Building links never been easy and I suppose that’s always been the point, if everyone could build the links Google wanted quickly and easily then the algorithm would be pointless. People forget that ranking a site is effectively a competition and there can only be one guy at the top. But since Google is always evolving webmasters must too, so what links are they looking for after the Panda and Penguin updates?
Google is desperate to attach meaning to links and not just a numeric value (pagerank), in short they want to give every link “context”. This means working out whether the content on the page is related or not. A great way to get related links is guest-posting as even if the site isn’t a 100% related to your own the content surrounding your link will be. It also helps that you’re giving other webmasters something of value that will last and help their site too, this is a much better concept than the old link-trading one.
Another big change in the algorithm has been the “over-optimization penalty” that has hurt so many sites lately. It is believed that most of this penalty is focused around “anchor text” which is the text that’s actually linked back to the target site. Just a year ago webmasters were building links with 50% of their anchors set to their main target term. There is no way this would ever happen naturally so Google is coming down hard on anyone trying to game the system like this. To avoid future headaches no more than 20% of your anchor links should be for any one term.
The types of site you get links from has always been important but now link diversity is more essential than ever. Google can actively segment the many types of websites that are now on the net, so they know if all your links come from forums, blog comments or even dropped domains. This is the same as the anchor text penalty because genuine sites attract links from different places all over the web.
My last point is that you want to get links from sites that actually get real visitors. Apart from the fact that they may send you traffic it’s also a sign of a quality site (dropped domains with high pagerank do not have real visitors). I also believe that Google can now tell which sites have real traffic and which do not through a combination of the Google toolbar and their own analytics, so there’s no point trying to cheat this.
I hope this short article has helped if you have suffered any losses in the recent updates from Google. There is hope though if you’re prepared to follow some of the basic principles that SEO can be a long term option and not one you have to worry about every few months.