Google Becoming Less and Less Tolerant of Spammy Backlinks

A report last week found that Google’s infamous Penguin algorithm is becoming stricter over time. For a long time we’ve known how updates to Penguin can cause a site’s rankings to plummet if the backlink profile has clearly been gamed and initially it would penalise sites where 80% of the inbound links were less than natural. However over time this 80% threshold has dropped and the algorithm is now even less forgiving, with sites seeing problems with a backlink profile that’s 50% “manipulative” (unnatural).

Of course not every site is hit with a specific Google penalty, rather the algorithm automatically filters out the results it now deems are too engineered for optimisation, and this is the key part. Because the Penguin update is now an ongoing element in the everyday ranking algorithm, websites can be affected gradually without being specifically flagged up to be hit with a penalty and this means that now, more than ever, it is incredibly important that your backlink profile is made up of quality links rather than a quantity of deliberately over-optimised keyword rich links. Google is getting better and better at recognising the links that don’t look natural and as soon as it gets a sniff of this, your site is going to be sat in the in tray marked “suspicious”.

But how do you get the balance right? If we don’t optimise our sites and seek out valuable links, they don’t reach the positions in the search results that bring in traffic. Whereas if we hunt down every linking opportunity we can, using keyword rich anchor text, the Big G is going to notice and react accordingly, potentially damaging existing rankings. It’s an incredibly difficult balancing act to get right so make sure you’re not falling foul of Google’s guidelines by always keeping on top of your linking activity. Just one over optimised link too many could mean the difference between a page one ranking and a position of total insignificance in the search results. You might think you’re just a few clever links away from that elusive top 3 ranking but if you’re not careful you can undo all your hard work to date. Is it worth the risk?