Gather round, children; it’s time for a story!
Once upon a time, in a time before now, search engine optimization consisted of two things – keywords and backlinks. Sure, there may have been other things you needed to do, like write decent content and have good web design, but if you had enough keywords in your copy and websites linking to your site, you were at the top of the heap.
It was pretty wild – keywords flying everywhere! Whole passages of text made absolutely no sense because of the number of keywords jammed in there!
And the links…ah, the links. Several companies would capitalize on the link building strategy, promising hundreds of links for a few bucks each month. With these strategies in place, you would see your website rocket straight to the top!
But something happened. Google took a hard look at the websites at the top, shook its massive Googly head, and changed the algorithm.
The Penguin: Cute, Cuddly, and Dangerous
In April 2012, Google released the “webspam algorithm update,” better known to all of the SEO specialists as the Penguin algorithm (and yes, it was named after the Batman villain). Penguin’s job was to target and devalue the sites that used link building practices, which were somewhat shady. It would evaluate the link, and if it came from a suspicious or low-quality website, it would penalize your website.
Google Penguin’s justice was swift to these black hat methods. According to Google, once the algorithm update was launched, it affected more than 3 percent of search results. Maybe not as devastating as Panda, which cracked down on thin content and affected 12 percent of all queries, yet Penguin did enough damage for the regular users to notice.
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Time Marches On: Backlink Strategies Today
Fast forward to 2019, and the Land of Google has had much change over the past seven years. The algorithm now wants fresh, lengthy, and useful content that answers a user’s specific questions. Video and podcasts can now be found in search results all over the web. Ads are taking up more and more space as organic listings get less face time. And link building strategies…well, they’re not what they used to be.
Yes, backlinks are still relevant in this day and age, especially in the form of online directories and local citations. However, there are SEO companies out there who will get your link on any platform, no matter how spammy or low quality they may be, for a price. And if you’re paying for links, I suggest running a backlink audit to make sure those links aren’t hurting your website. Because Penguin is not only still around, but it’s more powerful than ever before.
Here at ENX2, I’m the first to admit that I’m not a fan of buying or begging for backlinks. I’m a proponent of links coming from high-quality websites that arrived organically. And with voice search becoming more and more popular (yeah, I know I’m still on that kick, shush!), I have a feeling that link building will need to evolve to be relevant in the future.
That being said, if you are looking for a link building strategy, I do have a good one for you, and it can help with voice search in the future – online directories.
Have You Had Your Citations Checked Lately?
Yes, there is more than Google My Business out there. Online directories are EVERYWHERE. If you can’t find an address on Google, Yellow Pages, Facebook, Yelp, Bing, Mapquest, Amazon Alexa, Apple, Citysearch, Foursquare, Hotfrog, etc., then you don’t exist. I’m sorry, you just don’t!
These online directories are rather crucial to your SEO. You see, Google scours the internet to make sure your listing is the same everywhere. And if your citations are all displaying a different mailing address, or phone number, or website, then your website authority could go down.
So, run a local citation audit and make sure those listings are correct, people!
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