If you run a website or blog, implementing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies are essential for getting more traffic to your site. By optimizing each page on your site — or each blog post — for a relevant keyword, Google will know to index that page for that keyword. And by getting links from other authoritative sites, your page will rise in the rankings.
But what happens when Google makes an update to their search algorithm? How will that affect you?
Today, Google has rolled out Penguin 2.0, their latest search algorithm update. This update is a link-quality filter — it ensures that sites who use manipulative techniques to improve their search visibility, a.k.a. black hat SEO, are penalized. Unfortunately, this could have a negative impact on well-meaning websites that happen to be getting links from bad websites. So here are a few things you can do to optimize your site for the Penguin 2.0 update.
Disassociate your site from poor links
Google will penalize sites that have incoming spammy-looking links. You should avoid building links that:
- Come from link farms – you should never pay for links
- Use overly-optimized anchor text – obviously matches the keyword you’ve optimized your website page for
- Come from inappropriate websites
- Come from irrelevant websites that have nothing to do with your site
You may already have links like this that exist, and it might not be your fault, either. Historically, there was nothing you could do about backlinks. But now you can, with Google’s Disavow Links tool. Here’s how to use it:
1. Export backlinks to your site
Go to your Webmaster Tools for your website. Then click on Traffic > Links to Your Site in the sidebar. Then under the Who links the most section click More.
Click Download more sample links. If you click Download latest links, you’ll see dates as well. Download the .CSV file.
Now you have a record of all the links linking back to your site.
2. Create a .txt file with links you want to disassociate your site from
Create a .txt file — you can use a basic word editing software like Notepad or TextEdit. In this new file, add each of the URLs linking to you that you want to disassociate your site from — one URL per line. If you want to disassociate yourself from an entire website, rather than a specific URL on that site, you can just add the line “domain:example.com”.
I highly recommend creating a separate .txt file rather than using the export from Google Webmaster Tools to create your .txt file. This is to eliminate the risk of accidentally disassociating yourself from high-quality sites. When you save this new file, save it as a .txt file type encoded in UTF-8 or 7-bit ASCII.
3. Upload this .txt file to the Google Disavow Links tool
Go to the Google Disavow Links tool. Select your website and click Disavow Links.
You can then upload your .txt file. Google may take a while to process this update, just as it takes a while for Google to crawl new pages.
Focus on creating high-quality content
In addition to removing poor-quality backlinks to your site, you should focus on building high-quality links to your site. The best way to do this is create remarkable content that reputable sites want to link to.
- Create great, interesting content that your audience would find truly valuable
- Link out to other high-quality sites in your niche
- Build relationships with other bloggers and website owners in your niche, which will encourage them to link to you
- Guest blog on high-quality sites in your niche and include a link back to your own site (without using exact-keyword anchor text as the link)
- Look for relevant websites with high amounts of social sharing, and build relationships with them
Understand what anchor text to use for your links
Previously, the SEO best practice for internal links (links on your own site linking to another page on your site) and backlinks (links on other websites linking to your site) was to use relevant keywords as the anchor text. For example, if I wrote a blog post about Facebook’s Timeline feature, I would want my anchor text to be “Facebook Timeline.”
With the Penguin 2.0 update, you could actually be penalized if your links are obviously over-optimized. So according to Search Engine Watch, it’s actually a good idea to increase the use of brand or “white noise” anchor text to remove obvious exact and phrase match anchor text problems.
- Brand anchor text: http://ustandout.com, U Stand Out (see how I linked to Search Engine Watch above as another good example)
- White noise anchor text: click here, website, here, see this, go here, look at this
Get social endorsements
You should basically +1 every one of your new blog posts on Google+. Not only will this speed up the indexing process — so you won’t have to wait for Google’s spiders to crawl your new blog post every time you publish a new article — but this social endorsement will help your site’s SEO. While Facebook and Twitter definitely matter, Google primarily looks at shares on Google+ to determine a site’s authority and relevancy.
Do you have any more tips for optimizing your site for Google’s Penguin 2.0 update? Share your thoughts in the comments below!