With the Google Penguin update wreaking havoc on webmasters, and links being one of the biggest problem areas for most, here is what SEOs are looking at when they are evaluating your links in light of the Penguin update. Please note, there is a little guesswork in how much each type of linking offense will incur a penalty – Google simply will not divulge that information. What SEOs can dow however is a more comprehensive link analysis than used to be required to try to pinpoint the source of any Penguin related link penalties you may be dealing with.
– Link stuffing, or the practice of pushing out tons of very low value even irrelevant, links which all point back to one specific page. Sites that have an abnormally high ratio of links all pointing to one page will almost assuredly get tagged for spamming links.
– Link Farming, technically called topological spamming, is the practice of getting piles of links to your site from websites that Google has already pegged as a “bad site.” Typically these are sites that do nothing but host links, but they could be content mills hosting hundreds of thousands of pieces of low quality content that have links stuffed in piece.
– Nepotistic linking which means that all of your links are paid links or the product of reciprocal link exchanges without anything organic will be penalized.
– TrustRank matters – Google will look at where your links come from. Are they from quality sites – and are you also linking to quality sites? Being in a good neighborhood matters.
– Link lifecycle is where most sites fail. Links generally have a lifespan. Some will be hardy, but other will decay. Google will look at your historical data concerning link acquisition to make sure it is within norms and not a cycle of a thousand links suddenly appearing every 30 days. If it doesn’t look organic, it won’t pass muster.
By knowing a little bit about what Google is looking at, you can stay in good graces. Be reasonable about link building using methods like the link wheel which have survived Penguin. Be careful of link exchanges and keep good neighbors. If you avoid the above taboo practices you will do just fine.