Google announced another update to Penguin's algorithm that is clearly targeting website owners who have bought paid links.
Simplest breakdown: If you have bought links that point back to your website, lose them. And they specifically said, "If your website rankings dropped after Google's Penguin update, you should try to get rid of the paid links."
Think of Google as a bloodhound. They'll sniff these links out eventually. I'm going to keep pound the table on this topic - Google is turning into an "Answer Engine" and morphing away from simply being an index engine. they're going to make this transition by finding the old-school methods of trying to rank content and rewarding sites who are doing things the right way: Creating content that actually helps the user.
Google's exact response has always been a very top-level approach:
We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content. While we can't divulge specific signals because we don't want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.
So, what can you do to act upon this?
Stop thinking like a traditional SEO by relying solely on your ability to use a keyword suggestion tool and place those keywords within your website solely for the purpose of trying to rank for a keyword phrase. Sure, this will continue to work some sites based on the competition and the keywords chosen, but it won't be a successful long term strategy. This is what will separate the real marketers from the hacks.
Google is now in the entity optimization business.
Think of the entities involved with your business - three simple factors need to be highlighted now more than ever:
How will these be all tied together to provide better results? Elements such a Gogle+ profiles, stronger social content, Q&A content & leveraging the Structured Data Markup tool within Google Webmaster Tools will all contribute to the new wave of search marketing.
Google wants to find these entities and tie them together to create deeper meaning behind them using structured data (the semantic web) so they will have better methods of understanding user intent by drawing on larger databases of marketing information.
See, SEO isn't dead. It's just being born.