Alot have been said and done about the this latest update, so I'll just share what my own data (from ranking hundreds of niche sites that depend mostly on search traffic) tells me about surviving the Penguin and some of the things I'll be doing differently from this point onward.
First, after any algorithm update, check your search-related traffic from Google after the official announcement (April 24th in this case). If they have dropped, the Penguin just hit you. If they increased, your sites are deemed more relevant after the update, so you must be doing something right before. If they haven't appeared to change, track the results a little longer. If they continue to be unchanged, then you are not affected by Penguin update (yet).
My own sites are very 'evenly' affected. Some of them fell from the first page to the second and third page (about 25%). Very little (lesser than the first group, about 10%) actually increased in rankings. Majority of the sites remained unchanged. Overall, I would say not much damage was done in terms of overall search traffic.
Here're my thoughts. The previous Panda update was more geared towards content. Thin content sites were hit badly, followed by content farms that does not add value to Google's users.
Either way, my sites were not really affected because I've always built my sites with thick, useful and relevant content. (The same cannot be said about the article links I usually use to rank the sites though.)
This time, the update appears to be related to optimization of sites, and anchor text backlinks.
Here's how (I think) you should go about backlinking from now:
1) Include far more variety in your anchor texts - works like a dream
The sites that were hit appears to be too 'clean' in terms of the anchor texts. Therefore, you should be backlinking to your usual set of keywords you want to rank for, together with LSI keywords, and also some buffer keywords (such as "click here now", "go to the website", "find out more", "this is the link" etc). The point is to avoid aggressive / limited exact-match anchor text backlinking.
Besides rotating more keywords and adding buffer keywords, you should also anchor your domain.
People really did get hit when they were backlinking their keywords with just the keyword term instead of adding some natural links as well like the www.domain.com etc. |
The funny thing is that when someone naturally links to you most likely they will use the www.domain.com and never a keyword.
Credits: OmarNegron (post 9)
2) Understand that EMD may not necessary rank easier these days
Quite a few sites that were dropped were EMD and strangely built around the same style/way of writing content etc. It is highly probable that they're not giving EMD (exact match domains) the kind of ranking advantage they used to have, and also likely that they're a tad more weary about ranking EMDs (probably a slight disadvantage?).
3) Do not try to rank sites using only the well known, popular, paid blog networks - risky
Out of the sites that were dropped, quite a few of them were ranked using mostly popular paid blog networks (ALN and BMR that were recently de-indexed).
Fact: I rank all my sites using article marketing, and other sites have not shown any signs of falling in rankings. Article marketing continues to be a solid way of ranking sites, but no longer by using overused wordpress blogs that are spammed to death with links on every single post like what some blog networks does.
Strangely, I use alot of blog networks myself and contrary to what alot of people think, these blog networks do wonders in terms of ranking sites. But right now, most need a better way to hide their tracks, be less conspicuous and less 'loud' about how effective their links are to prevent a manual takedown of an entire network.
Until then, your best bet might be to build a list of sites (article directories, small private owned blog network) to submit articles to.
4) Do not over-optimize your website / content - it doesn't work
Optimizing your website content (based on high scores in SEOPressor) is 2010/2011. These days, overly optimized content (unnecessary bolding, italicizing and underlining of keywords, forcing them to appear in the first and last sentence of a page) doesn't quite have 'boost' it used to give when it comes to ranking sites/pages. I suspect unnaturally optimized content is even harder to rank than non-optimized but useful,relevant content these days.
Optimization in 2012 and beyond is not as much on focusing on stressing on the keywords, but more so on relevancy, use social media (bookmarks, Google +), adding life (photo) to the "Author Info" in blogs (one of Jon Leger's popular strategies), among others.
Of course, these are not conclusive and are just my thoughts on the update based on what I've found. Thoughts?