In the past, the general assumption was that the more backlinks you could buy, create, or generate to your website, the better. By using keywords as the anchor text for those backlinks, the website they linked to could rank higher for those keywords. Many Internet Marketers built the bulk of their marketing efforts on vast numbers of backlinks driving traffic to their website. After the Google Penguin update, that strategy not only ceased to be effective, it actively penalized the people who used it.
The idea behind the Penguin analysis of backlinks is that they fall into three general categories based on the type of anchor text. The first type of backlink is considered a brand link. These backlinks use the name of the company, the name of a product, or the URL of the company’s website as the anchor text of the link. The second type of backlink is considered a target link. These backlinks use targeted keywords as the anchor text of the link. The third type of backlink is considered a generic link. These links use generic words and phrases as the anchor text, such as “click here”, “here”, “this”, or “cool website”.
The Google Penguin algorithm looks at all of the backlinks to your website, and considers the ratio of types of anchor text used in all of them. Google decided that if a high percentage of backlinks were targeted backlinks, they were probably the result of marketing efforts by site owner, either organically as a result of press releases and articles, or through purchase of backlinks. On the other hand, if a high percentage of backlinks were brand or generic backlinks, then they were probably the result of other people finding the information on that site useful and linking to it.
With the Google Penguin update, those websites that were deemed to have too high a percentage of targeted backlinks were de-indexed, and removed from Google’s search results. This was a huge impact on online businesses, but it also impacted offline businesses with an online presence. To determine how close your website is to the danger point, for each page on your website obtain a list of backlinks using your favourite backlink tool, and sort the anchor text of those links into brand, target, and generic categories.
To keep your website from running afoul of the Penguin algorithm in the future, it is generally safe to have less than 1/3 of all links be targeted links, with about 40% of links generic links. The remainder should be brand links. For example, if you are sending out a press release with 5 links, make only 1 of the links a targeted link, 1 of the links can list your company name, 1 of the links can list your company URL, and 2 of the links should be generic. If you had only 3 links in your press release, you’d make 1 a targeted link, 1 a brand link, and 1 a generic link.
The Internet Marketing Academy