Google has been brutalizing spammy websites for the last year with several aggressive updates. Penguin and Panda are the two most notable.
While Panda targeted poor content, Penguin was targeting, for the most part, poor links.
The question for you as a blogger or website owner is this: how do you recover and thrive in this new SEO landscape? What are some of the link-building tactics you should engage in to capitalize on these changes?
This guide will help you answer those questions…and more.
Get press release links
There are really two ways to get press release links: send your own or get included in someone else’s. You can’t really control the last one (though I will tell you what you need to do to get in someone else’s press release), so let’s focus on sending your own press release.
I’ve spoken about this before in a post about getting infographics to go viral, so I’ll just cover this quickly before I talk about the actual link anchor text.
- Compelling lead: This is what is going to stop people and draw them in, so write a killer headline and first sentence.
- Unique approach: Don’t copy anybody. Get out of the box and craft an original hook that will pull people into your press release.
- Reader problems: Know your audience and solve one of their most pressing problems. Hit their hot buttons.
Now, let’s talk about the actual links.
- Less is more – Don’t cram your press release with a ton of links. Two or three links is enough. The key is that it looks natural and doesn’t seem forced.
- Think strategically – Where are these links pointing to? Will they take your readers into a deeper discussion on a relevant topic? Or will they send them to a landing page they don’t expect? Your goal is to engage readers, not to annoy them.
- Diversify the URLs – Do not keep driving links in your press release to the same URL. If you have three links, then you should be sending them to three different URLs.
- Targeted keywords – Never waste anchor text on non-descriptive links like “read more” or “view video.” And avoid sending them to your home page too. Make your anchor text work by using targeted keywords to get the best SEO value.
- Keyword formula – The best way to use keywords is in your headline, your lead and then your links.
Press releases can be pretty pricy, so make sure you are investing heavily in getting it right. If that means hiring a writer skilled in press releases…so be it. It will be worth it.
Get image links
One often overlooked strategy for link building is using your well-designed web site or your images.
For example, if you’ve redesigned your website and it’s got some stunning features, then you might want to share it with some CSS galleries.
Or you also might want to approach these galleries if you’ve run some design tests with some pretty interesting results.
You can actually have your site submitted to over 100 galleries for $20 with CSS Gallery List.
Naturally, if you get accepted into these galleries, you’ll get a link from a pretty good PageRank site.
You can also use high-quality images on your site and posts and then give people permission to embed them on their own sites or pin to Pinterest.
If you are really ambitious, why not create a gallery and then give people access to the images? Right there on the page, they can grab the code to embed images on their site.
To make this strategy work, you’ll want to follow some of these best practices:
- High-quality images – It’s essential that you provide images that look professional. You can’t expect anyone to take and use photos that look like stock or are blurry. The better the photos, the better your image link-building strategy will be.
- Make delivery easy – Grabbing an image shouldn’t be something users have to jump through hoops to do. It should be as simple as grabbing the embed code.
- Make this a regular feature – Just like with the frequency of blog posts, displaying new images should be on a predictable schedule. Of course, offer an RSS feed for this so people don’t have to check back every day.
- Compress images – Large images can suppress your page speed, and a huge library of images can slow down your entire site, so make sure you optimize your images for speed by compressing. You can use the WordPress plugin Smush.It.
Get social media links
When Twitter first came out, people started blogging a lot less, and that meant that there were few “round up posts” that you could count on to get links for your content.
Now you might get dozens of tweets and likes for a post, where in the past you might have gotten four or five links. Bloggers hated that because they weren’t getting the link juice.
Well, now Google is starting to catch up and look at social signals as a factor in the relevancy of content. Branded3 did a study where they found out that tweets actually do impact search rankings, and recently Catalyst discovered that Google’s Authorship Markup raised click-through rates.
So, with that in mind, let’s look at ten tactics with which you can increase social signals to your content.
- Use Triberr – This is a social media network that puts you in a “tribe” with like-minded bloggers. Your tribe could be five people or twenty people. It could have someone with 300 followers or 300,000. The cool thing is when you publish new content, they all automatically share it on their Twitter streams.
- Make social share buttons obvious – Make it easy for somebody to share you content. Use a scrolling share bar and put these buttons at the end of the post too.
- Create a worthwhile social brand – If you have a lame Twitter account, people may be less likely to share your content. Build your social media brand so people will want to share your content.
- Encourage sharing - Don’t be afraid to ask someone for a tweet or like. Shoot an influencer an email or DM and tell them you have content their audience might like. It doesn’t mean they’ll do it…but it never hurts to ask.
- Create world-class content – Nobody is going to share crappy work, so make sure you are spending time building great videos, blog posts, interviews, infographics and so on. People want to share great content. So give it to them.
Get content links
The last type of a link I want to mention is simply links from other sites. This could be just from another blogger who is linking to your content in his or her latest post.
Or it could be a link from a guest blog post you published on another site that links back to you. Or it could be the link you leave in your bio.
If you really want to boost your skills in the link game, check out these resources for link building:
- The Inside Scoop to Finding Link Building Opportunities with Free Alerts
- The 10 Golden Rules to Attracting Authority Links
- 7 Link Building Mistakes You Ought to Avoid
- 10 Hard-Hitting Link Building Tactics That’ll Boost Your Rankings
- How to Leverage Link Blending and Stage 2 Link Building to Maximize Your Rankings
Diversify your anchor text
A good link building plan will drive an assortment of links to your site. You should use a similar sort of mind set: creating a variety of different kinds of anchor texts.
Let me show you the five most common:
- Ensure you have brand links – Whether it is your blog or business or both, make sure you sprinkle in a good dose of these anchor text links into your content. For me, that could include Quick Sprout (my blog), KISSmetrics (my company) or Crazy Egg (my other company). And don’t forget your name.
- Exact-match keyword links – These are anchor texts that match the keywords you are trying to optimize for. For instance, one of the keyword phrases that I could optimize this article for is Panda link building plan. The other one could be Penguin link building plan.
- Partial-match keyword links – It’s important not to over-optimize with exact match keywords. Otherwise, you might look like you are trying to game the system…and Google may penalize you for that. So, use partial matches. For this blog post they could be Panda recovery plan or post-Penguin link strategy.
- Non-descriptive links – Finally, don’t forget to use anchor text that has zero keyword value. I’m talking about links like “Read More” or “Download this free book.” But if you are creating good content, you won’t have to worry about “non-descriptive links” as you will naturally get them.
- Page title links – A portion of your links should be the same as your page title. For this blog post it would be incoming links that would have the anchor text of “Finally: An Easy-to-Understand Link Building Plan to Help You Recover from Penguin and Panda”.
The key is simply to be natural when you are creating links. Do rigorous keyword research before you create content (at least during the content strategy stage), print out the list so you have it nearby…and then write. There is no way to get this perfect, so don’t worry about it.
Whether you actually got crushed by Penguin or Panda or not, it’s still important to know what happened with these two updates and how to respond, especially since a lot of these changes are meant to help content creators.
And it really all boils down to this: creating value for the web. If you can do that on a consistent basis, then you’ll rise in the rankings, get the exposure you deserve and succeed in your online business!
What other link-building tips can you share to help people recover from Panda and Penguin?