Last week a colleague of mine proposed, only half jokingly, that we offer to help small businesses recover from the effects of the latest Google changes by removing all the bad links pointing back to their websites. He was talking about “Penguin,” a recent upgrade to the all-powerful Google search engine algorithm. In a nutshell, Penguin knocked down the rankings of sites that had spammy link profiles — that is, Google penalized websites that, among other things, tried to “game the system.” One of the biggest factors contributing to your website’s ranking are the number of “backlinks” or “incoming links” — links that points back to a page on your site from somebody else’s site. Search engines assume that the more links that point to your website, the more useful your website must be. Makes sense, right? But in the race to secure those precious top rankings, many folks tried to beg, borrow or pay for as many links as possible, regardless of where they came from. Unfortunately, a lot of SEOs used these same tactics on behalf of their clients, and now find that all those worthless links need to be removed. What a mess! Remember: Google has to ensure that the results returned by a search are going to be relevant and credible, so they are constantly seeking ways to reduce the “web spam.” It’s not that Google wants to ban SEO — only lousy SEO. Here’s what Matt Cutts of Google had to say about it late last year:
So what’s the takeaway? Try to draw on the lesson of the tortoise and the hare. It takes time to secure high quality back-links — there’s no good shortcut. Seek out relevant, credible and legitimate sites as potential links partners. Maybe offer to guest post for a popular blogger who writes on a topic related to your business. As always, content is king, so if you are regularly adding quality articles, photos, videos, etc., to your own site and engaging via social networks, you are sure to pick up a few links here and there. Over time these accumulate naturally, and you’ll see the rankings your website deserves!