How Back-Link Profiles Have Changed Since Google Penguin
Google’s Penguin update was designed to clear out the websites with over-optimized back-link profiles.
A back-link profile is an overview of all your inbound links. For 8 years, up until the birth of the Penguin algorithm, the way to get your website to the top of Google was to include your keywords in all the key indicators on your page, and then build lots of links from the best Google PR pages you could find, using the exact match keyword as your anchor text.
This works very well. Too well in fact, so Google set about devising a better algorithm that would measure websites for nature linking behavior, rather than rewarding artificially promoted sites.
Google’s New Algorithm – Simplified
For this article, we are only going to talk about the off-page linking factors because they are fundamental to your SEO strategy and the main reason for being penalised in search currently.
There are two big issues I have with Google wanting us to let our sites rise organically, firstly, no website has ever got to the top of Google for a competitive search term without using SEO techniques to get there. Secondly, Google expects website owners to sit back wait for Google to reward them for their organic growth.
I don’t know many business owners who are that laid back and relaxed about life. Most website owners I know want top search engine rankings and they want them now!
What Penguin Changed
Overnight, with the release of Google Penguin on the 24th April 2012, all the elements of your back-link profile that were giving you top ten rankings started working against you. Prior to Penguin, a website could have 70%+ of its links all using the same anchor text and rank well. Overnight this fell to 20%, then 10% and currently (April 2013) as we approach the first anniversary of Penguin, we would recommend that you keep individual anchor texts below 2%.
We have seen many linking profiles where the more a keyword is promoted through link text, the lower it falls in SERP’s. It really is a case of less being more in 2013 and beyond.
What should your Link Profile Look Like?
The top backlinks to your site pages should be dominated by Brand links, Junk links and URL links. You should avoid using keyword links in any volume.
Additionally, site wide links have lost a lot of value, with more merit now being given to the amount of Class C IP addresses that your links come from. This means, not just links from different websites, but links from different servers.
This was designed to reduce the impact of professional linking networks who would historically set up many different sites on the same hosting platform (to reduce costs) and use all these sites to create links to their clients.
Now you need to find websites that will link to you that are hosted in different buildings.
Google Penguin is also putting far more value on the topic of the site linking to you. Google is looking for themed sites linking to you using a URL or Brand link, as this is seen as a quality signal. The fact that it also sounds just like a ‘paid ad’ is not the point it seems!
So if you want to rank well in Google in 2013 and beyond, take a look at your back-link profile and see if it matches what the evil Penguin is looking for?
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