How Pandas & Penguins Change Your Link Building Strategy

Who would have thought that two seemingly innocent zoo animals could cause such an uproar in the SEO industry?

You’re probably tired of hearing about Panda and Penguin. I don’t blame you. Articles seem to pop up daily about how it affects your site and what you can do to recover from the algorithm updates heard ‘round the world. Hell, there are even YouTube videos about them.

You could say this is just one of those articles. And you may be right, but I’ve successfully recovered from Panda and lived to tell the tale of Penguin. Just look at our own analytics: The first line was Panda 2.5, the second Penguin.

Our post-Panda lowest days (weekends) equal our pre-Panda peak days (Tuesdays – Thursdays). And I want to tell you how we did it, all by just adjusting our link building strategy.

Build A Bridge & Get Over It

I used to buy links. There I said it. Granted, it’s been a long time since I’ve bought a link, and it’s not something I’m proud of, but it happened, and I’ll wager a lot of you have done it, too.

You can’t change the past so rub some dirt on it, and walk it off. Move on. I spent far too many hours trying to get rid of our cruddy links (not all from buying and not all from me) before realizing the attempt was fruitless.

Put your focus on building good quality links rather than trying to fix all of your crappy ones. Eventually, you’ll have a higher ratio, and you’ll get rewarded.

No Link Left Behind

I’ve never met a link I didn’t like. Scratch that: I never met a link from a quality website I didn’t like.

We used to only go after one-way links in the footer or side-bar of a website. It killed us because it so obviously was manipulated. Your job as an SEO is to make it look like you don’t exist.

Strive to get a sampling of all types of links: Content links (within the actual content and in bios for guest blogs), footer links, resource links, image links, social media links, and yes, even no-followed links. That’s the only way it’ll look like there’s not someone trying to game the system.

An Anchor Text Melting Pot

Just like you need to diversify the types of links you get, it is vitally important to have a conglomerate of anchor texts among your entire link profile. Everyone does not describe your business the exact same way, so of course everyone isn’t going to link to you in the same way.

Ensure you have brand links (ie, 352 Media Group), exact-match keyword links (ie, web design company), partial-match keyword links (ie, web design and development agency), non-descriptive links (ie, click here). We had way to many exact-match links so for 3 solid months, every time I linked, I used our brand name.

Some people go by a ratio of 7:3 branded to non-branded keywords. I don’t because there is no formula for SEO. Do what’s natural and trust your gut. If it feels shady, it probably is.

Patience, Grasshopper

“SEO is an investment; it has to incubate before you see any results.” It’s my go-to line for all of my clients. No one ever listens.

I’ve been working on cleaning up our link profile for more than two years and finally (finally!) I see the fruits of my labor with a 20+ jump to a Page 1 ranking for our top keyword. You can’t expect results immediately. Implementing the above changes today means you’ll see the effect 4, 5, 6, 12 months from now, pending on your keywords and how bad things were from the start.

Our link profile isn’t perfect. There are still too many exact-matches for my liking and not enough brand mentions, but we’ve come a long way since we’ve made this our objective and I’m happy to report Google has taken notice.

It will get frustrating. You will doubt yourself. You will curse Matt Cutts’ name. You may even get in slap flights with your computer screen. (All true stories.) But have faith in the white-hat system because it works. Google’s goal isn’t to penalize every single site; they just want to make the Web a better place. Make sure that your website is part of that better place.

Who knows what future algorithm updates holds for link building, but I can tell you one thing: Watch out zebras: You’re next.

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3 comments on “How Pandas & Penguins Change Your Link Building Strategy

  1. Patience is really important to keep yourself motivated to optimize your site. It may take months and years before your site is ranking on the first page. Don’t worry too much and focus on natural link building strategy!

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