In the quest to improve search results and clean up the SEO industry, On October 4th, 2013 Penguin 2.1 was implemented by Google. Penguin 2.1 was another iteration of Penguin to devalue sites rankings that perform in unethical link building practices.
Matt Cutts has had an axe to grind with the SEO industry for quite some time. This is quite fair, considering that SEOs all over the world try and find loopholes around the algorithm to get their sites to rank well with less effort and unnatural methods. If your website was affected negatively on October 4th and 5th of 2013, your site was involved in one or more of the following tactics:
It is very clear in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines that they do not agree with paid links. A paid link means that you paid the individual to have a link on their site that links back to yours. Google feels as though this is a bad tactic and is not a fair way to evaluate someone’s link profile and online marketing efforts. Penguin 2.1 goes deeper into the paid link world to eradicate such activities to provide more natural and improved search results.
Google evaluates your link profile in several different ways. One way to determine relevance is by the anchor text of that link. In years past having lots of links with the same anchor text with a keyword phrase would increase your rankings. Now, if Google sees a large percentage of the same anchor text in your link profile they will punish your site for over-optimizing. This correlates directly with SEOs trying to focus on a broad keyword phrase and unnaturally increase your sites rankings. In order to have a successfully online marketing campaign and SEO, your link profile needs to be natural and have a large variation of references with different anchor text.
Google has caught on to blog networks and other low quality sites that are only intended for poor content and low quality guest blogs. Your site cannot be associated with low quality sites. Low quality sites only hinder you from consistent increases in rankings. Penguin 2.1 focused on devaluing low quality links and if your site had a large percentage of such links, you would have seen a negative impact from this change.
If you have not heard of a link farm or link scheme, listen up. Participating in link schemes is the fastest way to get a manual penalty on your site. Penguin 2.1 focused more on devaluing link schemes. And yes, people still buy links from link farms and link schemes hoping to gain short-term success.
If you site was affected and you are paying for SEO or some form of ongoing digital marketing that includes SEO, call your SEO company and have them explain to you the issues and what is responsible. You current SEO team may not be responsible for these negative results, but they will need to have an action plan on getting your site in recovery mode. If your SEO company tries to blame Google and blame other outside factors, move on and find a company to help your site recover.
Penguin 2.1 focuses on quality results, set aside all of SEOs complaining about the algorithm change and how they were “building” links ethically and using white hat tactics and got hit. We have seen so many companies get caught red handed with buying links and saying they have all of these great content marketing efforts. When SEOs buy links and try and take the easy way out, they are trying to artificially boost their rankings through link equity. Generally, the types of companies that really focus on these tactics are not going to have the best website or most resources. We understand that their are exceptions, and some SEOs lie about their tactics and businesses get hurt by this all the time. By making these changes, Google has really made a strong effort to return quality search results. They want to reward websites that are well-respected, provide great content, tools and other resources for their users. Content marketing and getting your website to rank the right way is a very difficult task, but if done correctly your site will rank well and never be negatively affected by these changes.