Avoid Penguin Penalties: 3 Things to Consider When Evaluating Your Links

Search is a vital marketing channel for any business invested in online growth. And if you want to perform well in search, your link building strategy needs to shine.

Web marketing companies have considered links to be key performance indicators for years, but SEO abuse has forced Google to be more careful with how links are rewarded.

March of the Penguin Update

Google put web marketing companies on notice when it announced that the next Penguin update is coming sometime in 2016. This updated algorithm will advance the strict link quality criteria that Google has been rolling out over the past couple years. This makes it as good a time as any for business owners to evaluate the quality of their current links, and make improvements where possible.

You can save yourself from search penalties if you start cleaning up toxic links now. Penguin is developing into a real-time algorithm, which means you have a chance to avoid devaluation right up until its release date.

Fortunately, it isn’t hard to identify blatantly bad links. Spammy, low-quality links will be:

  • Irrelevant to your website;
  • Lacking any notable audience;
  • Designed solely for web crawlers, and therefore abusive;
  • Associated with spam centers including online gambling, pornography, and payday loan sites;
  • “Pressure selling” to audiences.

A little bit of manual investigation is all it takes to spot serious offenders. When you find them, obliterate them! If you’re a business owner, tell your internet marketing company to remove or disavow these links right away.

Still, you’ll need to be careful during your low-quality link purge. The difference between good and bad is not always quite so black-and-white, and reckless link removal can cost you valuable rankings.

So how do you evaluate the quality of links lurking in the grey zone between good and bad?

3 Things to Consider When Evaluating the Quality of Your Links

There are three overarching categories that you need to consider to properly evaluate “grey area” links:

  • Link relevance. This is the most important factor for you to consider. Links without some degree of relevance are worthless. If you can’t explain why a particular site is linking to yours, then there’s a relevancy issue that you need to address. A link can be relevant in different ways, including domain-to-domain, domain-to-page, page-to-page, and link-to-page. Still, at the end of the day, assessing link relevance boils down to intuition. If a link feels irrelevant, it probably is.

  • Human value. A good link offers real value to real people. Would someone be happy to click on your link? Does it take them somewhere they want to go? Does the linked page provide what they’re looking for? The link needs to provide value for the linker, the site being linked to, and the person following the link. If you can’t establish this value, your link has got to go.

  • Trust and authority. Google always tries to direct users towards authoritative and trustworthy results. Naturally, links from authoritative sites will give your site more authority. Unfortunately, web marketing companies can only guess as to the specifics of Google’s search algorithm and authority calculations. But you can still get an idea of your link authority by conducting niche research about the site’s industry reputation and “link neighbourhood.” Think of your links as endorsements – you want to make sure you’re being endorsed by quality people.


Evaluating link quality is an essential part of web marketing companies’ search-promotion strategy. Google is getting better at distinguishing the good from the bad, and the pending Penguin update is ushering in new standards. Make sure your company avoids penalties and devaluations; learn how bad links removal can help you, or call (416)-619-7935 for a free consultation.

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