Wednesday, August 22, 2012

SEO Concerns Rise, Post-Penguin

Google’s recent Penguin update had the best of intentions – to penalize unsavorybacklinks. As a content marketer, I saw this as great news, since Penguin gives site owners a bigger incentive to steer clear of manipulative linkbuilding tacticsand instead concentrate on developing useful content.
There is a dark side, however.

Because Penguin took bad links
from a neutral ranking factor to
a negative ranking factor,
scammers now have a bigger
incentive to sabotage
competitors by messing up their
link profiles. And while this type
of treachery, referred to as
negative SEO, has been around
forever, few deny that today,
the potential for negative SEO is
greater than it’s been for some
There are numerous ways
scammers can pollute a
competitor’s link profile, one of
the easiest and most common
being the use of automated
systems to generate thousands
of over-optimized (i.e., spammy)
links to the competitor from low
quality sites. In theory, such a
barrage of links could now, post-
Penguin, cause a site’s rankings
to drop like a rock.
Whether the impact of negative
SEO is real or theoretical is a
question being hotly debated.
After Penguin’s release, many
sites suffered a drop in rankings,
and pointed to negative SEO as
the culprit. But while there is no
doubt that negative SEO
activities are rampant, it isless
clear how they are actually
affecting rankings. This
comment from Danny Sullivan
on a recent Aaron Wall negative
SEO post is rather interesting:
… What I do know is that when I
look at sites that complain of
drops, I see bad links — and
then they have explained ah
yes, they got those links
themselves in some way. That’s
what I’ve seen.
As for not accepting there’s no
negative SEO, I’ve repeatedly
said that it is possible. In the
reply above this, I even
acknowledged that perhaps it
more viable now because it’s
cheaper now. That’s exactly the
opposite or refusing to accept
that links could be cheaply
andtrivially pointed at any site.
What remains unclear is how
serious a threat it is to the vast
majority of sites out there. What
I’m fairly sure is that most
people who suffered recently
fromthe link networks being
taken out, or from Penguin,
where [sic] not victims of
negative SEO.
So while the cause-and-effect
relationship between negative
SEO practices and lower
rankings is difficult to establish,
site owners are well advised in
today’s environment to monitor
their link profiles carefully . A
sudden spike in backlinks could
mean your site has been
targeted.What else can site owners do to
protect against negative SEO?
*. On the theory that a good
offense is the best defense,
make sure your link profile is as
strong as possible , by removing
links from questionable sites,
varying anchor text, and build
new backlinks the right way by
placinguseful content on a wide
range of high quality sites.
*. On the theory of divide-and-
conquer, diversify your Internet
marketing . If a firm’s entire
strategy is SEO, competitors will
find out and make it an even
riper target for negative SEO.
Organic traffic is a great source
of leads, but far from the only
one. Socialmedia, paid search
and email marketing are
promising avenues for
*. On the theory that knowledge
is power, stay informed . I don’t
think I’mexaggerating in saying
that SEO best practices are
changing on a monthly basis.
One advantage scammers have
is they know how to work
Google’s system. Therefore you
need to know the system just as
well, especially if you feel

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