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Google Penguin 4.0: The Penguin, The Possum, and Your Rankings

google penguin 4.0Unless you’ve been offline for the past few weeks, you know Google finally updated its Penguin algorithm. The search giant is once again shaking up the SEO world with a new approach for qualifying links.

If you’re like us and have been riding the previous Penguin update for the past 700+ days, listen up:

Ignoring the nuances of Google Penguin 4.0 means missing out on Google’s 40,000 search queries per second. That’s 144,000,000 queries per hour.

If even a tenth of a percent of those searches were tailored towards your product, you’d have 14,400 opportunities per hour to promote your brand. Don’t let sloppy link building cost you that many potential eyes.

In addition to Google Penguin 4.0, Google also added another update in early September that you might have missed. SEO experts are calling it Possum, because of the way it has made Google My Business profiles play “possum,” or dead.

Possum focused on revamping Google’s local filter for businesses. If you woke up one early September morning and found your businesses’ rank plummeted, Possum is why.

We’re going to take you through a short introduction of Possum and Google Penguin 4.0 so you can stay in the know about Google’s ever-changing ideas on search rankings.

Remember, by the time you’re done reading this, something in the SEO world will change, so take your research beyond this article.

Google Penguin 4.0

The Google Penguin 4.0 update focused on refining the process to check for quality links. We’re actually really excited about the potential this update holds.

The first major change is that Google Penguin 4.0 is real-time. That means updates roll out continuously instead of in intervals. This is fantastic for a few reasons.

Google is now able to monitor sites trying to use questionable linking practices in real-time. Shoddy linking techniques used to hide out between updates with no problems. Google can now identify and penalize those techniques as they develop.

This means honest link building services (like us) don’t have to compete with garbage flying under the radar.

On the flip side, websites who inadvertently used a bad strategy or less than quality links won’t have to wait for another update to see penalties lifted. This gives more wiggle room for innovation.

The second part of the Google Penguin 4.0 update is a restructuring of how Google handles link penalties. Search rank demotion will now target specific web pages within a website. This means your “red dresses” web page can take a hit while your “blue dresses” page won’t see any penalty.

What Google Penguin 4.0 really boils down to is Google playing hardball, but in a friendly way. Poor link building is harder to get away with, but it’s easier than ever to make amends.


Possum came about abruptly and shrouded in more mystery than Penguin 4.0.

In early September the MozCast temperature skyrocketed to levels not seen in quite some time. No official word from Google left many of us scratching our heads.

What we noticed was a change in how local businesses were ranked.

Businesses just outside of a defined area (like a city or town) traditionally gained little from adding a local identifier to their keyword list. For instance, “home painters Rochester” wouldn’t help, and could even hurt, a business just outside Rochester’s city limits.

The update completely reversed this.

Joy Hawkins, a product consultant at Imprezzio Marketing, saw a client located just outside of the Sarasota city limits jump from #31 to #10 for the search term “Home Inspector Sarasota” after the update.

For local businesses, this means good things for targeting nearby metro areas.

The physical location of the Google searcher also comes into play more than before. Someone searching in Houston will see different search results for the same keywords as someone in Boston.

A business with branches in Boston and Houston will still rank for “Boston doctor” in Houston, though it will rank much lower than their Houston location.

Perhaps the biggest change is Google’s decision to start filtering 3-pack results based on address and affiliation. Previously only phone numbers and domain names were taken into account.

This will come as a shock to any business with multiple branches, contractors, or affiliated websites. The new Possum algorithm filters out pages that are deemed “too closely linked.”

Two lawyers from the same law firm probably won’t show up in the same 3-pack results. They share an address, an affiliation, and are possibly linked under the law firm’s GMB.

Further, if the law firm owns two locations in town, chances are they won’t return together in the results. It’s kind of unnerving at first, but Google has more knowledge than we first suspected about who owns what companies.

The last piece to the local filter puzzle is its new ability to return affiliated pages based on keywords. In our law firm example “best lawyer” might return the law firm while “best auto lawyer” will return a specific individual.

As a whole, Possum seems focused on the user experience.

It certainly will change how we view affiliated websites and their ability to return in the SERPs. The days of dominating the 3-pack seem long gone.

This all seems like information that makes it harder on businesses to dominate search rankings. And yeah, it kind of is. Though we need to remember that users are the primary reason we bother with SEO in the first place.

Some of these changes will no doubt benefit on our end as well. More focused search results could lead to more trust in your business when it does appear in the SERPs.

If you’re looking for a quality link building service, get in contact with us. We have programs for both link buyers and link sellers that can help improve your websites SEO.

We strive to provide only high-quality links that boost your page rank where other services failed. We’re also always watching new Google algorithm trends and are always ready to discuss any questions you might have about SEO.

Also be sure to check back to our blog, where we’ll continue to dissect the ever evolving world of SEO.

Backlink Builder

The Backlink Builder’s Ultimate Guide to Linking Like a Boss

Your site on Video Gaming Trends is up and running, with valuable content people need!

But no one is finding your site.

So, what do you do to fix that?

That’s where being an expert backlink builder comes in.

You’ve likely heard about backlinks at this point and have tried to do some things to improve your rankings.

It’s time to up your backlink builder game, and we’re going to show you how.

Why you should care

Your SEO score

When someone searches “video games”, you want to make sure your page is found.

Otherwise, why bother?

To do that, you’ve got to score high enough to get you onto that first page of search results (SERP, or Search Engine Results Page).

But, rankings aren’t just about having the right keywords.

Webmaster guidelines

You need to make sure you’re following the guidelines from Google and Bing.

Learn what the search engines look for, since that’s what will decide if people searching for video gaming trends find you, and not your competitor!

Organic isn’t just for vegetables

You may be running ads on social sites, or taking other steps to drive traffic to your site.

But good backlinks, on quality sites, can boost your ranking and bring you more organic traffic.

When someone searches “video gaming” or “video game trends,” that’s an organic search result. And you want your site shown on that first page of results.


Research shows that while a whopping 93% of online searches begin with a search engine, nearly three-quarters of those users never click past the first page of results.

You’re fighting for a share of a user’s limited attention span and time, so you need to make sure you’re coming up at the top of the SERP.

So, where do I begin?

We’re going to start with the basics of being a backlink builder and then go pro. Even if you’re already doing some of this, a refresher can’t hurt. Things change often, so you need to stay at the top of your game, to keep your site at the top of the SERPs.

Start here: in just 2 minutes, Joe can help you formulate your link building strategy.

The basics

You want a link to your content, on someone else’s site.

Great, go visit a site you like and post a comment, with a link back to yours.

Voila, a backlink was created!

Not so fast.

Dofollow, nofollow sounds like a new kids game, an updated version of tag. But far from it! You need a spot of history to understand where these HTML tags came from.

Quality and quantity

Backlinks aren’t just about the number of sites that link back to yours. If a site selling beauty products links to yours about video games, chances are good that site really has nothing to do with gamers (especially if the link is in the comments).

In the early days of SEO, a backlink was a backlink, and you were scored on quantity. The latest beauty product and video games go together forever, right?


Google has figured out how to make sure that you don’t get credit for something so blatant and created dofollow and nofollow.

Basically, if you jam a link into the comments section of a site at random, it will likely be marked nofollow, and it won’t improve your score.

If it’s a WordPress site, the owner can remove the automatically-added-in-the-comments nofollow tag. Having the right balance of dofollow and nofollow will round out your own profile so it appears more natural.

Not all comments are bad, though.

Links in the comments section will still bring you referral traffic: it’s a safe bet that you’ve clicked through at least once to only read the comments (it’s ok, you can admit it).

Upping the ante

One ring doesn’t rule them all

Make sure you’re creating links to individual posts and articles, not your general site. Ranking is scored on pages, not websites.

Forbes magazine even wrote an article last year about the death of the homepage (though reports of its death may be slightly exaggerated).

So make sure you’re linking to all that great content, one page at a time.

You’re not the only one

So, you want quality links. Sites that have established their own authority, and will lend credibility to yours.

But how?

Domains that end in .gov or .edu are likely run by government agencies, so those are great spots for back links if you can get them. The age of a domain is important, too. If your friend just launched his site last month, his site won’t have the same authority as one that’s several years old. Backlinks on a home page can score higher, so aim for those if you can!

Expert level

Ah-HA! You’ve conquered the basics, you’re a backlink builder, and things are looking up. Let’s hit the next level of becoming an expert.

Get your toolbox out

You need to analyze how things are going. You did your research before creating your backlinks, but it’s important to check your actual results.

There are a variety of tools to help. Neil Patel has a great list of 13 tools you can use.

Write for someone else

I know, it seems counterintuitive, to spend your limited time writing for another site.


Guest blogging is a great way to extend your influence. Contact webmasters of sites you’ve identified that would be helpful to your site, and offer to write a post for them.

You may get turned down, but you’ll likely get at least a few that will say yes. And for those that accept, don’t once-and-done them. Make sure you check in periodically for new opportunities.

When you write for someone else, you’ll likely get a byline, which may come with a bio section. That one or two sentence description of you is a good spot for backlink, but having them in the content is better.

You’re not done

Being a backlink building machine isn’t a one-time thing.

  • Make sure you’re keeping up on the changes and updates to the guidelines
  • Keep your content and site refreshed and current

Like managing your social media, or deciding on where to advertise, backlinks should be an important part of your overall strategy’s automation platform can help when you’re ready to take things to the next level.

link builders

Link Builders Talk Backlinks and Their Immediate Results in 2016

Here at BackLinks we consider ourselves to be expert link builders in a world where building connections has been undervalued.

Some in the industry have signaled the end of backlinking as a strategy. Even to the point where Google’s own John Mueller recommended businesses avoid link building.

But, why are such high ranking people in the online marketing world telling us this? It goes against everything we’ve been taught.

The problem is rooted in definitions. What do you think of when you think backlinks? If the first thing that comes to mind are active and vibrant links that lead to the content you expect to see, then you probably aren’t in the John Mueller camp.

But if the first thing that comes to mind are useless or broken links, then yes, backlinking is dead.

We are here to show you why this simply isn’t true and to help you get immediate results this year with backlinks.

1. Link Builders Talk Backlinks: Why Backlinking Is (still) Important

Search engines still monitor website quality through the number of quality links back to its content from other sites.

Google might be the giant in the search engine world, but it still doesn’t have a human brain.

While it can’t determine “quality” like humans can, it can use the number of links connected to a website (and the authority of those sites) to make a “relevance” judgment call.

Take this Moz study. They looked at the top fifty Google search results of 15,000 keywords to find out what correlated with higher search rankings.

They found that 99% of top rated websites had at least one external backlink and that 77% had at least one link extending outward to another site.

You need backlinks for your site to rank. The correlation is there. And, if the top rated sites are still using backlinks to rank, you should too.

Backlinks bring traffic. No matter your opinion on how they change your SERPS, you know they’re effective.

The only way you can rank without backlinks is with obscure search phrases. But then, again, who types in “Candle Pancake Glowworm” unless they are extremely bored?

That’s not a way to get traffic.

2. Link Builders Talk Backlinks: How Now Shall We Backlink?

Create links to content users want to read. As with YouTube’s engagement algorithm where YouTubers could get an audience to create false engagement to trick the machine into ranking videos higher, so it was with Google’s pre-Penguin algorithm and backlinks.

Spam was king pre-Penguin, and many businesses probably took part in the hack fest. It didn’t matter what you linked back to, as long as you had more links back to your content than the next guy.

Once Google figured this out, they changed the algorithm, thus changing the game.

Now Google looks at quality links and somehow factors the accuracy of the link into their algorithm. (Plus, spam is so 2001 anyway.)

Although, numbers still count. It’s no longer just the number of links.

The lesson here is that quality links will influence your rankings better than poor, inaccurate links.

And if you have many quality links, that’s a double benefit for you in the long run. Not only will you have more traffic, but those users who do click will find what they were looking for.

More satisfaction means more positive vibes for your brand.

A Quick Word on Guest Posts

For a time guest posts were hugely popular. Then, two years ago they were dead. We’re surprised nobody threw a wake.

But why were they considered dead? Well, just like the spam of yon pre-Penguin days, guest posting was also abused to trick the Googlebot into ranking websites higher.

Yet, as long as you use the tool appropriately, it will work as intended.

If you allow other bloggers to post thin, unrelated content, you will surely push away your audience.

Poor curation of your guest blogs will bring about a bad name for you and your brand.

To curate your guest posts properly, bring in bloggers from other areas of the same industry. If you are a tabletop gaming company, bring in top reviewers in that industry to write excellent reviews of games you sell.

3. Link Builders Talk Backlinks: How Fast Could You See Results

Link building takes time. This is one of the reasons why some in the industry have declared link building useless.

But those who studied the turnaround time between link creation and elevated SERP ranking used too large of data sets and extremely difficult keywords.

It’s best to look at smaller studies with smaller businesses farther down on the SERP. did a small study with their own legal clients and found much faster results.

The company performed four case studies. The words that stand out in each are “immediate” and “persistent”. None of this waiting two to three to six month for your rankings to increase.

These small businesses proved the thesis correct. That with smaller, lower ranked businesses we would see major gains in traffic and SERP ranking.

The four case studied businesses experienced immediate traffic gains from 14-65%. For a small business, that is a massive increase.

Either way, you look at those results, you cannot deny the impact link-building had on real world businesses.

Conclusion: Create Connections

As link builders, we would like to leave you with one more piece of advice. Link building is about creating connections. You want to network with people and businesses you respect and for whom you would return the favor.

Later on, partnerships and deals might arise because of earlier exchanges meant to merely help each other climb the SERP ladder.

The field of marketing is increasingly becoming a place about respect and co-creation.

No one is an island in this sea of internet connectivity. If we can’t stand together, we will never improve or survive.

If you have further questions about link building, buying links, selling links, or you just want to tell us how you feel, don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know.