With the Big G’s Penguin update asserting control over backlink quality, can webmasters and SEO gurus continue business as usual?
If you haven’t heard, Google launched the age of negative SEO on April 24th, 2012, Penguin, Google’s latest algo update killed traffic to around 3% of websites; not necessarily because the sites were poor quality but because the sites linking to them were poor quality.
Where Google’s crawlers once looked for keyword spamming, content duplication, websites getting thousands of backlinks too quickly and the quality of website that a website links to, Google’s algorithms now measure inbound link quality too.
This means its crawlers now look at the quality and originality of links pointing to a website. Signals of bad backlinks include:
- Repeated link anchors across multiple websites.
- Repeated link titles across multiple sites.
- Quality of content in the inbound linking site.
- Quality of the sites that link to sites that link to you.
- Links that are out of context with the overall meaning of the page they are in.
Has Your Site Been Hit by Penguin?
If it looks like your inbound links are non organic, if they look like paid links or they look like they were created through spamming other sites, then Penguin’s race to town will have cost your site its search engine position.
If you use black-hat SEO and Penguin skipped you this time, don’t look too pleased just yet because it’s due to make a second sweep soon.
Practitioners of the dark art of black-hat SEO are using negative SEO to destroy their competition. They are buying backlinks for their rivals. One story tells us about a company that lost its search engine position because a competitor used negative SEO to make 700,000 backlinks to its website.
Threats of legal action have been fired to web masters of poor quality, low value websites to tell them to remove backlinks. Such letters are being sent out on mass so good quality sites are being hit with threats too.
It’s time to turn off the trackback URLs and to start double-checking every site you link out to. Make sure every link on your site is to a good quality site and disable trackbacks to deter trackback spam.
Has the Web Changed Forever?
Can businesses continue to stick ads on websites? If the ads all look the same, the links will look spammy and the site they point to will be downgraded by Penguin. This is counterproductive to any business that wants to gain traffic from search engines and through link-back marketing efforts.
Footer credits that link to a web designer’s or theme designer’s website now negatively impact the designer’s SERPS. WPMU discovered this through Matt Cutts.
Directories, once the staple for getting backlinks could now be effectively dead. Most directories are filled with links to spam sites. Being listed in a bad quality directory or running an unmonitored directory within your website could kill your site. Some directories are still valuable for SEO but you need to know where to submit to.
Are Search Engines Finished?
There are surfers who never leave social media sites. If a website lacks a Facebook page, has no Twitter contact route and no Pinterest or Flickr presence then it will never be visited by the increasing number of people who never see a search engine. These surfers who only ever leave their comfort zones when they follow newsfeed links.
Google is obviously trying to win back traffic lost to social networks:
- G+ gives a social dimension to search.
- Penguin clears the way for only displaying results from the most visited sites on the Net like Wikipedia, Amazon and eBay.
- Knowledge Graph removes the need to leave Google by displaying a website’s content as a pop-up next to search results.
We can already ask Google the weather, for flight times and we can use natural language to do math like convert temperatures and find percentages.
The more recent changes suggest the Big G is changing its role from search engine to oracle. A know-it-all computer that gives instant answers to questions and expectations before you have chance to fully posit them.
Google’s current executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, openly says Google’s future is to answer questions without providing links to websites.
Is it time to forget Google and search engines as a source of traffic and to begin concentrating all efforts in social network marketing?
Search engine traffic will become increasingly hard to get as search engines move away from providing links and begin giving answers with links to content on websites relegated to source links credited at the bottom of the search page below the ads.
Start planning your social media strategy and begin building your social media presence in preparation for the change in search technology.