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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How to Keep Your Link Profile Clean and Maximise Your Anchor Text

As a search engineer, there is nothing more demoralising than when a client's website drops in the SERPS, resulting in hours-worth of investigation as to why this has happened. With so many algorithm considerations it can be time-consuming to work out what has caused this drop and more importantly, how to fix it. However, there is one element of SEO which can be the major cause of a search engine drop and this is the anchor text penalty.

So how can you protect yourself from this pesky penalty and ensure that you won't be spending the next week trying to fix it?

This penalty, among other additions was actually a part of the Penguin update in order to target web spam and sites that, according to Google were "violating Google's guidelines". Unfortunately, there was an immediate outcry from many in the industry saying that they were unfairly affected and that they lost rankings because of the update. It's more likely that they were benefiting from "spammy" links which Google cut-off and which, in turn reduced the benefit to those sites. They were inadvertently affected but nevertheless, it's a lesson to never rely on second hand spam or low quality links. Or indeed low quality anchor text links…

One major change that did come with Penguin was the need to ensure variation across your linking profile. For a long time SEO has relied heavily on the backlink profile as the core ranking factor for Google and the importance of using long-tail phrases has never been more evident.

Backlink profiles make up a large percentage of Google's algorithm when scoring your website and they now have to be cleaner and more varied than before. There was a train of thought that you had to have exact match anchor text links pointing into your site, otherwise you wouldn't benefit the link half as much and you would lose out in the overall score of your ranking signals. However, this has changed and with the evolution of Google's algorithm, there is encouragement to diversify your linking profile.

Let's look at the primary considerations of what a backlink profile should consist of to appease the Penguin and how to detect any pre-existing issues:
  • Exact Match Links are still effective - They should still be used but try to approach this cautiously in relation to the number of links you build. Perhaps every 3 links could be an exact match anchor text link.
  • Use Long-tail - This is key to varying your link profile and is actually more effective for driving traffic in some cases. Long-tail phrases just help to spread the linking text out and give variation so that it doesn't look manipulative to Google. For instance, If the target word was SEO Leicester, you could vary it and use seo services leicester.
  • Generic phrases or URL links - This can sound as if you are ditching your key-phrase list but again this helps to spread out the linking across your profile. The relevance of a phrase which isn't necessarily being pushed within your campaign but has everything to do with the service or product you are promoting, can really help to diversify your backlinks.
  • A URL link can also really help traffic and although they are considered the lowest form of linking from an SEO point of view, it is actually helping to push your brand which is essentially what your online marketing is meant to achieve.
  • For detecting whether you have any harmful or excessive anchor text links you can perform a backlink check through the site explorer tools from SEO Moz or any other backlink checking tool. If you have too many in relation to other varied links such as long-tail or URL links, or even alternative key-phrases then you need to focus on the ones you may have a chance to edit.
  • For the most part if you have been able to get a link from someone through a personal outreach email or conversation then you may be able to request a slight wording change. However, if you have a bulk of links from directories and other low quality sources, don't expect to be able to fix those. Next time around, exclude this type of links from your campaign altogether!
So for your next SEO campaign set yourself the goal of creating a quality link profile that promotes a varied and useful range of keywords that will help make your SEO more natural and consistent.

Author Bio: Charlie works in the world of internet marketing, specialising in seo services in Leicester as well as researching new trends in the online and social marketing industry and servicing client's needs for a variety of industries.


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