As I write Google have confirmed that they have updated their Penguin algorithm that looks at the quality of links pointing to your website.

Hopefully your rankings will have gone up or stayed the same, if they’ve gone down or go down over the next few days you may have been caught and need to look at the links that point to your site.

Here’s a quick run down on what the algorithm is and how you can protect yourself from it.

What is Google Penguin?

Links that point to your website are an important ranking signal for Google. Once ‘people’ found this out they created as many links as they possibly could from all sorts of sources to try and get up the rankings.

Think of a link as a vote for your web site.

If you buy a vote or arrange a vote its electoral fraud and you can go to jail.

If you buy a link or arrange a spammy link its Penguin fraud and you can be penalised.

The Penguin algorithm was designed to spot spammy and self generated links.

The bad ways

CautionOver the years there have been all sorts of systems created to generate links to websites from simple link exchange schemes to complicated blogging networks, what they all have in common is that you haven’t received the link for creating great content…. you’ve arranged it for going up the rankings.

Paid Links
Any link that has been purchased is against Google’s guidelines so don’t do it!

Advertising on someone else’s website is fine but make sure you use the nofollow tag in the link that tells Google not to count it as a ranking signal.

Unrelated links
If you are a florist and you have a link coming from a steel factory its a poor link and to be honest for the majority of cases Google will just ignore these but if you have a lot of unrelated links then you may get penalised.

Poor quality links
These have been to scourge of blogs and forums for years now… it’s the spammy link.

You’ve seen them in the comments section of a blog, reams of stupid comments with a link pointing to a totally unrelated website. Millions of these links have been created by link-factories around the world for the sole purpose of trying to get up the search rankings.

If you or your SEO company have done a lot of this in the past you may get penalised.

Highly optimised links
Links with a high concentration of keywords or phrases in the anchor or link text are very much frowned upon and can be seen as spam. We’ve all seem them in forums and blog posts.

“… so when I put on my new Nike trainers I felt as if I was ready to go..”

Its absolutely fine for a link to point to you just using a brand name or even www.yourname.com

How to protect yourself from Penguin’s

CorrectIts quite simple, don’t do any of the above and don’t generate links for the sole purpose of increasing your search rankings.

So how do I generate links then?

There are endless ways to generate good quality links to your website but a lot of the time its quite hard work and involves spending time and effort marketing your company and becoming active in places where your prospective customer reside.

The Internet has been around for 20 years and our lives and businesses are heavily entwined with it so if you promote yourself well the chances are you will generate links.

Make sure you create high quality content…. not lots and lots of content but a regular amount of quality information for your customers. This will get picked up on and mentioned online and offline which in turn will generate links.

It takes time and effort and its not an exact science but get going right now, plan a marketing campaign that your customers will love and watch as links slowly arrive and you start heading up the search rankings.

If you think you’ve been hit by Google Penguin then get in touch as I run a training session that will teach you how to do your own link analysis and get spammy links removed.