Google recently released their “Penguin 2.0″ update and a lot of sites have been penalized because they have been selling links that violated Google’s webmaster guidelines. The sites that got hit were not only sites that sold links on their homepage (like Penguin 1.0) but also those who have been selling links on their inside pages. This includes many sites that allowed for excessive “guest posts” and “sponsored posts”.
Penguin Update 2.0
As Google’s algorithms get more and more complex and Google as an organization becomes smarter they have also been increasing the staff in their webspam team. This gives them the resources making them capable of auditing and penalizing sites that are indeed violating their guidelines. In order to avoid such penalties, we have a couple of suggestions that will help your website.
You can sell advertising links but if you sell SEO links, and that is links that pass pagerank and rankings, then you are violating Google’s guidelines and you could be penalized. As mentioned earlier, Google has complex and advanced algorithms that detect such links. They also have staff in their webspam team that can audit suspected sites. Safest way is that you refrain from selling links that pass page rank and play by the rules.
If you have affiliate text links or sponsored text links on your website, then you need to make sure you make it clear for both the user and search engines that these are sponsored text links. Same deal with sponsored posts. If you have such posts and they have links in them, then Google will consider those links as paid links and if you don’t tag them with a nofollow tag (rel=”nofollow“) then you risk violating Google’s guidelines. Google’s Link Schemes explains this thoroughly how to deal with non editorial links on your website.
Guest Posting Tips
Some sites were penalized for having poor quality guest posts. Having guest posts is not bad but having low quality guest posts will hurt your ranking. The fix around this, is to remove poor quality guest posts and only leave the high quality guest post on your site. Keep quality as high as it can get by making sure the content is both relevant and useful to your website users and followers. Improve the content presentation by adding nice article formatting and adding images and enhancing overall visuals.
Visuals are keys to leave a good impression for the readers of an article. An article without graphs and images is less presentable and favorable than ones with images. If you don’t have any graphs or related visuals, make sure your guest post has at least a few images that fit your content (like this post).
If you are concerned with copyright issues, then you can look into royalty free stock images or even invest in stock photos. They can be very affordable and there are great selection of stock photography online at reasonable prices you can choose from. Keep in mind, the more relevant images in your posts, the more visual and presentable your guest post becomes to the users and less likely search engines will mark those posts as spam post.
Think User Experience
General tip, you want to make sure your website is presentable and useful for your readers. If your readers like your website and your content, it is very unlikely for Google to mark your website or its content as spam and penalize you. Google simply wants to deliver its viewers high quality websites and content in their search results.