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Caution: Don’t Overreact to Penguin (or Any Other Google Change)

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If you got Penguin slapped, the last thing you wanna do is rush in to try to fix things without first making sure of what you’re doing. Soon as the big Google updates started to hit, people panicked.

Even some so-called professional SEO service providers freaked out. Then there were the SEO specialists who decided this would be a great time to take advantage of people: they rushed out and promised near-instant recovery from these updates. They assured people “I can fix it for you!” — when in reality, they were only chasing $$$ signs.

Don’t jump on board and take everything you read to heart. Check out some of the big mistakes people made (and are still making).

Calling a Complete Halt to Backlink Building

No! No! No! Don’t believe it when someone tells you that backlinks don’t matter anymore. Think about this: If Google didn’t place any value on backlinks as a ranking factor, then why did they get so strict about which links they’re willing to count? If anything, that seems to emphasize the importance of backlinks, to my eyes. How about you?

Google is getting stricter about which links they place value on because links do matter. Google wants everyone to produce over-the-top, priceless content each and every time; content that will bring mass attention and leave everyone wanting to share your material with everyone they know.

Really? Yeah, like that’s gonna happen. It just isn’t that easy to generate those “natural” backlinks they wanna see.

So yes, be aware of what Google is cracking down on. Read the Google Webmaster Guidelines updates (as rare as they are) and stay away from those links that hover in the dark, beckoning you to buy them. They may be enticingly cheap, but they’re that cheap for a reason. In sum, don’t-don’t-don’t stop working to gain valuable quality links.

Racing as Fast as Possible to Remove Backlinks

There’s an underlying, irrational fear that’s driving people to remove lots of backlinks. True, there are cases when that’s perfectly justifiable. But only if you have shady, cheap backlinks you’ve paid for or clearly identified as part of a negative SEO campaign out to hurt you. (The latter is rare; and even more rare is for one of those campaigns to achieve its intended effect — but it’s been known to happen).

It is heartwrenching to watch a small business that relies on its website do further damage by using the disavow tool or actually paying people to remove links that weren’t really doing it any harm. Not all backlinks are bad! Just because you didn’t create, initiate, or generate the link doesn’t mean it’s hurting you. Remember, Google wants you to have links that appear naturally without any involvement from your side.

So before you start erasing parts of your backlink profile or disavowing links, please — please! — make sure you know what you’re doing. Don’t just take one person’s opinion as gospel truth.

Ditching Any Kind of Anchor Link Usage

Anchor text. It was kind of a buzzword of 2012, wasn’t it? Everywhere you turned after the Penguin arrived, people were talking about how using keyword anchor text for links got them buried in the search results. Truth is, using a multitude of anchor texts has always been the smart way to do things. If 99% of your backlinks say “Dallas DUI attorney,” it doesn’t look natural at all.

Instead, a chunk of your backlinks should say “Dallas DUI attorney,” but another chunk could say “Dallas attorney for DUI charges”; another could say “this attorney,” another could say “his website here,” etc.

If your links are coming from related pages on other sites, Google’s pretty good at picking up on that and knowing what your site is about. Even with anchor text that has nothing to do with your keywords “click here,” if it’s surrounded by text that talks about DUI attorneys or something similar then, yeah, they’ll know.

Note: One of the newest “hot things” that’s getting a lot of talk is co-occurences — sometimes called co-citations. There’s evidence that you don’t have to get a true HTML’d link. If an article talks about what to do when you get a DUI and they say visit so-and-so.com (your site) just like that, with no actual link, that helps your ranking just as much as a real link. Google has a patent pending that deals with identifying phrases and “used to retrieve and rank documents” here. Whether it pans out to be related to this or not, we’ll just have to wait and see. What do you think it really means?

Conclusion

So these are just a few of the rash moves that site owners have been making. We hope that you’ll take heed. If you aren’t sure about your backlink profile or what you should be doing with it, we can help you. Visit our contact page and get in touch.

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Veronica

Veronica has been writing online since 2007. She enjoys helping clients with copywriting and content needs, as well helping with SEO campaigns. Her experience ranges from helping small websites succeed with SEO and internet marketing campaigns to writing for Planet Green (Discovery Channel).

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