If you have had a website over the last few years you are likely familiar with Penguin and Panda updates. This latest update was expected, and as usual a lot of webmasters around the internet are crying when they see the results the update. This update will really not be much different than the previous updates as far as what it is looking for.
Previous penguin updates have targeted:
Spammy backlinks: Lots of poor quality links from blog comments or forums or otherwise undesirable sites fall into this category. This is why many link “detoxifiers” have sprouted up in the last few years to help people identify the worst links so they can get them removed or disavow them.
Paid links: The first rule of link buying is you don’t talk about link buying. In a recent post I talked about how a company was openly talking with T-mobile about buying/selling links and how this is exactly the sort of attention you don’t want to have. This is the reason why Google targets this. If you are bad enough to get caught you really deserve it. Private blog networks fall into the paid links category, so if you plan to use them make sure they don’t look like garbage in case your competitor calls you out.
Exact match anchor text: We all know that to rank you want to have links that tell us what your site is about. If you are selling blue aluminum box tops (something random I came up with) and half the links to your site say this there is a great chance that you will not be ranking. This problem builds right into the next part of over optimized anchor text.
As I wrote about before you want a good ratio of different links to your site. You want most of your links to be url, url & brand, brand, brand & keyword or brand & partial keyword. These anchor’s should make up the bulk of the links to your site. Keywords you want to rank for should make up 1-2% (per keyword) of your anchors. The over optimization penalty seems to be flexible, where some larger sites with lots of internal pages seem to be given some leeway without penalty. Most smaller sites do not get this and if the anchor text for those sites are off they will have problems.
The last part is speculation. Many people are waiting for a time when Google has a better understanding of the web, and enough CPU to be able to take other factors into consideration. The thing they are talking about is contextual links. If you buy bluealuminumboxtops.com and use it as a PBN you may not have many problems reusing it as a site to do lead generation for windows. However in the future when Google is able to put more pieces of the puzzle together they may make it more difficult for this site to pass good link juice to other domains, or make it harder to rank if you decide to re-purpose it like many do when they set up a PBN.
Since it can be hard to find lots of good quality sites in a specific niche many SEO’s will buy expired domains of unrelated niches and put new content on it of the niche they are after. Today this works great as long as your competitors do not catch you and report you (this is why you block robots on your PBN’s so your competitors need to look harder to find them).
So while this does not exactly cover what happened in Penguin 3.0, it is a look into the things you will need to watch out for if you decide to do SEO to your websites in the future. They will keep doing penguin updates, so if you are not careful with what you are doing, you could find your site has been hit. I always recommend that site owners that do their own SEO record EVERYTHING they do. This way if anything gets screwed up it will take far less time for whoever you hire to fix it to undo the damage. That should save you enough to make it worth your while.