There is much to be said about the Google Penguin update that was launched at the end of April of this year. A quick Google search on the topic will result in no lack of blog articles by SEOs and web marketers all across the globe. Due to the fact that much of the Penguin update is directed toward negatively impacting the search engine rankings of those websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, the language and tone are genuinely mixed – so much so that the casual reader may be inclined to believe that the Penguin update is akin to some monstrous aquatic bird that has waddled into the city and taken to swallowing unsuspecting websites like they were some kind of tasty krill snack. Nice visual, sure, but it’s not true at all.
Granted, someone always comes away stinging after a search algorithm change (or SPAM filter addition, in this case), but the Penguin update, by Google’s own estimates, has only impacted about 3% of English-language search queries. Those sites most impacted were actively participating in black-hat website optimization antics such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, link schemes, and the use of duplicate content. So, if you can equate sites that leverage disreputable SEO practices with tasty krill, you might be able to say that Penguin got the feast of a lifetime. Sure, it could also be stated that there are a number of sites (albeit small) that were errantly impacted by the Penguin update, but for the most part Penguin’s impact was right on target.
Still, you hear some shouting and raging about “over-optimization penalties” that came with the Penguin update. This is not baseless caterwauling, mind you. There is such a thing as over-optimization of a site – and it can easily lead to the opposite of the desired effect. Of course, this does NOT mean that SEO has taken any kind of heavy hit. All standards and practices are still in place and working as they should be. Content is still king. But those who develop content for sites and work on link building efforts are well advised to work a little smarter. Engaging in careless link building, for instance, is an easy way to run afoul with the Penguin – and here we’re talking specifically about over-optimizing your anchor text or using anchor text that is similar in many instances. As with everything in life, variety is a good thing. If you think about it, anything that should be natural should also appear natural. Utilizing the same link anchor text in your hundreds of link-building efforts screams “manufactured.” Google gets very suspicious if all of your anchor text is identical and is likely to feed your site to the Penguin.
Here’s where the extra effort pays off. Varied anchor text lends credibility and relevancy to your links. It’s easy to use your top targeted keywords as anchor text – as well as a number of variations with other keyword phrases. This mix also allows you to make full use of all the available keywords and phrases that are associated with your product or service.
In order to understand how your link profile looks now, we suggest using two tools.
Just replace YOURSITE below with your URL name in a new browser tab:
If your URL (or similar brand name links) are not your primary anchor text, you could be Penguin Food.
So how do you diversify your anchor text? If you throw in some “click here for…” or “read more about…” text, you’re on your way. You can also go to Google’s Keyword Tool and find some phrase match keyword phrases to use in your anchor text – rather than the same exact match for each link.
In addition, use your company name and add www.yourdomain.com references in your anchor text. All of a sudden, everything appears quite natural. Your rankings stay the same. The Penguin looks for food elsewhere. That’s a win-win scenario, yeah?