Last year it was panda and now its penguin. Forums, blogs, emails and articles all over the web are claiming to know everything about the latest update, how to get out of a penalty or the perfect and ultimate solution to the latest Google algorithm changes. Personally, I feel it is way too early to even know what is going on and what the exact solutions are to avoid a penalty. The fact is no one truly knows yet because the dust hasn’t settled and everyone is still trying to test new tweaks and strategies.

All I can do is tell you what we have been doing and some of the tweaks we implemented to adjust for the new update.

Proper Onsite

This is probably the easiest and most necessary change you should make: De-optimizing your site. Perform a full onsite by checking for dead links, correct any 301’s and 404’s and correct any coding errors if necessary (check with http://validator.w3.org for W3C validation). Make sure your onsites are not over-optimized with an excessive amount of keywords in the title tag and internal links on pages of your site, repetitive keywords in the title tag and urls, etc. Having too many keywords dilutes the power of all other keyword. So spread them out internally and have dedicated pages with proper content to best create relevance and rankings. Have original and non-duplicate content throughout your site for the spiders to index with at least 300-500 words per page and a low-keyword density.

Au Naturale

You are going to have to change up your anchor text to make it appear more natural and give you a varied keyword profile. It is better to have less exact match and more long tail and branded keyword as anchor texts. Basically avoid “over optimizing” and use a wide range of anchor texts.

1) Add fillers such as “click here” “visit”, etc. and other adjectives. Yes it is generic but it will appear more natural.
2) Adding Naked URLs or sometimes referred to as raw urls. www.yourcompany123.com, yourcompany.com, http://yourcompany.com, etc.
3) Mix in your company name, brand name, product name and even your state into your keywords
4) Use Google’s Keyword Tool in Adwords to find broad matching terms to the keywords you are trying to rank for and use those as anchor texts as well.

Ugghhh…..Quality over quantity.

As much as I hate this phrase since it’s commonly overused by every SEO in the industry, I have to say it here because its super important, especially after this update and for the future of SEO. Getting quality content is difficult, and what is even more difficult is finding a quality site to put it on. It isn’t as easy as everyone makes it to be but it can be done with some time, dedication and patience. So what to do and how to actually do this?

There are thousands of blogs out there who are in dire need of quality and original content. Find them in your niche and write an article. It’s that simple. Don’t keyword stuff or use that article and spin it 20 times with an automated spinner. Create JUST one and use it ONCE, NO keyword stuffing (use the keyword no more than two times and use the above methods to vary the anchor text) and after it is live, spend some time and promote it socially through Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, 2.0 sites and social bookmarks.

1) If you don’t have a subscription to Myblogguest.com Get it now. This is the most underrated service available for content distribution. It will be the best money you spend and you will have a connection to hundreds of bloggers dying for content. Provide them with quality and original content and they will not hesitate to receive another article from you in the future. Build a trusting relationship and do it right the first time and they are all yours. I will take a list of bloggers over a list of backlinks any day.

2) This is essential and necessary to find blogs looking for content with some of these Google Search commands.

Keyword + “write for us”
Keyword + “write for me”
Keyword + “become a contributor”
Keyword + “contribute to this site”
Keyword + “guest blog”
Keyword + “guest blogger”
Keyword + “guest Column”
Keyword + “guest article”
Keyword + inurl:category/guest
3) Use Followerwonk to find bloggers in your niche. This is another great site to use to find bloggers. Not only are you finding bloggers who may be looking for content to publish on their site but they have FOLLOWERS. Publishing an article on a site is great and all but it’s so much powerful if they are going to tweet it to thousands of people and more than likely if they have a Twitter account, they are going to have a Facebook, YouTube, Google + and Pinterest account.

Ask and you shall receive

Question/Answer sites. There are so many out there and a lot of questions are unanswered. This one is so simple. Find an answer site, find a question relating to the keyword or to the company and answer it. You may need to do the research on the question but that time spent is well worth it because most of them allow a naked URL or a keyword in it as a source. You don’t have to use your website as the source, you can also link it an article you created as a source if it is RELEVANT…and RELEVANT is the huge factor in this type of link building because if you are not relevant to the question, you will be removed. So take the time and answer it correctly and link it to a relevant source. Even linking it to an article you created for your website will work. Take this one step further and add Google Alerts to keywords and phrases for some questions so as soon as you get an alert for “How do I maintain my widget”, you can be the first one on the scene to answer the question.
Link Diversity and Good ole’ Link Building

In most, if not all, niches creating pure quality content is not going to get you ranked. Period. I still firmly believe that you will still need to some good ole’ link building to have a diversified backlink profile. And whatever you do, don’t stop link building. Nothing looks worse than if you have been constantly doing SEO for the past year or so and then you just stop “cold turkey” in the months of March and April whether you have been hit or not by the infamous letter in Webmaster Tools or dropped off the grid. And worst of all do not attempt to remove bad links from Google – nothing is more suspicious than you trying to de-index backlinks. Here are some tools & strategies you can use for some good ole’ link building.

1) Ontolo – This one is first because I had a major bone to pick with this site a year ago and I refused to use it until now. My fellow co-worker Oliver Feakins raved about how awesome it was and how everyone in the industry was using it. I personally thought it was horrible. The interface was horrendous, impossible to navigate and after an hour trying to figure out what it even did for the first time I gave up on it. But now…..holy shit did they make it so much better. It wasn’t until a couple months ago that I even knew what it did. It uses Google Search Commands (see link for some Google Advanced Operators http://www.googleguide.com/advanced_operators.html which is another strategy you can use to get links) to find relevant categories you are looking for. It works great now and I have been using it for the past several months and am able to pull some quality links from the service. They have a free version that does what I need it for.

2) SEOmoz and Majestic SEO are two essential sites you should subscribe to. They both have a great number of SEO tools that will provide you the ability to find quality links but the #1 tool I commonly use on both is the backlink explorer tool. Cherry pick and stealing your competitor’s links. You will be able to pull up backlinks that have been indexed and if they were able to get a link from a site, so can you.

3) If you haven’t been doing it before, now is the time to have diversification in your backlinks. Mix it up with local SEO, forum posts, press releases, Wikis, articles, guest posts, bookmarks, Twitter, Facebook business profiles, infographics, images, PDFs and yes even the dreaded evil directory listings.

4) Deep Linking. So you have already spent hours doing the keyword research for your website. Then you spent even more hours doing the sitemap and onsite of the website carefully choosing what keyword should go to what page. So why are you linking all of your anchor text to the homepage?? This is common sense but this is so important that it needs to be addressed. Link the keyword to the specified page of the website that you outlined in your onsite or the most relevant page on the site to increase relevance and build authority for inner pages. Google wants relevancy and users want what they are searching for. As Google’s algorithm is evolving almost everyday I believe that bounce rate and time on site are going to be playing a bigger role in the future. A high bounce rate and low time on site may be an indicator to Google’s algorithm that your site is not relevant to a given keyword – you could be penalized or dropped.