The entire SEO community is bracing themselves. A new Google Penguin update should be here any time, and it is looking like it will be quite a big deal. Supposedly it will be much more brutal than the already merciless update that came last April.
Judging from what we already know about Penguin, there are some ways to prepare yourself and all of your sites to make sure you don’t get hit by the first wave of penalties. Plus, if you follow these suggestions from Marcela De Vivo, you’ll be improving your SEO all around.
- Monthly Link Audits – Knowledge is power, and audits give you a lot of knowledge. Start with the backlinks and get a baseline. Find out how may high quality and low quality links you have. Who are these links connecting to? If there are spammy links, work to have them removed. You can choose from a huge selection of audit tools to make the process easy, and you will always know how your link profile is doing.
- Anchor Density – A popular way to try to cheat search engines is cranking up anchor density for money terms, and Penguin already penalizes those that do it too much. There is a good chance they will get stricter on their anchor density guidelines, so it is important to keep an eye out. You want to be under 15% for the money term. Any higher is risking penalties when the new Penguin update arrives.
- Link Ratios – Links are all about finding the right balance. Google talks about Earned vs. Unearned links, and when they do that they mean Images vs Mentions or Text, Sitewide Ratios, Deep Link Profiles, etc. De Vivo breaks down the categories a little more, but the main idea is to keep a good balance between them all.
- Use Your Webmaster Tools – For every siteowner who thinks this is obvious is another siteowner who doesn’t know what Webmaster Tools is or how to monitor it. This is the best line between you and Google, and watching the links Google displays in your account can help identify problematic links as well as keeping you informed as to how they are effecting your rankings. There are numerous problems that Webmaster Tools can inform you of, you just have to look.
- Don’t Do Spammy Link Building – This one is the most obvious out of all of these, but it seems no amount of telling site owners to keep away from this practice will ever stop the problem. If something sounds too good to be true in SEO, IT IS. If you can’t identify spammy links, don’t do the work yourself. Google will penalize you if it hasn’t already, and the money you spent on those links wil be wasted.
Google Penguin isn’t the bad guy, nor is it the authoritarian figure not letting anyone have fun. Google’s spam fighting efforts are keeping our browsing running smoothly, and the “innocent” people affected by these changes are participating in questionable tactics. Read Google’s best practices, and follow them. If you are taking proper care of your site and following Google’s rules, the new Penguin update won’t feel near as scary.