7 Link Building Tips After The Google Penguin Update

by Stuart McHenry May 1, 2012

Last week Google unleashed an algorithm that devastated many webmasters. Many of these webmasters have been building links to their websites for years. In a recent poll the Google Penguin Update hit more than 64% of webmasters. Now more than ever link building has got more technical and only the skilled are surviving.

The technical side of link building has been here for years, many just never chose to adopt it. Now those webmasters and SEO’s are standing there holding their heads and wondering what went wrong. In the past links really couldn’t hurt your websites rankings, but in the Google Penguin era, they can.

Here are my tips for building quality links in a post penguin era:

Is the domain cached in Google?
This seems like a no-brainer but this happens more than people know and is the easiest one to check. Just Google “cache:domain.com” and if it’s cached you will see the date of the last crawl and cache.

What other websites link out from this domain?
I always look to ensure the owner of the domain name isn’t link crazy-nut-job. If they link out to too many domains the link isn’t going to pass much weight. More important is whom they are linking out to. Do they link out to quality websites? Are the websites they link out to on-topic? You have to be able to answer “yes” to both of these questions.

Does this website rank for anything in Google?
A great sign of quality is to check and see if this domain ranks for anything in Google. I simply place the domain into SEMRush and check it’s ranking history. This takes all but 30 seconds. If the website doesn’t rank anywhere in Google then chances are you won’t either, at least from this link. The more keywords a domain ranks for the better the quality signal.

How do the websites with outgoing links rank?
Yes, I always check to see if a website is ranking for their anchor text. Now, this isn’t always foolproof but it’s another great quality indicator.

What type of content is on their domain?
I will take 2-3 articles or pages and check for duplicate / poorly written content. Penguin was all about the quality of links that point to your website. If you have too many links on crappy spun article blogs, you run the risk of penalizing your domain. I usually check for duplicate content two ways by using Copyscape and Google. For Google, I copy a few sentences and paste them into the search engine with quotes around them. This will return exact matches from all over the Internet. Often times you will see the same sentence come up on article websites. If you see this, run! You don’t want a link from a source like that.

Dropped Domains
It seems the Indonesian economy is fueled by the dropped domain marketplace. Dropped domains are a poor quality signal that can hurt your website. People snatch these up for the sole purpose of selling links. They find a PR4 domain make it look legit and start their paid links business this way. Stay away from dropped domains. An easy way to check is to simply Google “domain.com + expired” and see what comes up. Often times there are a few dozen websites that list the dates and URL’s of expiring domains.

Location of Link
The location of the link on the page has mattered for a long time but people still ignore this. Footer links and sidebar sitewide links can still pass weight but I go for the home-run. I cannot be clearer when I say get your link within the content and as high up on the page as possible. Also, too many footer or sitewide links will trigger a penalty.

If you diversify your anchor text and stick to these seven link building tips your rankings will skyrocket. Beating the Penguin isn’t about being lucky; it’s about smart link building.

Stuart McHenry
Stuart McHenry is a US-based SEO Consultant focusing on link building, content marketing, local SEO, and reputation management. Follow Stuart on Twitter @smindsrt

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