Red Flags Part 3: Off-site Factors That Attract a Google Penalty
Off-site work is essential to building authority online. For search engines like Google, links are pathways to discovering new web pages to crawl. When Google finds a new web page, the information on the page is scanned and stored in its indexes. By storing the information, Google is able to analyse the content on the page and determine whether it should rank for relevant keywords. That is why it is important to have a robust onsite structure that adheres to Google’s onsite quality guidelines, as discussed in our previous blog.
Besides the discovery of new webpages, Google also uses the links from other sites as a signal to help determine the relevance and ranking of a website in search results pages. Links coming from high quality, highly authoritative websites merit more value as compared to links coming from low quality websites. As such, if you want to improve your website rankings, you need an effective and sustainable link building strategy that helps you earn links from authoritative websites.
However, it is also incredibly important to build your off-site link structure according to the parameters set by Google.
In this final instalment of Red Flags, we take a look at the different backlinking factors that merit analysis to determine whether or not your website has been hit with Penguin 4.0, which is running in real-time within the core Google algo, or by some other algorithmic update.
- Link Volume – How many links do you have? Do you have enough quality links to rank for your target keywords, considering the competitiveness of your target market?
- Link Variety – Do you have a healthy mix of links directing to your website?
- Link Quality – Where are your backlinks directing from? Do they come from public forums, article directories, and social bookmarks? Important note: links which are harder to earn, such as those from trusted news and information websites, are more valuable as compared to links that are easy to earn.
- Link Relevancy – How relevant are the websites from which your backlinks are sourced? Can the websites be categorised within the same sphere, niche, industry, or market as yours?
- Anchor Text Density – How often are keywords integrated into your anchor texts? Do the anchor texts look natural, or are they stuffed with their target keywords? Important note: The ratio of keyword integration into anchor text varies per keyword, but the ideal level is at 20 per cent.
- Referring IP Variety – Are your links coming from different IPs or a single IP address? Important note: Google is suspicious of links that are sourced from the same IP address, as it considers this an inorganic linking pattern, and thus not worth any value.
- Foreign Links – Do you have links coming from foreign websites such as those from China or Russia? From what kinds of websites are those links coming from? Are they low quality/hacked sites?
What to do with bad backlinks
If you have backlinks you wish to disassociate with your website, Google offers the use of the Disavow Tool. With this, webmasters can submit a selection of links directly to Google, for the purpose of disassociating your website from said links and the sites from which they are sourced.
Cleaning up the link profile of your website prevents you from incurring penalties, but it can also affect your rankings. So it is important to review which links to disavow and which to keep.
If your website is hit by a penalty, the SEO experts at United SEO can help you get back on track. We have experienced account managers and an expert in-house tech team ready to assist you.