Webmasters and online business owners have been holding their breath in anticipation of the latest Google Penguin 2.0 update, which is the next generation algorithm change designed to combat web spam. Not to be confused with the SEO industries own naming convention and the 4th Penguin roll out. Penguin 2.0 is Google’s internal name for it – regardless whatever the tag, it has the same weighted message to those who are still in the high risk game of buying links.
Straight from the horses mouth of the illustrious Matt Cutts head of web spam at Google, “It’s going to have a pretty big impact on web spam.” ; “It’s a brand new generation of algorithms. The previous iteration of Penguin would essentially only look at the home page of a website. The newer generation of Penguin goes much deeper and has a really big impact in specific areas.”
Bruce Lee said about martial arts that he believed in the ‘style of no styles’, in other words he didn’t buy into one particular style of Karate or Kung Fu, and that predetermined templated moves can easily be read by your enemy. ‘Flow naturally like water’ he said! The same can be said of link building, although I’m not depicting Google as the enemy in this analogy. Google are trying to clean up the internet and have invested a mountain of research hours in detecting black hat and grey hat SEO. It’s another game changer but reinforces the fact that SEO is all about content marketing and social media.
So what types of links are acceptable now?
Google’s attack on unnatural links has greatly increased their capacity to detect and act on link building practices they consider detrimental to their algorithms. Quality links should be citations, natural and relevant to the source material and the external references. Look at a typical citation example from an article on music. This writer wasn’t playing to the tune of any link building or Google SEO strategy – this is pure at heart. This is why links form edu sites have been highly regarded in the SEO world, but if it’s not relevant, it’s still not going to have much value in terms of SEO rankings. If you’re still determined not to throw the towel in on manual link building, there’s basically no room for complacency. Obviously less use of keyword rich anchor text, no site wide links, all these matter more than ever – what you need is a wide variety of relevant citations, this is key. This doesn’t mean your articles have to look like a Wikipedia entry, as long as its interesting, your half way there.
So what does this mean for guest posting and guest posting platforms?
For those adopting to exchange posts / content, this is a good supplemental strategy if done sensibly, but it would also depend on if the sites are also selling links or advertising. If you are accepting guest posts on your site, then content/links should be clearly marked as advertising or sponsorship with ‘no follows’ – a site with non related outbound blogroll links, all do follow will look suspicious to Google. They are in the business of penalizing the source as well as the destination site.
For those using free or paid guest posting sites where you submit your content to a number of blogs, the problem here is how the platform manages and publishes your post. Not having much say on where your post gets published or being forced to add a bio profile (albeit it’s tapping into the Google author rank model) with anchor text at the bottom of the article (because their policy is not to allow links in the article body) in my view has already become prevalent with SEO’s, and should be approached with caution. Future updates may look more at these methods. If guest posting is your only strategy because it’s easier to do, then like most short cuts, something will give in the end. The main thought process should be to look for sites where the editorial policy is highly respected and the search engine trust for the site is the same. If you historically pursued guest posts solely for purposes of getting links, most probably with rich anchor text, than chances are that the sites you posted on don’t have that high a level of trust with the search engines. The secret is to nurture your business, it’s content, your brand and not to be reckless with a link building mindset.
The Only Way to SEO Is Content Marketing
The way forward and what most respected digital marketers have adopted over the last couple of years is to evolve link building into real SEO and search marketing tactics. Content marketing is nothing new, but in the past has been cast aside because it’s a lot more time intensive to implement.
Creating majestic content is not enough though (images, videos, editorial standard articles) you need to relate to your audience, engage with people online, build a following, use social media tools, manage your brand, build up your authority and more… This means creating and planning your content wisely. This content will be what everyone wants to reference, and these are the type of links that Google wants to see. So if you’re a business owner and there’s no provision for creating media content and integrated social media strategy, then it’s fair to say that your SEO strategy probably requires a fresh look, before it’s too late.
References and further reading:
Advanced Guide to Content Marketing – Quicksprout