The changing face of SEO

Penguin SEOIn the beginning there were links. And in those links were keywords you wanted to rank for. This is how SEO started with Google and this is how it was until just recently. Then a cute little penguin came onto the scene and changed the industry… in a big way.

This (not so little) penguin said ‘hey, if you’re putting the keywords you want to rank for in the links to your site, I’m going to stop you from ranking’. The problem here was most websites that had been implementing SEO for some time had a lot of these types of links, especially if they were ranking at the top of Google.

The penguin also said ‘and you know what, I know what pages should rank for what keywords without needing to have keywords in the links’. What this penguin now wanted was the most important websites in a particular industry ranking at the top of Google… and that meant a move away from keyword links and onto branded links.

So what are branded links?

Branded links are links that have your business name in them. Simple.

And when you think about what this little penguin did for the SEO industry, it’s quite ingenious.

You see, in the past it was quite difficult to get a high value link with the keyword you wanted to rank for in it. Especially if you were targeting specific locations (eg ‘plumber sydney’). That meant that many SEO strategies were developed to build keyword links rather than promote brands.

Google knew the big brands had a lot of links to their website but didn’t have keywords in those links. And it wanted to update its rankings to reflect the strength of brands rather than the strength of SEO.

Now, because Google doesn’t need a keyword to be in a link for it to rank a website for a particular keyword phrase, you can build links that have your business name in them and still rank for the keywords you want. And that means the number of strategies available to build links for SEO have both increased and become a lot more focused on promoting a business rather than trying to squeeze a keyword in.

So how does Google know what pages to rank if they don’t need keywords in the links?

Well, this answer is quite complicated however here’s a quick overview to help you understand…

Links pass authority to a website. A website needs a particular amount of authority to rank for a specific keyword phrase. The authority of a website is passed through to other pages on that site. Google looks at the web pages on the site and then ranks the most relevant page for the specific keyword phrase (it also uses other factors to determine relevancy, but that’s for a different article).

What that means is that a web page can rank for a keyword in Google even if that page doesn’t have any links to it. And even if the none of the links to the entire website have the keyword you’re ranking for in them.

In summary, this little penguin has really lifted the standard of the SEO industry… and that’s a great thing.

At Web Profits, the SEO strategy we implement for our clients is a customised strategy. That means we don’t use a one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter strategy… what we do is customise an SEO strategy for each client we work with based on the keywords they’re targeting, the strength of their competitors and the authority of their website. To find out more, click here to get in touch.

Alex Cleanthous

Alex Cleanthous

Chief Innovation Officer at Web Profits

Alex Cleanthous is Chief Innovation Officer at Web Profits. With more than 10 years experience in online marketing, Alex is always on the lookout for smarter, faster and more scalable ways to achieve maximum growth with minimum spend.


  1. Jeffri Abdulah says:

    Alex really is someone to keep track of.

    November 14th, 2013 at 12:33 pm

  2. Col says:

    It is a good thing if you’re a big brand. Google has now made it extremely difficult for small businesses to outrank the big brands. At least all those spammy sites are gone!

    July 30th, 2014 at 5:42 am