with Google’s previous algorithm update Panda, this is all in an effort to bring more valuable and trustworthy content to web-users.
So how can one as a webmaster pursue SEO practices that won’t be penalised by Penguin updates of the future?
Scrutinise Your Link Profile
Going over your link profile with a fine tooth comb should be your first step. This can be quite an inane task and seemingly peripheral from a user perspective, but has become the main target of Google’s new link analysis system.
Black hat SEO practices, such as having inbound links from unrelated sites, are a red flag for any Google search bots.
Even more subtle unethical linking practices, such as embedding links in irrelevant content or making use of site wide linking in order to gain visibility, that were somewhat ignored in the past, are now coming into Google’s cross-hairs.
Link Building: Not All Visibility Is Beneficial
Also, as was the case when you were in school, sometimes associating with a bad element can reflect poorly on your image. Make sure that all the sites the you’re linked with are themselves not making use of unethical SEO practices. These are often referred to as bad neighbourhoods on the web.
Links with other sites should always appear relevant to either their content or the subject matter of the site. Co-operative link schemes between sites has always been a common and relatively effective way of boosting your profile.
As such it’s also always been forbidden by most search engines. The key development now being that Penguin has made the ranking algorithm very sensitive to “unnatural” links. This isn’t to say that linking with other companies is frowned down upon, just make sure that the connection between the two makes sense, and adds value to your site’s message.
Vary Anchor Tags Naturally
Anchor text should also be kept natural. The simplest way to do this is using branded keywords that can be easily identified but are specific to your site. When not using these, keep keywords varied and avoid frequent repetition.
The extent of what is considered black hat SEO in anchor text still hasn’t been entirely defined, so the best policy would be to play it safe and avoid any unexpected penalties.