You probably saw all sorts of signs and signals that something was afoot even before the Panda and Penguin algorithm changes were published. Nobody will blame you if you didn’t take them seriously, after all Google has done plenty in the past to test your reliability. But that is all in the past, and many things a lot of businesses ignored in the past have to be addressed.
The lines aren’t sharp though so all that anybody can really do is to hope for the best and make an educated guess about what to do. Just about the blurriest area to deal with is on-page SEO and what or what isn’t too much in terms of Google’s happiness. A ton of conflicting advice exists about this online. This is why you need to make sure that you trust the advice you want to take the most.
People that have websites should be concerned about the anchor text link to their website. The Penguin update focused heavily upon this. Using the same anchor text over and over has been found to be a bad idea. It is important that your anchor text be exceptionally natural at this point. You have to have other words along with your brand name. So there has to be variation, not using your exact match keyword phrases with every link submission. These will raise the proverbial red flags with the Google people. Your website can actually lose ranking now because of the negative SEO tactics that can be utilized.
Google is on high alert for anything that will even remotely resemble spam. One of the areas that are typically unclear are site wide links. Most of the time these are the links you’ll see in a website’s footer…or right on top of it. When it comes to linking this kind of shotgun approach is pretty common. You’re just asking to get into trouble if you make these links identical site wide. This means you should either take them down or take away their site-wide nature. You can still use the area for links, just do not allow those links to be site wide. Of course it’s best to not repeat any anchor text in those links, either.
You should also try to figure out how people behave when they are looking at SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages). This can work for an against you so make sure you consider it carefully. One consistent behavior is that people tend to feel drawn to numbers when perusing a SERP. They’ll click on pretty much anything with numbers in it. It’s not exactly a new concept, copywriting strategy has proven that there is a lot more activity for the pages whose headlines contain numbers (or on which numbers are featured prominently). This is easy enough to manipulate in your favor but it decreases your link targeting. The veterans of search marketing at Google will be the least fazed by Penguin algorithm changes. The reason is they’ve been through previous updates, like Panda. Search marketers who are experienced understand that all they have to do is figure out what the algorithm is searching for and then do that.