The dust has settled but there still seems to be a lot of confusion on the best anchor text and link strategy to adopt after the recent flood of Google algorithm updates (namely the Penguin update). So I’m here to clarify how you should adjust your strategy. Before I begin let’s get one thing straight: as long as you’re actively engaging in link building for SEO, you will not have a natural looking link profile. Does this mean you need to wave the white flag and simply follow Google’s command to ignore SEO altogether? Absolutely not. You simply need two key ingredients.
The first ingredient is to shift your focus to adding value for the reader. Ask yourself “Does your anchor text or link add or detract from a webpage’s value?”
That’s the easy part. Now how can you achieve this while still generating quality backlinks to your website?
The second ingredient is……diversity.
Anchor Text Profile
With the current direction of these Google algorithm updates, 50% incoming targeted anchor text links is the maximum you should have. Most should be broad match, followed by phrase match and then exact match at 10-15%. If you really want a natural looking link profile, you need to aim for 60% non-targeted text links and 40% targeted text links.
You goal is to create diversity in your anchor text profile. If you’ve only been targeting exact match anchor text, mix it up with a LOT more branded keywords (your company name, product name), naked links (your website page URL – www.apexpacific.com, related keywords, broad match keywords with additional words (e.g best [broad match keyword] on the market) and generic keywords (click here, more information, contact us, homepage).
For more information, here is a great article by Adam Thompson you can read on his Anchor Text Optimization Case Study.
Anchor Link Profile
One of my readers, David, asked the following:
“I was planning to build new backlinks with primarily our brand name, and to a lesser degree naked anchor text (www.oursite.com) through posting comments on Commentluv enabled blogs across a range of PR’s, and other dofollow blogs. Is this considered a spammy tactic by Google?”
This is where diversity needs to come into play. With link building you can no longer focus on one plan of attack. In my reader’s case, dofollow blog commenting. Your link building campaign needs to target various sources that would naturally be linking to your website or you’ll end up receiving the same punishment as black hat SEO marketers.
Diversity of Websites and Webpages
A natural link profile would have a diverse range of incoming links from different types of websites to different pages on your website.
So first, diversify the webpages you link to. Rather than linking to your homepage, link to specific pages that are most appropriate.
Secondly, link from social networks, blog sites, forums, high PR sites, lower PR sites, small sites, larger sites, DoFollow sites and NoFollow sites (though your focus should be on larger, quality sites). This just helps create a more natural link profile. Remember, a natural link profile will contain more NoFollow backlinks. Going back to our reader question, a disproportionate large number of DoFollow blog comments looks very unnatural to the search engines. Go for NoFollow links to round out your backlink profile, particularly from social sites including Facebook and Twitter. They may not get you link juice, but they’re a great way to build links initially and encourage others to share your content.
Now Prompt People to Link to You
If you’ve put in the time and effort to create quality website content and in-depth articles solving your consumer’s problem, then you’re off to a good start. It’s discouraging if people aren’t linking to your website or content. Trust me I know all about this. But often it’s because they just aren’t aware of it.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to other appropriate websites who would naturally link to your site and notify them of your content. Remember, Google has made it clear it places more emphasis on links from related websites within your industry rather than unrelated sites. Asking the right people for the right reason often leads to much better results than the scattered approach that is used by many companies.
Guest posting is my star pupil. Though the golden child of white hat SEO would be ‘Content links.’ This is where you create and host great original content that encourages others to link to your content. There’s no concrete rule for creating these, though images, industry studies, case studies, statistics, infographics and funny internet memes seem to do well. You can get the ball rolling by reaching out to relevant websites to say ‘hi I’ve got this [ ] that I thought would be helpful/interesting for your readers.’
Other Link Building Methods
Now some of you may still be scratching your heads wondering what else you can do to create a diversified backlink profile that Google will be happy with. So here are some more strategies you can still use:
Reviews: Requesting local journalists, bloggers, reviewers or consumers with an engaged social network following in your industry to review your product by sending them free samples.
Blogrolls/Sidebars: Reaching out to a handful of related bloggers to include your website in their blogrolls/sidebars. I have enough faith that you’ll be able to determine if a blogger is worth gaining a link from.
Commenting: Only leave valuable comments and comment on NoFollow and DoFollow blogs. Do not use this excessively. You can go one step further by becoming a top commenter on a major industry website. For example, “SocialMediaExaminer,” a well known social media site, would be appropriate. Google values this kind of link a lot more than a whole bunch of links from low quality websites.
Resource Links: Find related industry websites with resource links that list resources similar to yours, contact the webmaster, and ask for a link. Try searching for “[keyword] resources.” Always provide a reason why your website would be a good fit for their list.
Link Exchanges With Quality, Related Sites: We’ve reached out to appropriate suppliers, resellers and even customers to request our website link be placed on their websites. You can go one step further & request they create a dedicated page on their site for your brand (with unique content of course) and offer to do the same. For customers with blogs you could ask them to write a short article on their experience with your brand.
Directories, Review Sites and Business Listings: Directories have been copping a lot of flak these days but please put away your pitchforks. I’m talking about quality directories that consumers actually use to help find your brand. Your goal with directory links should be to get your brand or company listed and not to get your keywords in anchor text. We have listed in relevant trade organizations, social media directories, government directories (e.g. local Chamber of Commerce), local offline and online directories and general business directories.
Local places: If you haven’t already, claim your search engine local place pages on Google Places, Bing Business Portal (BETA) and Yahoo! Local. This not only gives you some good quality backlinks, it also offers your listing a chance to appear for local searches.
So, if you are undertaking a link building strategy, make sure to avoid the types of links mentioned above so you can stay on the good side of search engine updates now and in the future. Building a more natural link profile is simply about spreading your links correctly across all of the various places that would link to your site naturally.
Siv Rauv is a Marketing Coordinator at SocialMotus, a social media platform developed
to offer business owners and agencies affordable, in-depth management and analytics social media tools. If you liked her article, you can read more of her work at: http://www.apexpacific.com/blog.