Google’s pattern matching algorithms such as Panda or Penguin are designed to filter out manipulative practices. However, sometimes it is possible to create these types of patterns completely on accident. These types of accidents can be costly and lead to over analysis because often times they appear innocent to the naked eye.
Below are four common patterns that can easily be created on accident if you aren’t aware of them.
Exact Match Anchor Text (Panda/Penguin)
Some companies are really bad at naming their products/brands or; are really aggressive with their SEO. Either way, the result is something like naming a product/brand almost identical to a key search term. For example, lets say you sell health related products, and you decide to name one of your products, “Easy Weight Loss Plan”. Even though this is the actual name of the product it appears as if it is designed for SEO. Now any link internal and external may appear manipulative because the anchor text will likely contain, “Easy Weight Loss Plan”.
Internal Footer Links (Panda)
Search engines use page segmentation to analyze various sections of a web page. This means that a search engine may consider links and content differently based on where they are located on the page. Internal footer links can be a high risk pattern if they also contain exact match terms. Many times sites will list product categories in the footer that are also aligned with manipulative terms. Using the example above, a category might be “Health Food”. If a link to this category is placed in the footer, then that means that on ever page of the site there is a link with exact match anchor text pointing to one page on the site. This type of pattern is accidental but still may appear manipulative.
Site-Wide Links (Penguin)
If you are a web design company you might be used to adding a signature to the footer of your sites. Some companies do this on all their client sites, and some only do it on sites for clients that agree to a discounted rate. Either way the result is a site wide link that points to the target site from every page on a web site. If enough if these types of link clusters add up, it can come across as a manipulative pattern even if you didn’t intend to manipulate anything.
Accidental Link Networks (Penguin)
You are probably thinking, umm how can one have an accidental link network? Here’s how this typically plays out: A large company will have a handful of different sites for various reasons. To minimize cost they host all the sites on the same shared hosting account. As a result all of the sites have the same IP address. Then because all the sites are owned by the same corporation, they all include a link of some kind back to their parent company’s domain. From a search engine’s perspective this looks exactly like a link network.