For the last year or so, the Internet has been a-twitter (no pun intended) about Google’s Panda update and how it smacked down content mills and other low-quality sites. Well, you could be forgiven if you missed their latest named update — Penguin — because if you had a quality site and decent SEO in the first place, you wouldn’t have noticed it.
Penguin’s primary change to the Google algorithm was to penalize websites that were engaging in bad linking practices. Sites with unnatural link profiles, a pile of low-quality (spam) links and few decent ones, and sites that were obviously keyword stuffing got their rankings stripped from them, which opened up plenty of room for more legitimate (and user-friendly) sites to rise like cream to obtain themselves first page placements.
If you talk to your SEO company and they don’t have a clean, crisp response about Penguin, you might want to consider a new SEO company. They should say something to this effect:
All of our content is reviewed by English-native humans. This is what Penguin seems to be doing — their algorithm seems to be picking out potential spammy sites and sending them somewhere for human review. Sites that pass are left alone — so make sure everything they’re posting on your behalf anywhere online makes perfect sense to a native English speaker.
We are creating links, not buying them. Links purchased from 3rd-party sources are the root of the entire problem, because they tend to be lower-quality than links created by a team of genuine SEO experts. If they have to outsource some links to another SEO company because they overbooked themselves, that’s OK — just no bulk links from Nigerian princes.
Natural link profiles are the goal. Over-optimized anchor text is just the newest in a long list of ‘unnatural link profile qualities’ that Penguin has started sniffing out. Links should come to your site at all times of day and night, from all over the world, with a wide spread of anchor texts (the majority of which are your business name or URL.)
If your website’s SEO company isn’t making your site Penguin-sensitive, you may get left out in the cold.