How to prepare your site and SEO for the next Penguin updates

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A lot of sites got hit by Penguin and some managed to escape it.  If your sites were some of the sites that managed to get by, but had a bad link profile, you can expect that the next update will be going after you.  Some of the sites that were hit and recovered forgot what caused them to get hit in the first place and the sites that escaped are probably going to get hit much harder.  So what can you do to help prevent the next penguin update or Penguin 2.0 for destroying your SERPs (search engine ranking positions or rankings in the search engines (only Google for this post))?  Go back to natural looking link building and SEO.

What does Penguin focus on?

Penguin focuses on external factors that point to your site to show Google how to rank you and for what terms or categories.   Penguin 2.0 will more than likely be like the first round with a heavy focus on backlinks.  It could tie in social media, but rumors are that the Zebra update (if it’s real) will have a focus on social media.  Lots of SEO firms are still using blog comments, article sites, anchor text (keyword based) backlinks, review sites and other things as a method to help rank a site.  These are all things that can make your site a target for Penguin 2.0.  Here are a few things you should think about with your current SEO strategies, things to think about avoiding and if your SEO firm is doing this, things to ask them about or possibly get rid of them and move on.  You can find a ton of great firms like this one that can help pull your sites out of Penguin and Panda penalizations.

Your backlinks and anchor text.

To survive Penguin 2.0 you need a high ratio of natural looking backlinks.  When a site links to you naturally, it is usually off of your site name, company name or url and not a keyword.  When an SEO company builds links, they like to go after keywords because that has been a way to easily rank sites in the past.  Penguin is looking at this and if your backlink profile has a majority (even 75% or more) anchor text backlinks, you are now a perfect target for the next update.  You should stop focusing on anchor rich backlinks and focus more on the quality of the website, the content in the article or post by your link and creating a natural looking link instead of anchor text.  You’ll need to figure out the proper ratio of anchor text and natural links so that you don’t flag Google while you are changing your link building strategies.  Anchor text is still good and important, but you have to have a proper ratio of anchor links vs. natural looking links pointing to your site.

No more review or giveaway sites for links.

Before anyone flips out about this, not all review or giveaway sites are bad for you.  If the site has a lot of content and is relevant to your products or services, it can be good.  If it is just reviews and giveaways, this is thin content and something that Panda goes after.  If the site has reviews of things like pills for adult performance in bed, pain killers or other things, chances are it is not a site that will be good for you because of the neighborhood they have created.  It doesn’t matter what the PR is, you don’t want your site associated with this.

If you have a PR department sending out free stuff, have them not include a link to your site but mention your URL, ask for them to no follow it or disavow the link.  One other option is to use a full tracking link that blocks Google completely from seeing it.  If you have a PR company doing a ton of giveaways or sending out free product, make sure they know how to add the link and what to be cautious of.  If they are sending out 100 products to review sites, you now have 100 links that could potentially hurt you an you need to do more work to make sure the links from thin content are counterbalanced by quality links from relevant sites. You may also want to give them an Affiliate link to use instead of a backlink so that you can measure results and see if it is even worth giving away free products when you don’t get anything in return and can actually be causing damage to your company.  The Affiliate link (depending on your program) will probably not count for a backlink, can measure if they can actually send you sales and will show the value of the review site.

Avoid the “PR Friendly” sites and submit your post sites.

When a site says that you can submit an article or guest post, or they say PR friendly and say you’ll get a backlink for sending products, paying for a post or buy an ad; you are telling Penguin to come hit your site.  Google doesn’t like you buying links and these sites are saying that you can buy them or have one for free by submitting an article or giving them something.  If you use a tool to help keep track of your backlinks, add in a note or tag that says this site allows people to guest post or sells links and then when you look at your ratio of natural vs. unnatural links, add in these sites as a negative impact on your natural links side and make sure you weigh it.

If your SEO company is still using directories, article sites, blog/forum comments, a heavy focus on anchor text or even blog rolls, it’s time to ask them about Penguin 2.0 and how they will prepare you for it.  You may want to ask them about how these link building strategies will help or hurt your site’s rankings when Penguin 2.0 comes and what they are doing to help protect you from it.  If they cannot answer immediately or don’t have a strong knowledge of the past updates, you may want to think about hiring a new SEO company that can help protect your site from the next updates.

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