Ok, maybe controversial, maybe harsh, but few would argue that those hit hardest from Google’s Penguin algorithm updates are sites which have been involved in substandard link building techniques. For those unaware, link building is the process of obtaining links to your website from other sites.
Link building techniques take many forms, at the top end of the scale we have the holy grail, the earned link, undoubtedly the most difficult to obtain, as the earned link is an endorsement, someone who wants to be associated with your brand and loves your content enough to add a link from their blog, website, tweet etc.
At the other end of the scale we have the paper cup of link building, the comment spam or web directories, links so simple to come by they are merely added into blog comments or submitted to online directories.
Ask yourself, which site would you rather visit, one with genuine endorsements or one that has undertaken a spammy link campaign in an attempt to manipulate Google?
With the Penguin update, Google has made a stance by issuing ranking penalties to sites which they have identified to be link building, rather than link earning, in extreme cases they have completely removed some sites from their search results.
Google are likely to be relentless on their pursuit of cleaning up the web and these updates are likely to keep rolling out at a fair pace.
Clean up your act
If your website is unfortunate enough to have a lot of poor links, do what you can to remove them but don’t get caught up wasting too much time on this.
Instead, start writing good engaging content that will earn genuine links, talk about your new content through social channels, in the words of Google…
Stop building links and start earning them
*A small footnote, not all directories are bad, Yelp, Yell, Yahoo, dmoz are some of the exceptions to the rule.