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How has the Panda Update Changed Link Building?

Tom Howlett

by Tom Howlett on 6th May 2011

Google’s notorious Panda algorithm update was an attempt to clean up the search engine results pages from low quality websites. Content farms and sites which contained an overloaded amount of poor quality information on various topics were hit hardest, this included various well known article publishing sites like Ezine Articles.

Websites with a higher percentage of high quality unique content generally survived the update and even saw an increase in rankings where others lost out.

Does this update affect any of our link building activities? How can we develop a link building strategy which takes account of this latest algorithm change?

Link Building Losers

It’s fairly common practice to write articles on other sites to get a link in return, and many people aren’t particularly concerned about maintaining standards.  As a result some article distribution sites were badly hit, Hubpages is another site which has seen many rankings fall in the SERP’s. The main sites hit have been forced to clean up their website to increase the quality of their sites; this has forced some sites to completely limit the number of submissions made to the site.

Highly generic directory sites have also lost out (as they generally don’t have enough unique content); this would result in the weakening of any link on the site but is unlikely to cause any loss in rankings.

The Winners

As there were many losers, there are bound to be many winners as well. It is hard to spot a correlation between the different winners; one obvious observation would be that a high number of recorded winners are high profile websites or brands. This could be because each site is quite specialised in its own industry and provides great content. Here are some of the known winners:

  • Ebay.co.uk
  • Econsultancy.com
  • Mashable.com
  • WordPress.com
  • Laterooms.com

There is a chance that these were picked out because they are very high profile; it doesn’t necessarily suggest that all the winners were larger companies/brands.

Current Link Building Techniques

After the algorithm update, link building methods haven’t changed that much. Where possible you should seek to build a good variety of links from a wide range of quality sources.

Article sites are still a good way of creating backlinks for your website, but the focus should be on writing longer, unique content to prove your knowledge in your niche. It is even better if you can find a niche article site within your industry for improved relevance.

The same goes for directories. There are still a decent number of directories that are worth submitting to, if you can source these links from a directory which is built around a niche subject; these would provide greater value in the long run.

The Importance of Content

It’s now more important than ever to create good quality unique content for your site. If you create quality content relevant to your sites subject/industry this will help you build relevance to certain keywords and improve your overall authority in that niche.

To improve the variety of backlinks to your website you can create external links which points to this content. An example would be to use the different social media channels to let people know you have a new blog post. Good content will always naturally acquire links (link bait) around the web.

What You Should Do Now

Following the recent changes, it is important to make an extra effort to create your own high quality content, try and be as creative as you can with the content produced. When sourcing links, you should try and find good quality sites within your niche. Think about where you could reach your target market and it is likely that there is a good quality link prospect to be uncovered.

Remember: Quality is better than quantity and a greater variety of links looks more natural to the search engines.

Tom Howlett

Tom Howlett

If you’re looking for information on Link Building then read Tom Howlett’s posts. Tom has a specialist insight into link building strategies designed to improve website’s visibility and ranking. He will help you become a master in finding new link sources.

4 Comments

  • Matt Rhys-Davies 7th May 2011

    Hi,

    Do you think any correlation could be found between a site’s adword spend and any loss in organic search visibility?

    Cheers,
    Matt

    Reply to this comment

    • Tom Howlett

      Tom Howlett 9th May 2011

      Hi Matt,

      In theory there should be no correlation between Adwords spend and organic search rankings, they are believed to be treated completely separately. On a slightly separate note, some sites which contain lots of Adsense advertising (made for Adsense websites) have seen losses if they do not provide any substantial unique value to the web.

      Reply to this comment

  • Dave Winters 27th June 2011

    What’s your take on the Google “Like” button appearing on the web. Do you think this is the future in terms of Google ranking sites higher that have a strong “Like” following?

    Reply to this comment

    • Tom Howlett

      Tom Howlett 27th June 2011

      Hi Dave,

      Google seem to have a greater interest in social factors as social media is growing year by year. I think it’s likely to help distinguish quality resources from resources which don’t offer much quality for their users.

      It could also potentially improve the click through rate if a website has more likes than another. The click through rate could also be a strong ranking factor for Google.

      It will likely end up being a small ranking factor alongside hundreds of other factors which make up the Google algorithm, not likely something which they will rely on hugely.

      We will have to see what happens.

      Reply to this comment

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