Penguin has made a surprise resurgence with the 2.1 update, and it has SEOs scrambling. Not necessarily because it hit them though; it’s more the fact that it was a surprise and it’s been hard to track exactly what the fallout has been. Who was hit by the mighty penalizing hammer of Google? Who received a nice little ranking boost? We finally have the info to answer these questions.
Glenn Gabe at the company G-Squared Interactive has done a thorough analysis of a selection of websites judged to be impacted by the algorithmic change. Using these sites as a sample, he was able to put together the most important factors of the new Penguin 2.1. You may be wondering why we hold the opinion of Mr. Gabe in such high esteem. Well, he did the same thing for both Penguin 1.0 and 2.0 and in both of those cases, his analysis proved to be spot on, so he is rightfully seen as the authority in the matter.
To start, according to Gabe, Penguin 2.1 was fairly substantial, easier being bigger than the 2.0 update. It focused, again, on webspam, but this time is had a handful of very specific targets in mind. Here’s what they are:
- Forum Spam: This includes links in forum posts and links in your forum bio, especially if they are exact match anchor text links.
- Do Follow Blogs: This one is going to be a killer for a lot of people. Blogs that heavily use do follow links in the body may be seen as attempts to game the system. You can still link in your blog, but make it natural and do it sparingly.
- Blogrolls: In case you don’t know (and many people don’t) blogrolls are the links to other blogs you see on the sidebar of some blogs. These are now seen as a form of link trading, which isn’t looked upon well. It’s okay to link to a handful of close associates, but don’t get too crazy and don’t trade with strangers, kids.
- Directories: Apparently some sties still think these are a good idea, and they are just hammering rankings. If you’re listed in big spammy directories, abort immediately! Send emails or use disavow, but get out of there.
- Blog Comments: This has been hit even harder now than last time. When you comment on a blog, don’t include a link in your comment, don’t include a link in your signature, and don’t make your username a link. So pretty much what I’m trying to say here is no links at all in blog comments.
If you want to stay safe, it’s actually pretty easy. There are a lot of people out there giving a lot of different advice, but there’s only one thing you really need to keep in your head: don’t build unnatural links. That’s really it. Create good content and link when it makes sense. Try and game the system and you’ll get hammered.