The flightless bird is out and about and Google’s listings are no longer what they once were. The fact is that Google’s Penguin update has had the whole world of IM and SEO in a tizzy because they seem to have started looking for over-optimization of websites.
To be honest, I don’t get why they’re doing this, because it will definitely lead to Google Bowling of competitor websites. However, for the time being, there are things that you can do to beat the Penguin at its own game.
Optimize Like a Person
First and foremost, you need to optimize your website the way a real person would optimize it. Remember that if you were to follow Google’s true plans for SEO, you’d be optimizing your website by using link bait. Link bait tends to get passed around from person to person and it gets links published in a wide variety of different forums.
This means that the old method of relying on just one two types of links is out the window. The key here is link diversity – you need to have lots of different places where links come from, including places like blog posts, news sites, blog comments, wiki sites, press releases, software sites, document sharing sites and more. In other words, your link profile should look like what it would look like if real people were doing it instead of SEO people.
Remember Lots of Different Anchor Texts
Now more than ever, lots of different kinds of anchor text is going to be incredibly important. If before you tried to use three different variations, try doing ten variations these days. Again, real people would use lots of different kinds of anchor text when they publish a link back to your website and so you need to have lots of different kinds of anchor text as well.
Remember to Link to Lots of Internal Pages
I know this is a standard part of SEO, but the fact is that more than ever, you need to remember to link to all kinds of different pages within your website. Real people would do that and if all you do is create links back to your main page or even a handful of articles, then you will find that you are going to get hit by the Penguin.
Some Pages Should Have More Links than Others
Another thing that you can do if you want to get past the Penguin is to ensure that different pages on your website have different numbers of links pointing to them. Don’t do 300 links to every page. Some pages should have 1,000 links while others should have just a few dozen links. Why? It’s simple – that’s what real links would look like. They’d actually have some pages going viral while other pages get a lot less love.
Remember That No Follow Matters
Even before the whole Penguin update, I had been mentioning that we should be looking to get plenty of no follow links. The fact is that Google’s engineers are not stupid and there is nothing to stop their software from counting up the no follow links in addition to the do follow links. If you were using link bait, you’d have a mix of different kinds of links rather than 95% do follow links. Do you really think that Google doesn’t know how to spot a website which has almost all do follow links?
Here’s another rule to throw out with the Penguin update. Well, a rule that shouldn’t be followed with the same regularity we used to follow it anyway. It seems to me that the Penguin update is designed to weed out those who are heavy link builders and who like to do well, SEO. Google’s engineers are well aware of every trick that we use in order to make our links look more natural and one of the most popular tricks is to use drip feeds of links.
Now, I’m not saying that drip feeds of links needs to be abandoned. Rather, your goal should be to make it appear similar to that of a link bait article which gets links. At first, only a handful of links may be created, but as it starts to gain steam, it will have bursts of links showing up because it gets popular in various, unpredictable bursts. So the ideal here is to try to do something that looks like link bait, where you drip your links at first and then have occasional bursts which would look like links which were created by people who started sending your page viral.
Don’t Forget to Try to Go Viral
By the way, speaking of all this, probably the best way to get around the flightless bird of Google is to simply do what they want you to do – create content which is likely to go viral. You want to put in interesting content which is also funny and useful so that people will want to tell their friends about it. All the other methods are designed to emulate this, but ultimately, going viral is by far the best method of all to combat the penguin.
Consider Other Methods of Getting Traffic
You know, in addition to looking for ways to make your links appear more natural, you should also consider the original purpose of links – to actually provide a useful bit of information on another website which a web surfer may want to go and take a look at. So, here are a few tips for getting your stuff to bypass Google completely:
Seriously – make a funny video and your website could easily go viral by simply getting a link listed underneath the video on YouTube or other video sharing sites. You really just need something which is fun in order for it to go viral.
And remember as well that there are different definitions of going viral. A video doesn’t have to get 59 million hits to be considered a video which has gone viral. I’d personally be very happy to get 100,000 hits on each video I create. This would mean a significant amount of traffic and it would also mean a steady drip of traffic going forward. Plus, that would be enough to me the fans I need to keep coming back looking for more of my videos.
The key to doing viral videos is to make them into something which is controversial, funny or both. If you happened to have videotaped the president in a compromising moment for example, it doesn’t matter if your video is funny. However, since most of us are not likely to get such material, your next best bet is to be really funny. If you’re not sure what to do, check out Funny or Die and see what they do to get the chuckles from visitors to that site. Or just hire a pro to either create a video for you or to create a script for you.
Try Article Marketing
Believe it or not, Google isn’t the only place where people go to get information. People do go to lots of other well known web sites. So for example, if you were to get a link onto a major financial blog about your financial services company, that would help you to get the traffic that you need on your website. How does one go about getting those links? By using article directories for the purpose that they were originally created.
In essence, Ezine articles and other article directories didn’t start out their lives with the intention of providing backlinks directly from the website. In fact, you really don’t want to get traffic directly from those websites because the traffic that comes in from those sites is going to be very unfocused traffic which isn’t interested in making a purchase. Instead, consider the fact that these directories were intended to provide free articles to websites and newsletters in exchange for a backlink to your site.
Now I know that some people still insist on the duplicate content nonsense, but I assure you that this method doesn’t care a whit about duplicate content. In essence, your goal is to get traffic directly from these websites rather than traffic coming from Google indexing the backlinks. So, if a website which gets 100,000 hits a day decides to post your article, then you will get lots of direct traffic from very targeted buyers who are much more likely to make a purchase. No worries about the Penguin required.
The best way to do this is to write very long, well put together articles which include really useful information which people will really want to syndicate. Avoid including lots of links in the body of the article itself – that looks spammy and will reduce your chances of getting your material picked up by major websites or ezines.
Consider as well joining the Directory of Ezines so that you can find major ezines to whom you can pitch your articles directly. Yes, it’s an expense, but one which is well worth it if you are serious about article marketing.
Oh and for the love of all that’s good in the world, if you don’t know how to write or if English is not your native language and you haven’t quite mastered the language, please go out and find someone who can write your articles for you. Yes, you’ll pay decent money to get decent stuff written (and no, going to Fiverr and paying five bucks for a 500 word article is not likely to be a good idea). You should expect to pay around $50-$200 for a decent article which will actually be likely to get picked up by major sites for syndication. Personally, I charge $99 for such articles though there are others who charge much more. You should not expect a decent article for less than $50. And when I say article, I mean an article – one which includes original research, including at least one interview with an industry professional rather than regurgitated junk that someone found in a web search.
The Google Bowling Problem
Okay, I could go on with lots of additional ideas for generating traffic in spite of the penguin, but that’s not what this post is really about. Instead, it’s about beating the Penguin at its own game. Now, one of the biggest problems that the Penguin has introduced is the dreaded over-optimization e-mail.
This isn’t the first time that Google has penalized websites for over-optimization. Back around 2005, they tried to do something similar and it ended up leading to a new kind of negative SEO called Google Bowling.
In essence, the idea was to create thousands of junk links to your competitors and then watch their rankings tank (while your rankings would hopefully go up). The concept kind of dried up because Google’s engineers realized there was no way to know who was creating the junk links, however with the Penguin, it seems to be back as a possibility at least. Unfortunately, until Google decides to fix this issue, I don’t see any easy solutions.
The best suggestion that I can come up with if you are hit with Google Bowling and an over-optimization e-mail from Google is to contact them directly and explain that you believe you were a victim of Google Bowling. Beyond that, be sure to create plenty of your own more useful links so that you can get them indexed and hopefully have them outweigh the junk links.
The Penguin is just Google’s latest attempt to fix the problem of people trying to cheat the rankings. However, ultimately, it will become just another of the many terms which we used to worry about, including the farmer and the panda to name just a few. Bottom line – keep building quality backlinks to your website and keep putting up quality content which really is useful and you shouldn’t have to worry too much about the flightless bird of Google.