​Websites that have been punished by Penguin won't affect other websites PageRank, unless links they've exchanged cash for links.

​At this point, marketers fear and accept Google’s Penguin algorithm as an SEO vigilante. The technology is the Dark Knight, watching over the internet streets and punishing those who dare disrupt the ebb and flow of the ‘net. Brafton reported earlier this month on a study conducted by Portent that noticed the Penguin algo was getting stronger with each new iteration. Matt Cutts recently told marketers Google is simultaneously working harder to protect innocent sites.

Portent found Penguin’s first sweep through the web only affected websites with a link profile made up of approximately 50 percent manipulative links. However, the latest version targeted sites with more than 80 percent bad links. For what it’s worth, the evolution of the Penguin algo shows that the technology is ever evolving and growing smarter with each release – and white hat sites should be okay.

Cutts clarifies questions about black hat linking strategies

Of course, some webmasters wonder how they can control which sites link back to their web presences. In some cases, spammy link directories target websites, link to them and then charge them for the removal of any links. Why should businesses be punished for black hat practices like these? Google’s Matt Cutts explained in a new video that these websites shouldn’t be downgraded, and they won’t be moving forward.

In a 90-second video clip, Cutts explained that when a low-grade website links to another high-quality page and Google knows about the activity, the spam page won’t pass value (or problems) onto the white hat site. He highlighted three points that every web marketer should consider when building a linking strategy for SEO purposes.

  • Websites selling links will see their PageRanks drop by up to 50 percent.
  • Sites affected by Penguin will no longer pass PageRank onto other domains.
  • Sites that purchased links from downgraded link sellers will still be penalized by Penguin.
Build relationships, not links

Links are still important, but only when they come organically. Marketers shouldn’t worry so much about building extensive link profiles when their custom content can do most of the talking for them. At SES NY, Brafton sat in on a session organized by 352 Media Group’s Erin Everhart and SEO Jo Blogs Jo Turnbull, both of whom argued that networking and building relationships with like-minded peers and relevant professionals can often lead to high-quality links and potential business opportunities.

Brafton agrees that relationships lead to links, but we also see that content creation builds organic links, too. Bing’s Duane Forrester seems to agree, telling SMX West attendees, ” Let [link building] come naturally because your content is awesome.” When brands publish authoritative articles that present original information, other industry-specific web presences will use the posts as resources, and likely include them in their own content. This benefits both parties, and helps keep the web honest in terms of linking strategies.

Ted Karczewski is an Executive Communications Associate at Brafton. He works to develop his own voice and apply his passions to the evolving world of SEO and content marketing, but he doesn't shy away from writing for fun. After graduating from Suffolk University, Ted used his Communications degree to test out Sports Journalism before Marketing at Brafton.