Author Topic: Penguin  (Read 28308 times)

2much

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Penguin
« on: May 03, 2012, 05:44:56 PM »
I know I've been MIA for a really long time, but it's always good to see familiar names and faces here.  3 babies later I finally am at a point where I can focus on work and am starting to rebuild my practically extinct business.  I've only just looked around a bit so I'm not sure what sorts of things you guys have been talking about but I thought I'd start by sharing some of the info that I've been finding regarding penguin.

Until now I've been running a couple of large sites, but they got hit really badly with Penguin.  I did a ton of backlinks analysis (loving linkresearchtools) to compare our site, with sites that dropped, with sites that are doing well.  I found a few things:

*  My sites had pretty high anchor density with just a few target keywords
*  All of my links were paid links
*  The backlink anchors were very artificial.  All of them were "kw kw" and we didn't have enough variety (click here for ___, Site.com, etc)
*  We didn't have much of a presence on social media sites
*  Our ratio of paid artificial links and natural looking links was just too low

The sites that are doing well have pretty good looking backlinks profiles.  Everything that I mentioned above was reversed on sites doing well.  One of the sites that has a gorgeous backlink profile:

www.brickhousesecurity.com

Consequently, I think this update has been about increasing the importance of social media markers and givin less importance to backlinks and anchor text.  By replacing social media markers with anchor density and other easily manipulated metircs Google can finally combat paid links, link networks, google bowlinig, etc.

I don't know how many of you are still doing old-school SEO with smaller sites/brands but to me this is a pretty big game changer.  I believe that to rank well now requires systems and processes for white hat link building as well as active social media campaigns.

A few ideas of the methods I was planning to use to combat this:

*  Create and promote infographics
*  Create a database of sites that accept guest bloggers and work on establishing a name as an author and then distribute content on these guest blog sites.
*  Run contests to increase likes and tweets in social media world
*  Doing old-school PR and contacting sites, establishing conversations, and trying to figure out how to get people to pick up stories and share our stuff

I am having trouble systematizing all of this.  In the past things were easy because all we did was built up a large network of people willing to sell links, then we found clients, sold links, ran reports to make sure the links were still up, paid through automatic paypal subscriptions.  Bam.  It was a hands-off, easy business model.  It was easy, made money, effort-less.

Now, it seems very labor intensive.  I hired an intern at $10 an hour who is a communications major who I believe can work on all of this, but that isn't terribly scalable.

Anyways, just thought I'd throw out some thoughts/observations and see if any of this rings a bell with anyone.

Hope everyone is doing well! 

Drastic

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Re: Penguin
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2012, 06:15:29 PM »
Glad to see you back in the saddle, we need more discussion like this.

Personally, what stands out on my winners (or keepers) and losers are:
*  My sites had pretty high anchor density with just a few target keywords
*  The backlink anchors were very artificial.  All of them were "kw kw" and we didn't have enough variety (click here for ___, Site.com, etc)

Pretty much sites that had a couple or few campaigns run on a few specific keys without much variation on anchors and link types seem to have suffered.

This doesn't seem to affect my stuff much:
*  We didn't have much of a presence on social media sites
I have some sites with a social profile, getting likes and such regularly, but took a hit. I have sites with no social stuff that are doing better.
*  Our ratio of paid artificial links and natural looking links was just too low
I don't see any difference in link type or placement as long as there is some variance. I think the paid type and natural looking can be lumped together when not supported by lesser fill-in type links. More of a natural looking link profile overall, not quantity of natural looking specific links, if that makes sense.

My guess, and I've not really looked in depth as I think it's still early, is having little anchor variance on lots of links, and having a lot of similar links with no variety can hurt you. All in-content and in-context links sounds like it would be great, but in my mind a site should also have some blogroll/sidebar/etc type links, and/or comments, and/or forum links, etc. Social can play a part in it (a link is a link), but doesn't look like a specific social requirement from where I'm sitting.

Gurtie

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Re: Penguin
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2012, 06:57:28 PM »
I'm not sure social is a requirement at present but I'm pretty convinced its moving that way - not that a site needs its own huge social presence, but that within its niche it should have at least an average number of social mentions, links and interactions. I'm thinking of the social graph as a bit like links used to be - the way people talk about sites online has changed totally from where it was 10 years ago, but the 'if people are talking about it then that's a recommendation' is still as valid today as it was then, if the way they measure 'talking about it' can change.

Harder to game or shortcut to this though as I'm a lot less confident of my ability to create social links which will pass a hand inspection without hard work than I am of being able to get paid links which would pass hand inspection.  That's definitely possible at the moment but all of those social links which are being mapped are really hard to replicate in a high enough volume network to be useful, moving forward, imho.


Chunkford

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Re: Penguin
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2012, 09:17:22 PM »
From what I've read so far (it's too early to test myself) it looks like penguin is to do with anchor text variance.
It seems that if you have too many links using a keyphrase then it backfires and has a null/negative effect.
TBH, if you think about it, what's common with most backlinks that try and game the results? A high percentage of keyworded anchor text for starters.
To me this make perfect sense and I'm surprised this hasn't happened sooner.
"If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions"

Chunkford

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Re: Penguin
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2012, 09:22:15 PM »
Have you guys seen this case study? http://www.branded3.com/tweets-vs-rankings

Provides interesting reading on social signals, albeit just twitter ones :)
"If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions"

Rooftop

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Re: Penguin
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2012, 10:02:55 PM »
One thing I'd mention re penguin is that it appears to be very head-term specific.  Big assumption here: The pain I am dealing with at the moment is penguin related - however the timing at least supports that.

Big, obvious head terms that have been supported with exact match anchors have dropped. Less obvious, but still valuable terms that had been targeted in the same way still OK and even up.  In fact it's mostly home + 2 major category pages that have tanked for us.

sugarkane

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Re: Penguin
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2012, 10:14:14 PM »
> mostly home...tanked

Ditto.

A site where I've done next to nothing linkwise for the domain but plenty for the deep pages is doing fine.
I'd rather decline two drinks than one German adjective.

hungrygoose

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Re: Penguin
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2012, 02:01:26 PM »
Damn penguin.

For me I had a few sites and 1 client site tank.  I think it's looking like anchor text because well, pre penguin that's how to get a site ranking.  The sites that survived are the few I made directory links to, these are pretty good because their anchor text is either URL or Visit Site. 

What I am seeing working now is:

  • Sites with weird paid links - I have a debt management site doing fairly well with this.
    Big Brands - Because they get a lot of "brand" links eg http://www.brand.com/category
    Weird 301 things happening.  I haven't tested but maybe 301ing is a way out of this. or 307?
    Looking through digital point (i know...) it's interesting that a lot of the sites selling links are now showing URL anchor text in their blogrolls.  For at least 1 site I follow, this is working.
    EMD + 1 page of content... :(
    High quality spun content on 2.0 and good article sites is working for a friend of mine, I'm trying to replicate. These are then backed up with RSS and bookmarks.


Strangely I'm not really seeing a lot of EMD's falling as harder than over optimised non-keyworded domains.  Sure some have dived but overall it seems an EMD will drop 5-10-20 places but a non-EMD will drop 4-50-100.











Rumbas

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Re: Penguin
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2012, 04:53:49 PM »
2much back in the saddle?! Awesome, good to have you back here girl :)

And back with a great post :) I think you're on the ball here - it all boils down to anchor text imo. Think it was Dave (N) that said somewhere that;

there is no anchor text

I kind of believe that as it would kill a lot of the text link spam. If Google would switch to looking a lot more at neighborhoods, context, authority and social media - they could more or less discrad anchor text - and even penialize for it as they know it's seo's that work the anchors. Everyone else is just happy with a "click here" or "read more".

It's about trying to fake a natural link profile - which is hard for an seo as when presented with a link opp, you simply can't pass the option to have a keyword rather than just the URL etc :)

4Eyes

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Re: Penguin
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2012, 05:02:05 PM »
yeah - we are seeing the same.

All our client sites survived OK - we take care with article spam, all keywords are rotated and a realistic mix is used.

OTOH - one of our joint venture sites got whacked - down from #3 to #57 (approx), then climbed back up to page 3 after a few days.
On that one we got lazy and tried a load of spammy links that were sitewide, non-relevant to the site content, and too heavy on the main keyword.

I will be have a go at reviving it by buffering some links in through relevant on-topic feeder sites - and doing some social stuff on it.

2much

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Re: Penguin
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2012, 11:42:56 PM »
Thanks guys it's great to be back here and I'm hoping with more valuable info than just this ;-)

I just bit the bullet and paid for a full membership of linkresearchtools and it hurt but I don't regret it.  I've been running reports on sites in my client's industry that are doing better, and sites that tanked.   The picture looks different now.

I'm almost certainly we ARE talking about an anchor over-optimization penalty.  One of my client's sites lost it's long tail and went to the 2nd page for it's main keyword (which is also it's name).  Looking at the anchor density, it's quite high.  I think if you go over 20% you trigger an alarm.

Now here's where I think it gets tricky.  I did find some sites that are doing better after penguin that have even higher anchor density than 20%.  The difference between their site, and my client's site, is that, upon human review, their anchors look more natural.

My hypothesis is that when the anchor density for a money term is too high, it triggers an alarm that gets a human to review at their web spam center in India.  Then the human determines if those links are natural or not.  The data I was seeing was not discernable to a computer but easy for a human to determine what looks real and what doesn't.

If it's just an Anchor over-optimization penalty, we should be able to recover by swtiching around the anchors on all the paid links that we have, while simultaenously building social media / web 2.0 links.

Of course the problem is doing this in a scaleable manner.  If anybody knows of a service that offers an affordable/scaleable social media service, please let me know.  In the meantime I am trying to build it myself. 

Other metrics that I used was deep link ratio, percentage of total anchors by total links, percentage of links by different categories, etc.  The only commonaliteis I found was anchor text density and anchor text profile.

Hopefully it's just an algorithmic change and the sites will improve as we switch around the anchor density.

My days of making free money are over, now I'm actually having to work for it ;-)

2much

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Re: Penguin
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2012, 11:46:31 PM »
More of a natural looking link profile overall,
-- I totally agree! Sites that have natural looking profiles to the human eye are the ones that are ranking well.

I'm thinking of the social graph as a bit like links used to be
-- Agree to this too.  In the past blogs didn't exist and social media didn't exist so links were votes.  Now everyone has a social media footprint so I think they are shifting the emphasis from links as votes to likes/mentions/blogs as votes.  That's where/how they are incorporating the social media markers.  Perhaps at this time they are not turned up so high, but I think in the future it'll become more important.  This is where authorrank will prbably become important too.

That's definitely possible at the moment but all of those social links which are being mapped are really hard to replicate in a high enough volume network to be useful, moving forward, imho
-- I know!! Whoever figures out an inexpensive and scaleable way to do this will make a lot of money!

EMD + 1 page of content...
-- What's EMD?

It's about trying to fake a natural link profile - which is hard for an seo as when presented with a link opp, you simply can't pass the option to have a keyword rather than just the URL
-- Yeah it hurts to pay for a link and have hte anchor say "Click here".  Ouch!  But I think it's essential now.

Chunkford

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Re: Penguin
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2012, 10:08:16 AM »
according to this this article, it's not just link over optimisation but it's also the relevance of the content surrounding the link
http://www.micrositemasters.com/blog/penguin-analysis-seo-isnt-dead-but-you-need-to-act-smarter-and-5-easy-ways-to-do-so/

TBH it makes sense really.
Before hand people were slapping links all over the pace with the anchor text of their chosen phrase they wanted to rank for.
People were also stuffing their links on pages so diluted in relevance even humans couldn't work out what the site was about.

From G's perspective this is sign of link spamming and something their algos can easily detect now.

I think what we will see more of now is dedicated themed link sources e.g. motor, law, travel etc which will allow a page relevant to rank for a phrase that the on page SEO is optimised for not for what the link anchor text says.
"If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions"

Chunkford

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Re: Penguin
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2012, 10:10:37 AM »
-- What's EMD?

Exact Match Domain
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sugarkane

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Re: Penguin
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2012, 10:59:41 AM »
> relevance of the content surrounding the link

Yep I reckon this has been turned up. One dinged site is still ranking fine for terms containing a certain word. The ODP listing for the site goes something like:

BRAND - UK *Word* blah blah blah

So there's plenty of non-anchor links closely followed by that word spread around.
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