7 Ways to Protect Your Site Against Google’s Next Update

Google Penguin 2.0 has come and gone…

…but that doesn’t mean Google is done with their updates.

Here are some strategies to “future proof” your site from future Google Penguin updates…and anything else they might have in store.

#1: Stop Guest Posting

Let me get this out of the way:

I think guest posting is a killer link building strategy.

But it shouldn’t be the only strategy that you use.

Remember: the key to avoiding Google penalties is a natural looking link profile. And a site with a too many links from any one source (even guest posts) is asking for a beat down.

There’s also a risk that Google will devalue links coming from guest posts.  There’s simply too many people guest posting on an industrial-scale for them to ignore it.

Also, guest post links are very easy for Google to detect.

Read this: How to make money from blogging in 2022?

Just to be clear: guest posting is an effective and scalable way to build authoritative links.

So maybe “Stop Guest Posting” was a bit too harsh. It should probably be “Stop Guest Posting If It’s Your #1, #2 and #3 Link Building Strategy”.

Action Step:

Don’t Go Overboard With Guest Posting: Guest post links shouldn’t make up more than 40% of your link profile.

#2: Focus On Your LDR

You may have seen the interview with a former member of Google’s Webspam team where he said: “Relevancy is the new PR”.

Google is putting less weight on authority signals like PageRank…

…and more emphasis on Linking Domain Relevancy (LDR).

LDR simply means: “Is a site that links to you in a similar niche?”.

Let’s say that you run a site about dog food. It makes sense that a fair amount of your link profile would be made up of links from sites about pets and dog food.

Obviously, you’d have some links from unrelated sites. And there would be a few links from “general” sites, like web directories and press release sites.

But the fact remains: any dog food site with a natural link profile will have links from other dog food sites.

I think Google’s next update will focus on LDR. Sites with a link profile full of unrelated links are going to get hit.

In fact, this may already be a Penguin penalty factor.

Check out this chart from Microsite Masters.com’s Penguin Analysis:

Sites without relevant links were 50% more likely to get hit by Penguin.

Action Step:

Focus on LDR: Make sure that at least 30% of your links are niche-relevant. They don’t have to be in the exact same niche, but they should have some LDR.

Read this: 41+ Most Beneficial Blog Niches 2022

#3: Smart Anchor Text Diversity

You already know that diversifying your anchor text is a must.

Sadly, most people go about anchor text the wrong way.

Instead of replicating a legit link profile…

…they mix in spammy, keyword-stuffed anchor text with “here” and “this site”.

That doesn’t look very natural to me (or Google).

And I’m sure — just like with Penguin — Google is going to use anchor text as a factor for their next update.

Just look at SEOMoz.org’s link profile (which I assume is pretty legit):

Almost 80% of their anchor text is unique!

And only 1% is “here”:

The rest is a mix of brand, webmaster name (Rand Fishkin) and URL anchor text.

And if you look at any real site you’ll see something similar to SEOMoz’s anchor text distribution.

I don’t have a magic ratio, but this ratio should give you an idea of what your anchor text distribution should look like:

30%: Brand Anchor Text (Backlinko)

10%: Bare URL (http://backlinko.com/)

10%: Domain name (Backlinko.com)

10%: Webmaster name anchor text (Brian Dean)

5%: Generic anchors (here, this blog post, website)

45%: Unique anchor text (this post on Google updates by Brian, his link building website, according to Brian Dean’s post)

1%: Money keyword anchor text (link building)

Action Step:

Get Smart About Anchor Text: Use branded, domain, and webmaster name anchor text more often.

#4: Build Brand Signals

One of the best ways to protect your site against Google penalties is to look like a big brand. After all, Google gives brands special treatment.

Like all Google updates, unbranded niche sites are going to get hit the hardest when the next update rolls around.

Fortunately, you don’t need a six-figure marketing budget to build an online brand for your site.

Here are some cost effective ways to build brand signals quickly:

Legit Looking Site: At a bare minimum your site should rock a custom design and logo. Go the extra mile with trust-building brand signals like a physical address and 1-800 number on your contact page.

Social Media Presence: Google uses the number of Facebook fans and Google+ followers to determine whether or not you’re a brand. Brands that you probably wouldn’t expect to be big on social media have huge followings…which tells Google that they’re a brand they can trust. If you want to look like a brand it’s important to spend time on these platforms and grind out a following.

Branded Searches: It’s pretty simple: people search for brands. Even though Backlinko is brand new, people already search for it in Google:

After the blasted “(not provided)”, Backlinko is the #1 keyword people use to find my site (and #4 is my homepage URL).

Google Authorship: Most brands have verified Google authors writing for their site. If you want to look REALLY big, get several verified author accounts for each site that you own:

Action Step:

Build Brand Signals: Spend some of the time you spend on link building creating brand signals for your site.

#5: Stop Spamming Social Signals

If social signals are ever going to become a major part of the Google algorithm then they’ll have to get really good at spotting fake signals.

I think the next major update is going to target sites with phony Tweets, fake Facebook likes and hyped-up AuthorRank. Just look at this spammy Clickbank review site’s social signals:

thousand tweets?! Yeah, right.

And Google may even hit sites linked to social media accounts with fake followers. It’s actually pretty easy to spot: a Twitter account with 10 tweets and zero engagement isn’t going to have 10,000 followers.

You need to be especially careful about gaming Google+. That’s trying to fool their own algorithm with their own product. They’re going to be very proactive about hitting sites that try to do that.

At the very least, they’ll use social signals to confirm the legitimacy of your links. Think about it: how likely is it that a page with thousands of real links has absolutely no Tweets or Facebook shares?

Action Step:

Be Smart About Social Signals: Don’t build an unnatural amount of Facebook Likes, Tweets (and especially) Google +1s. Like with backlinks, social signals are about quality…not quantity.

#6: Build Up Your Site’s Trust

Here’s a breakdown of the Google algorithm:

Relevancy + Authority + Trust = Rank

Most people put 100% of their time and energy towards relevancy (“title tags!”) and authority (“PageRank!”)…

…and completely ignore trust.

Trust is a HUGE part of the algorithm.

And when Google rolls out updates, trust is your penalty-dodging trump card.

That’s why a lot of sites with almost 100% keyword anchor text survived the Penguin update: they had so much trust that Google looked the other way.

If you haven’t already, take a look at your site’s Trust Flow at Majestic SEO:

And your MozTrust at OpenSiteExplorer.

You want your Trust Flow to be at least half of your Citation Flow. Shoot for a MozTrust of 5 or above.

Get Trusted: Get as many links as you can from sites that have lots of .edu and .gov links (better yet, get links directly from .edus and .govs!).

#7: Proactively Prune Bad Links

To stay one step ahead of the upcoming Google update you need to be proactive.

Waiting for the next update — and then frantically trying to clean up the mess — isn’t a very proactive approach to SEO.

Related: SEO factors that will surely affect your Search Engine Rankings

You probably have a few links in your profile that you’re not proud of (it’s OK, we all do). Why not get rid of them today…before it’s too late?

Head over to ahrefs or your link analysis tool of choice and evaluate your link profile.

Pay special attention to:

  • Anchor text distribution
  • LDR
  • Trust metrics
  • Deep links vs. homepage link ratio (you want at least 40% of your links to be deep links)
  • Excessive links from a single link type (guest posts, press releases, article directories)

Remember that Google looks at your link profile as a whole, and so should you.

Don’t freak out if you have a few shady links. As long as your link profile looks natural, you’ll be OK.

Prune Bad Links: Delete any links that could hurt you down the road. If you buy links, you may have to reach out to the network owner and kindly ask them to delete your link. I’ve actually done this for clients and have a 100% success rate so far.