Link Building in a Post Penguin World #seslon #seslondon

Link Building in a Post Penguin World #seslon #seslondon

19th February 2013

We’re at SES London 2012 – so here is the first in our series of posts this week.

Link Building in a Post Penguin World


Bill Hunt, SES Advisory Board; President, Back Azimuth Consulting

Kevin Gibbons, UK Managing Director, BlueGlass Interactive
Paul Madden, Owner, Automica Limited

Session #1 – Kevin Gibbons –, @kevgibbo

Links have existed long before Google, we just didn’t think in those ways. Links prior to the art of Linkbuilding as we know it existed were earned not necessarily placed via news, web portals, open directories and general web content.

Along came Page Rank > Money  – and we have eventually ended up with a post panda apolcalypse  launching a host of theories, ‘much needed’ cleanup, and the start of a different way of thinking when it comes to link building.

What have we learned

  • Google is Closing the Gaps
  • Penguin is the cousin of Panda )Penguin penalises content that links to you – Panda penalises weak content you publish)

Phase 1: Demote sites with more content ranking than their reputation has earned

Phase 2: Anchor Text Over-Optimisation Penalities

2013 ranking factors

  • WHO links to you could be more important than WHERE it’s from
  • Don’t give up on links just yet
  • Clean up before you get hit

If you’ve been hit

1)      Re-think your metrics of site quality

2)      Analyse if/when you’ve been hit

3)      Download all of your links

4)      Analyse your anchor text distribution %

5)      Analyse link volume vs. referring traffic

6)      Analyse topical relevancy of links

7)      Compare it against your competitors!

8)      Find out what a #1 site profile – looks like in your industry & replicate it

9)      Consider removing/disavowing links which don’t match your target profile

10)   Create a scalable content strategy to focus on quality production & outreach

11)   Focus on audience & topical relevancy to build a natural & defensible profile


  • Remove Links with no value
  • Replicate models of top sites
  • Create a scalable content marketing strategy

Kev’s slides are available on Slideshare:

Session #2 – Paul Madden,, Manual Link Building @PaulDavidMadden


2012 was bad year for blatent SEO w301sith unnatural link warnings, disavow tools,  and as Paul put it ‘penalties all over the place’.

What counted?


  • Some counted some did not
  • Throw as many links as you dared
  • If you threw enough of the right stuff you won

What happened? Google formulated a more formal set of link penalties

Link Penalties

  • Google have sent a number of unnatural link warnings
  • There is now a much more formal procedure to get the penalty removed
  • Google are still sending them

Data Gathering

Automica and MLB started gathering data to try to understand what the link risk was of every link that had been placed or was going to be placed. Data included:

  • 5 million domain profiles
  • Audits on all types of sites
  • Far higher % of on anchor
  • Higher % of sitewides
  • Higher % of suspect cctld
  • More links that 40x or 50x
  • Risk is obvious in anchor text distribution
  • Links are still the signal
  • Google have hidden what they consider a bad link well
  • To rank you have to build, but you have to manage the risk far more

Signals of Risk and what to look for – The Problem we all now face

Managing the Risk of LinkBuilding

  • Audit what you have
  • Have someone audit your links with experience
  • Determine what is risky and what to remove
  • Removing is almost as bad as not removing
  • If you determine what the problem links are, out of every 100 links you identify as bad Google probably only thinks 20 are bad
  • Removing all 100 is as bad for your rankings as getting penalised in some cases


For every link you remove, you have to consider what you might have to add and how

The Myth of Natural Links

  • Poor link metrics (Majestic / Moz / PR)
  • Wrong CCtld
  • Purpose of the site
  • Banned Words
  • Links to bad places
  • Commercial Anchors again and again
  • No interaction on the site
  • No Social Activity on a site (Twitter / Facebook)

What you should be doing:

  • Validate every link opportunity
  • Only buy link building services if the company can demonstrate that they know what risk is and how they handle it
  • Be realistic in your link risk exposure


Don’t follow what everyone else does or you’ll be in the next filter

What to do if you get caught

  • Rebalance and wait for Google
  • Rebuild with caution
  • Link audit and clean up
  • Disavow links you can’t remove
  • If your re-inclusion request is not successful – TRY AGAIN
  • 301’s don’t work like they used to

Photos of Day 1 on G+


Written By
Jackie Hole is an Award Winning Search Marketing consultant specialising in Paid Search, Conversion Improvement and Organic Search / SEO for the USA, Canada and European markets. Starting out in Multimedia & Interface Design, Jackie has over 15 years experience in online marketing and was recently awarded European Search Personality...
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