Who’s honestly not afraid of the Penguin? In 2012, Google decided to release one of the most terrifying algorithm updates that makes us watch our backs every single time we post or update content on our website. The Penguin, Google’s radical algorithm change targeted websites that featured overly optimized anchor texts stuffed with keywords, dubious link profiles and shady link building strategies. All in all, the not so cute Penguin made us change our perception of endorsement.
Penguin – The Algorithm Update That Makes Us Look at Endorsement from a Different Perspective
In online environments, we are actually permitted and sometimes even encouraged to pay a popular celeb to promote our products on his/her social media channels, but we aren’t allowed to beg, pray or pay for links coming from other sources. Now does this make any sense? It does, actually. Google has always been striving to ensure a flawless web experience for all Internet users.
According to Search Engine Watch, this is the main reason why it does everything in its power to sniff, signal and ban any kind of black hat strategy rolled out by webmasters whose sole purpose is to manipulate search engine results to their best advantage.
To begin with, Google scared the SEO out of us with its Penguin algorithm update designed and implemented to penalize websites that promoted low-quality content. These websites did not do any favors to readers looking for quality information; they just represented a cheap and convenient moneymaking machine for most business owners who did not plan to optimize their content strategies anytime soon. Fortunately, the mighty Penguin made them reconsider. Shortly after Penguin buried many webmasters 6 feet under the ground, Google decided to focus its entire attention of manipulative, unnatural inbound links. According to Moz, the types of inbound links that can ruin your friendship with Google can be separated into different categories:
- Paid links
- Links with overly optimized anchor texts
- Links coming from low-quality webpages
- Links coming from sources that are not relevant to your business
- Keyword stuffed links
3 Reasons Why Paid Links Are the Forbidden Fruit That Should Be Left in the Tree
If you don’t want to upset Google, it is highly recommended to invest time, money and energy in your content strategy, rather than trying to come up with a counterproductive tactic based on paid links. You may be wondering: why are paid links bad in the first place? Google doesn’t like them much for a number of reasons:
1) Paid Links Are a Form of Cheating. Basically, when you buy links, you pay to help your own page rank higher in search engine results. In other words, you defy Google’s rules and guidelines and put a certain amount of money on the table to see your website on page 1 in Google. Ultimately, you get bonus points from search engines that will consider you a relevant, popular, trustworthy source even if this is not the case.
2) Your Practice Stops Search Engines from Delivering Relevant Results. If all people were to pay to see their website occupy a privileged position in search engine results, how could Google, Bing and Yahoo manage to display relevant, quality results that users are actually interested in finding?
3) Bad Linking Strategies Don’t Help Your Readers. On the contrary, paid links that have no value whatsoever annoy and bore your readers to death, so this is one extra reason why you should avoid them.
5 Ways to Boost Your Website Traffic without Relying on Paid Links
Instead of investing your resources in deceptive optimization tactics, try to stay in Google’s good graces and increase your website traffic rapidly and risk-free. Here are 5 simple ways to attain your goal without jeopardizing your relationship with Google:
1) Maximize the Satisfaction of Your Readers. Moz points out that Google may measure satisfaction every single time users click on a certain page. So the question is this: does your website have what it takes to keep your readers on your side for the longest period of time? If the answer is no, find out what you have been doing wrong this whole time and discover the simplest method to correct your mishap. Update you content, add calls to action, change you tone/writing style, cultivate the feedback of your readers and make sure the topics that you expand one actually address their needs, demands and concerns.
- Also, don’t neglect social media marketing opportunities. Improve your social media presence the easy way. Create and publish premium web content enabling you to interact with your fans and followers on some of the most important social media platforms.
2) Proper Video Optimization. A picture is worth a thousand words, but since the online environments have become increasingly competitive, you’ll need more than a great pic to convince users to click on your website. In this case, a video snippet could serve your best interest by stimulating the curiosity of your readers and proving that you are a first-class source of information that is counting on killer multimedia content to stay relevant.
3) Google Authorship (Plus an Awesome Photo of Yourself). Many webmasters are dealing with the same problem: they don’t know that online businesses have to establish real relationships with members of their targeted audience. Since not all the info available online is 100% accurate, users must find a way to separate quality content from written trash. To simplify their process, they take a closer look at the original source. Who is the mighty content creator? You are! In this case, highlight your authority and build credibility and trust by counting on Google Authorship. This way, a short, relevant description and a great photo of yourself will be listed at the beginning of you articles. While you’re going down this road, make sure you rely on a few basic elements guaranteeing your success:
- Opt for a picture revealing a real face, not a cartoon character
- Go for high-contrast hues that will make your pic noticeable
- Post a photo that is audience-targeted: a photo of someone looking like a respectable financial advisor is certainly not the best pick if you want to convince teenage girls to click on your website and buy fashion jewelry.
4) Update Your Content. This is a good strategy that will also help you increase your website traffic. Create new, stellar content and update the old one regularly to attain your optimization goals. Google interprets freshness in different ways, based on several criteria, including your changes to important and unimportant web content, how many new pages you create over a certain period of time and how often you update your content.
5) Industry-Specific Websites. OK, so you have finally reached the conclusion that you shouldn’t buy links. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to get listed on industry-specific sites. Approach the webmasters and ask them to support your optimization efforts. They will most likely include you, especially if you are a relevant player in your industry and your content is fresh, engaging and rich in information.
These 5 simple methods can help you increase website traffic without relying on paid links. After all, why pay for something that will eventually go against you when you can redirect your resources towards a world class content strategy that will boost your profits, online visibility and your competitive edge without upsetting Google?