King penguinsCOURSE GOAL

Update link-building training for EnVeritas Group staff members and contractors in response to new Google Penguin algorithm changes


Needs analysis

Training is required to bring both new and existing staff members and contractors up to date with very recent changes in Google’s search algorithms. Since EVG offers content marketing services (closely related to SEO), it is important that everyone understands these changes and can adapt, if necessary, content strategies and writing styles in light of them.

eLearning is the best solution because of EVG’s staffing structure – a few permanent staff members in the headquarters in South Carolina, a couple of permanent staff members in Europe and a large network of freelancer writers, editors and translators across the world.

Geographical differences mean it is impossible to get everyone together in the same room, while time differences and conflicting work schedules make it hard to get everyone together for a webinar or gotomeeting.

Since the topic is not essential for all staff members, and does not have to be taught immediately, it is best to have an eLearning course that can be performed at any time without the need for a tutor. An eLearning course also allows new contractors and staff members to get up to speed without having to wait for a tutor to schedule a staff training course.

Target audience analysis

Learners are from all over the world, but all speak English at least to some extent. However, they are in very different time zones so the course should not require them to communicate in real time with one another.

Most learners are professional writers and editors with knowledge of SEO, content marketing and current trends in these fields. The topic of Google’s Penguin algorithm changes will not be unknown to them, but they may not know the full details.

Learners are all proficient at the use of computers and web-based tools. Almost all have good internet connections and large screens and can watch online video without trouble.

Learners may have to fit this tutorial in around other work (e.g. at lunchtimes, downtimes) so best to keep it short but sweet – or broken down into separate chapters.

Task and topic analysis

  1. The use of hyperlinks by search engines to determine page rankings
    • Types of hyperlinks: internal, inbound, outbound (facts)
    • Google’s use of hyperlinks in PageRank (facts)
    • Importance of internal hyperlinks (principles)
    • Importance of inbound hyperlinks  (principles)
    • Importance of outbound hyperlinks  (principles)
    • Importance of anchor text  (principles)
  2. Likely consequences of the latest Google Penguin algorithm update
    • Background on Google Penguin (facts)
    • Update on Google Penguin 2.0 (facts)
    • How to adapt to Google Penguin 2.0 (principles)
  3. How links relate to social media and blogs
    • Role of links from blogs in search rankings (principles)
    • Role of links from social media sites e.g. Facebook (principles)
    • Role of links from blog comments (principles)
  4. Best practices for building a high-quality link network
    • How to analyze an existing website’s link network
    • How to analyze a new website’s market, niche, image and resources
    • Identify appropriate link-building opportunities
    • How to attract spontaneous inbound links (principles/procedures)
    • How to create inbound links through news releases, guest blogging and outreach (principles/procedures)
    • Best practices for outbound links on a website (principles)
    • Setting KPIs for building link networks
  5. What to avoid in a link-building strategy
    • Link-swapping (concepts)
    • Link farms (concepts)
    • Other black-hat SEO techniques (concepts)
  6. Harmful links and Link Disavowal tool
    • How to check for potentially harmful links to a website (procedures)
    • How to remove harmful links to your site (procedures)
    • Google’s Link Disavowal tool – how it works and when to use it (procedures)


Learning objectives

  1. Describe the role of hyperlinks in determining a website’s search engine rankings
  2. Describe Google Penguin 2.0 and understand its effect on SEO and content marketing
  3. Analyze and evaluate the quality of a website’s link structure
  4. Apply the principles of effective link-building and link removal to existing websites
  5. Create an effective link-building strategy for a brand new website



Download sequencing scheme

Note: Not all learners are required to take the same learning path. Some learners may already know enough to skip the first learning objective. Only those involved with client strategy are required to complete the full course.

Instructional strategy

The various courses differ widely in the type of learning involved, so a range of instruction methods are needed.

  • Expositive
    • presentations (for facts/principles)
    • case studies (for facts/principles)
    • demonstrations (for procedures)
  • Application
    • guided research (for facts/principles)
    • project work (for procedures)
  • Collaborative (if possible)
    • online guided discussion via the forum
    • collaborative work
    • peer tutoring

Delivery strategy

  • Self-paced asynchronous course so everyone can do it in their own time
  • Forum for FAQs and discussion with other learners
  • In-house expert available for queries and to manage forum
  • Peer review and in-house expert to evaluate link strategies coursework (result of learning objective 5)

Evaluation strategy

  • Confirmative: purpose is to measure the effectiveness of the training immediately after the course has been implemented
  • Assess learners’ knowledge and skills before the start of the course
  • Assess learners’ knowledge and skills after each section of the course through in-built quizzes
  • Assess advanced learners’ ability to create an effective link-building strategy before allowing him/her to perform this service for a real client
  • Survey learners immediately after course and respond to feedback
  • Schedule regular updates at intervals, particularly after major changes to Google’s algorithms


Content development

Downloads/extra resources:

  • PDF downloads of each unit where possible
  • Answers to quiz questions and explanations if applicable
  • Links to useful resources/good articles on the web for each section
  • Glossary of terms
  • Link to forum for discussion/FAQs
  • Contact and email of in-house expert

Storyboard development


Note: Each unit should not take more than 30 minutes to complete.

Structure: 1st slide = Learning objectives. Slides 1-3 = Introduction. Slides 4-25: Content. Last slide: Summary and where to go next. At the end of each chapter, quiz testing knowledge gained in that chapter.

Courseware development

Will use a mix of scenarios, toolkit and demonstration-practice approaches, along with examples and real-life case studies.

  • Benefits of toolkit approach: Learners can pick any unit from the list, and don’t need to do it in order although they are encouraged to. This enables learners to choose their own custom path through the content.
  • Benefits of scenario approach: Learners apply principles to concrete situations and can be tested using simple quizzes.
  • Benefits of demonstration-practice approach: Learners can follow procedures then cement them in their memories by practicing.
  • Benefits of case studies: Grounds skills in real-life, job-related situations.
  • Camtasia. Simple video software suitable for demonstration videos.
  • Powerpoint/iSpring: Regular presentations with interactive content.
  • Embedded video: Where appropriate to explain particular concepts.
  • Quizzes: At the end of each chapter.
  • Moodle?: Possibly use Moodle as an LMS.
photo by: wili_hybrid

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