To make it through Penguin 2.0 and beyond, it's crucial that you clean house. This means throwing bad links in the garbage and monitoring those you deem "good."
To help you do so, we look to Steven Forsyth of In The Company Of Huskies. Steven recently wrote an excellent blog on how to not only survive the Penguin 2.0 update but thrive in its wake. At Foster Web Marketing, we agree that the following steps will help you get your site clean and keep it that way—assuring you an attorney website that flourishes, no matter what Google throws at it:
- Step 1: Review Your Links. To find out which links are pointing to your website, it's recommended that you use SEOMoz, MajesticSEO, and Google Webmaster Tools. Each of these sites allows you to download all the backlinks they find pointing to your website. Enter all the links the three sources gave you into a spreadsheet, and remove any duplicates. This should give you a very complete link profile.
- Step 2: Grade Your Links. With your spreadsheet complete, you'll need to grade your links. This will take time, as you'll have to look at each site and determine the quality of the link. What you want is a list of Good Links (high traffic from reputable websites), OK Links (decent sites that don't generate site traffic), Paid Links (nofollowed, high-traffic links), Advertising Links (add a nofollow tag to these, see below), and Spam (any links that appear to be added just to cheat search results). Make a list of just the Good, OK, and Paid Links, and use a link management tool like the one at BuzzStream to monitor these links. Once they have your list, they will alert you if any of the links change status so that you can take action, such as removing bad links.
- Step 3: Add Nofollow Tags. Have you paid someone to advertise on a website or blog? Hint: These are your Advertising Links from above. If so, it's important that these links do not help you rank better for certain search terms. To ensure they don't, you'll need to apply a nofollow tag to your Advertising Links. This will save you from being penalized for buying or selling links.
- Step 4: Clean Your Link Profile. Your last job is to deal with any bad links—those you marked Spam Links. To get rid of these, you'll need to contact the webmaster for each of the sites and politely ask that they remove the tag. This can be problematic, as some of the sites no longer have a webmaster. However, it's important that you try. If there are links you simply cannot get rid of, try using Google’s Link Disavow Tool. Google will look over the links and, if they find that they cannot be removed manually, they will discount their value.
Maintaining Your Squeaky Clean Image
Now that you've done the work required to clean up any bad links on your site and monitor the good, it's time to figure out how best to keep your website clean. For starters, it's important that you not let links scare you. Search engines still use links in their ranking algorithms, so it's crucial that you keep creating links; you'll just want to check that sites that link to yours are of good quality and from reputable sites.
To do so, every month or so, go through the steps above and assess the cleanliness of the links associated with your site. Think of it like washing your hands before you eat; 20 seconds of good hard scrubbing every so often can save your attorney website from coming down with a case of Dirty Link Penalty-itis.
Interested in a Free Website Cleaning Service?
In response to our clients' concerns over the constant stream of updates from Google, we are now offering a free web audit for attorneys. We will comb over your site and identify any bad links, bad content, and over-optimization. Our attorney SEO strategy team will then suggest the best way to clean up your site, thereby protecting your law firm from the next round of updates.