Does Google Penguin Mean the Death of Link Building?

August 22, 2012 Michael O'Laughlin

In April 2012, Google updated it’s algorithm in an effort to minimize ‘black hat webspam’ and promote high quality content on the web. This change, better known now as Google Penguin, searches for keyword stuffing and link schemes, a form of link building that is used in an attempt to work around Google’s algorithm.

Websites utilizing an SEO strategy that includes low quality links, link networks and/or link farms have felt the biggest impact from Google Penguin. Google analyzes links from sites and determines which ones are of higher and lower quality based on a number of different attributes. These attributes can include relevancy, quality and how the links were built.

  • Relevancy = how the content in the page linking from and the content in the page being linked to are related.
  • Quality = the quality of the site being linked from. So, a link from the home page of, say, CNN would be considered of higher quality than a link from a small town newspaper site.
  • Google can also analyze how quickly the links have been generated throughout the web. If you are paying someone to create links, Google is trying to detect this practice with the updates included in Penguin.

It’s important to note that link building is still an effective SEO practice and should be considered in your SEO strategy. Some of the best ways to build links from outside your website is to have a social media strategy for Google +, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Also, think about being a guest writer for popular blogs in your industry.

The most important item you can concentrate on is your website content. Top ranking sites usually have content strategies in place ensuring their content is updated on a regular basis, keeping the site fresh and encouraging visitors to come back and engage with new content. Producing compelling content on a regular basis will position your website as a high quality site that others will want to link to.

Google has always responded to quality over quantity. Instead of wasting time and energy trying to figure out how to work around Google algorithm updates, make sure your SEO strategy focuses on producing quality content. If you practice solid SEO strategy, Google’s continued updates will only improve your websites ranking.


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Michael O'Laughlin Director, QA & Managed Applications

As Director, QA & Managed Applications, Michael is responsible for delivering One North digital experiences to clients and creating both web applications and custom data integration solutions. Michael’s favorite Chicago spot is the United Center, watching the Hawks in the playoffs.

  • Favorite movie quote: “Great moments...are born from great opportunity. And that's what you have here tonight, boys. That's what you've earned here tonight. One game. If we played 'em ten times, they might win nine. But not this game; not tonight.” - Miracle
  • What you wanted to be when you were little: A firefighter

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