When the Google Penguin update hit the market I had been involved in the SEO for under 1 year. I was in the process of scraping link profiles on a daily basis and was amazed with the tactics certain sites got away with up until that point.
I found that 80-90% of the backlinks of a typical affiliate site that was doing well in the rankings were rented/paid and the rest of the links consisted of spammy blog comments, forum signature posts, free directories and articles spinning etc.
Sites earned a 5 figure sum on a monthly basis in commissions from the traffic/registrations they drove – Post penguin these safe affiliate sites are sending 90% less traffic than it use to and here’s why I believe affiliate sites (particularly in the gambling industry) were so heavily effected.
1) No Anchor text distribution:
If you have hundreds of links with ” roulette” as anchor text you are not doing yourself any favours In this case the affiliates I’m using in my research, they didn’t have a diversified enough profile.
2) Low quality backlinks
Up until more recently, spammy tactics such as forum signature posting, article spinning, cheap directories, and blog spamming did actually work quite well. Dozens of sites that ranked high for highly competitive keywords were using these tactics and probably didn’t have to spend much time or money on link building. Most of these sites vanished from the rankings post penguin and I’m still not seeing them recover.
3) Link velocity
Building hundreds of links in the space of a month with the same anchors can be unnatural. It might work for a while but you need to expect that a few months down the line your site may-be vanished from the rankings, for ever. In order to do this properly you need an incremental roll out plan & you also need to invest in other sources of traffic.
4) No branded searches/ brand signals
80% of the backlink profile targeted generic non-branded anchor text with almost no diversification. It’s no longer good enough to diversify the anchors for your main keywords, you need naturalise your link profile as much as possible, include anchors such as your URL and Business Name. Basically don’t do things that look unnatural to the search engines.
5) Link relevance
Sites that had cheap backlinks from irrelevant sites got hammered by algo-updates, that’s what happens when your link building strategy consists of buying links from fiverr
6) Link networks
Gambling sites that rent hundreds of links from link networks. A huge percentage of these networks with a few exceptions offer a large amount of links for a really good price per year. You will be amazed with what these guys get away with, some of the sites I analysed scraped content from about.com pages, replicated across multiple domains and included anchor links in the content. Sooner of later these sites get hammered and if you have 100 links pointing to your site it will most probably negatively affect your rankings at some point unless you own a huge established brand, that dominates the market, invests bucket loads in PPC, has great domain authority, tones of brand searches and has a huge varied link profile which I’m guessing if you are reading this you probably don’t.
The exceptions that I’m on about are not easily found therefore you would have to do a whole lot of scraping and emailing before you come across any of these networks.
Some of them place a few free links to major sites as bait for SEO’s scraping the profiles and going after the same links. So once you make contact with them and you’ve bought a few links they introduce to their hidden backend management system that allows you to buy, edit & schedule links to go live at any time.
A list of things you should & shouldn’t be doing if you own a gambling Affiliate.
Everybody that’s involved in the SEO side of gambling knows that paid links are the way forward as it extremely difficult to get free links without having to use spammy tactics that will now get you penalised. You don’t only need a budget 0 $xxxxxx for year one, you also need to keep in mind that you are most likely to need twice the amount the year after in order to keep things going.
I know that outsourcing cheap link building can be tempting and can work for a while however if you don’t want to burn your site here’s what you should be avoiding:
- Blog commenting, scraping for do follow comments, comment luv etc
- Signature links in forums
- Spammy cheap directories
- Spammy article sites/ article spinning tactics
- Link networks, paying for cheap links from a huge list of sites
And here’s what you should be doing:
- Focus on building a brand, it’s not easy, you need to differentiate your site from tones of other sites out there that offer the exact same service, think outside of the box and offer something different.
- Diversify you anchors as much as possible.
- Diversify your link sources as much as possible.
- Evaluate your links with industry tools such as SEMrush & majestic SEO, you need to be sure that the links you’re buying will not burn you a couple of months down the line.
- Scrape the link profiles of your main competitors that are doing well in the rankings and start going after some of their links.
- Invest in Social Media
- Invest in PPC
- Last but not least if you’re in this market and you’re here to stay your site needs to be spotless from an on site optimisation point of view.