The Penguin update has taken everyone by surprise – it didn’t just change the way that Google calculated the value of different kinds of links. It also made sure that the links we did create could count against us if they didn’t appear to be natural. So how do we build backlinks now that the flightless bird has taken wing? Well, here are ten tools to help you deal with the Penguin.
Not Really All Tools
I should point out that these are not necessarily all “tools” – at least not in the traditional sense of the term. Some of these might better be defined as methods rather than tools, though I will recommend specific services for most of these. The thing is, Penguin really doesn’t like automated link building and as such, you need to try to find ways around it.
Let’s start with a tool which isn’t so much a tool as a website. The Directory of Ezines is exactly what it sounds like – a directory of online magazines. Now why would this be so valuable as a tool in the post Penguin world?
Well aside from the fact that Charlie Page, the owner of the DOE adds lots of webinars and other information for free to his directory, simply having an up to date list of ezines which are available online can be incredibly valuable for article marketing.
You see, the nice thing about article marketing (not article directory marketing which hasn’t worked in years) is that it allows you to bypass Google completely. Put together a great article related to your niche, post it to your website, get it indexed and then offer it to ezines which relate to your niche. You can then get highly targeted links from every single one of the ezines which bring real customers directly as opposed to going through the search engines.
Moving on from the DOE, which is paid (though in my opinion, worth it), let’s look at another tool which is totally free and totally worth your while. SEOQuake is a tool which is designed to allow you to find out more information about specific websites. This is perfect when you’re looking for blogs to leave comments on (you can avoid the PRN/A or PR0 blogs) as well as when you’re looking for places to put guest blog posts. The only catch? It works only on Firefox.
You might not think of RoboForm as being an SEO tool per se and it’s really not. However, in a post penguin world, you want to try building links manually. However, that doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to fill in all your information manually. For a minimal fee, you can buy a license for RoboForm and use it to fill in all the boring details on each blog that you visit to leave comments on so that you only need to write the actual comment manually.
In looking around for tools which were still useful in a post Panda world, I came across Ahrefs and I have to say that it does look impressive. This is actually a series of tools, including a site explorer (similar to the now defunct Yahoo Site Explorer which everyone used to use) as well as link analysis to help you decide whether or not the links that you are getting are worth anything.
The best part is that you can start for free and then build up to using the paid services later on. Ahrefs offers a pretty competent free option which includes lots of useful features and which should be fine for someone doing SEO on a single website. Those who need more power can consider one of the upgrade options.
I know what people here are thinking – SENuke is exactly the sort of tool that can get you into trouble in a post Panda world. And you’re right – it can, if you don’t know how to use the tool correctly. On the other hand, if you use SENuke in a smart way, this is still the tool to beat.
And yes, it’s godawful expensive, but they also work hard to make sure that the system can create good quality links even in a post Panda world. Those who want something a bit cheaper may consider going with Magic Submitter, which is also actively updated to try to keep up with the latest changes.
However, be sure that whatever you do, you follow the instructions carefully and don’t rush willy-nilly to build backlinks. I can guarantee that in a post Penguin world, those who don’t take the time to understand how these tools work will ultimately find that their efforts are for naught and that they are going to end up with the dreaded e-mail from Google about over-optimization.
Some of the old tools are still great and still worth using. Brad Callen’s Niche Finder is a good example. It’s still my go to tool for finding quality keywords to base my writing on and the best part is that it’s totally “kosher” in a post Penguin world. No, it won’t directly help you to build backlinks to your website, but it can help you to figure out which keywords to target, which can be equally important, especially when you need to build links manually.
Speaking of old favorites, I still use Traffic Travis all the time. It has been updated to work nicely with the flightless bird of Google and it allows you to figure out what your competition is doing. Again, Traffic Travis is not so much a tool for building backlinks so much as it is a phenomenal tool for doing some excellent research and figuring out what works and what doesn’t work in this post penguin world.
The best part about Traffic Travis by the way is that it is still offered in both free and paid versions, meaning that you don’t need to worry about spending a fortune to buy it, at least not at first. Eventually, if you need more power, feel free to pick up the paid version. Or just grab it now and experience everything it has to offer. But know that it’s not an absolute necessity.
I wrote about this a while back and showed how you could use Ping.FM in conjunction with HootSuite to build yourself a whole profile of free backlinks. This is still very true and no, I don’t think you’ll pay much of a penalty in a post Penguin world. The key here is to make sure to vary what you put down periodically so that you don’t end up with a whole bunch of anchor texts that look exactly the same.
This does require some extra steps on your part, however the nice thing is that it’s still free to use this combination of tools and that means that this is still a great method doing those backlinks that are all important, especially in the post Penguin world. I won’t bother will all the details of how to do it. You can read my original post on the subject, which explains all the details.
One of my most popular posts ever on this blog has been about CommentLuv. This is a plugin for WordPress, which, depending on how you have it configured can allow you to give a front page backlink to certain commenters on your blog. However, the thing that I think is most important here is not what I discussed back then so much as what you can do with this tool in order to find relevant blogs to leave do follow comments on.
In essence, by looking in the CommentLuv directory, you can actually find a list of blogs which have the plugin enabled and then find relevant blogs to post to. Use it in combination with SEOQuake to figure out which blogs are worth leaving your comments on and you’ll quickly find that you can build a nice portfolio of backlinks.
Speaking of comments on your blog, one of my favorite new services (which is also free) is Disqus. This is a multisite commenting platform which can be integrated into most kinds of blogs and websites. It allows you to build a community around your website and to allow people to have threaded conversations in your comments section.
Now, you may be wondering why this would be useful for building backlinks. In and of itself, it probably isn’t useful (though some websites do allow you to leave links within your Disqus comments without any moderation as long as you are a member of Disqus).
However, from everything I’ve seen, Disqus for whatever reason seems to engender community and discussion more so than many other platforms.
I think this may be because people are able to leave comments and see what others are saying on a variety of different websites, meaning that people tend to follow their friends (or enemies) to other websites to read what they had to say and or to comment on what they had to say. This ultimately leads to more traffic while completely avoiding the whole Google Penguin problem.