In the last post of this series we discussed why varying your anchor text is so important. There are many benefits to varying your anchor text including, but not limited to: Avoiding a Google penalty, ranking your site/page for multiple terms, and just generally making everything seem more natural. Making your website natural in both appearance and readability is very important. I mean just think about it... would you really want to read this article if I stuffed it full of the same or similar keywords and/or it had a link in every sentence or even every third/fourth sentence? Absolutely not! You would think that my site was very spammy and hard to read wouldn't you? Well, Google feels the same way! In fact, Google has said repeatedly how much they dis-like SEO and we all know how much they frown upon webmasters that overuse it.
In my honest, heartfelt, opinion good SEO (in the eyes of Google) is more about site structure, site loading speed, and great content... great content that also links to other great content on the web. Meaning, "You should be writing/creating useful resources for your readers, not worrying so much about optimization techniques all the time!" You may be saying to yourself right now, "I don't really give a flyin' hoot what your opinion is Matt, truth is, if you ever wanna make any money in this business you better do this, this, and this <insert any of the various black-hat techniques here>! Well, ok, that's your opinion and your entitled to it, but just trust me on one thing (The 'Penguin Update' from Google really backs me up on this), honest, normal, useful, resourceful, and straight-forward content / linking strategies will ALWAYS win in the long run, period.
Ok, enough with my opinions, and on with the story...
Different Types of Anchor Text
In this post I would like to talk about all of the different types of anchor text that you can use when you are building your link campaigns and how they can be useful to both your rankings and your readers. Anchor text is an important signal for search engines that allows them to better understand what the linked page/website is about, but they can also be very helpful to humans in the very same way. If you think about if for a second, the words that you click on in a link can actually help you to understand what the page you are about to go to is all about. However, what else can help you understand what that page is gonna be about? Come on, think... That's right! The surrounding sentence or paragraph that the link was in! Consider the following examples:
- The <a href="http://some-site.com/fox-jumped-over-the-fence">quick, brown fox who jumped over the fence</a> (In this example, the anchor text tells you what the next page is about, and it tells you how to get there...)
- The quick, brown fox who jumped over the fence, and you can read more about it by <a href="http://some-site.com/fox-jumped-over-the-fence">clicking here</a> (In this example the sentence tells you what the next page is about, and "clicking here" tells you how to get there.)
See, if you will just take a walk down memory lane with me for a moment...Back when the internet was born, or back before Google and Yahoo even existed, the only way to get from one website to another was if there was a link (unless you already knew the web address and you typed it into your Netscape® browser). Consequently, "click here to go to Jane's website" quickly became the way we were able to "browse the internet"...we just clicked from link to link following from page-to-page and from site-to-site, but I digress...
As you can see from our examples above, both examples are perfectly good ways to link to the story about The quick, brown fox who jumped over the fence, and in the normal world of the internet both of these types of "natural anchor text" will exist. So, obviously this is the way that we need to build links to our sites when we are out there manually building our own links. Included below are some of the simple variations that you can use when you are building links to your site that will help you to keep from having a saturation of keyword stuffed anchor text in your links:
- Link to your homepage:
- <a href="some-site.com">some-site.com</a>
- <a href="some-site.com">www.some-site.com</a>
- <a href="some-site.com">partial-keyword</a>
- <a href="some-site.com">keyword</a>
- <a href="some-site.com">click here</a>
- <a href="some-site.com">keyword synonyms</a> -- This is a big one! VERY POWERFUL! Link directly to your inner pages sometimes:
- <a href="some-site.com/direct-link-to-your-post/">some-site.com</a>
- <a href="some-site.com/direct-link-to-your-post/">click here</a>
- <a href="some-site.com/direct-link-to-your-post/">keyword</a>
- etc., etc., ...
Beyond Anchor Text - Using Link Signals
Allot of webmasters today wonder, "Why shouldn't we just give up on link building?". No! Do NOT do that! Search engines collect a ton of data through links to our websites so that they can better understand our content, and humans still use links to get to your website, don't they?!?
Cyrus Shepard wrote an excellent post over at the Moz about "Beyond Exact Match Anchor Text" and where we go next...Everybody should watch the following video:
Did you notice how he was talking about on-page signals being very important now? That is exactly what I was talking about earlier in this post when I gave the example of The quick, brown fox who jumped over the fence. If you can't get the exact link text that you want, then your on-page signals need to be strong so that search engines and/or humans will know what that next page is going to be about (that's what really helps your story to flow anyway!). See, here we go again, back to the age-old adage that "Content is King", because it really, really is. Like I said at the beginning of this post: "Honest, normal, useful, resourceful, and straight-forward content / linking strategies will ALWAYS win in the long run, period". It really IS true folks! You simply must write compelling content that will actually help people if you ever want anyone to find your website via a search engine. Quite simply it is the most effective way to accomplish your mission!
P.S. I am looking forward to the next post in this series where we will talk more about on-page signals and the methods that are required to get the search engines to know what your site is about even when there aren't any links pointing to a particular page, and sometimes even when that page hasn't been optimized for that particular phrase! Yep, its some good stuff people, and its already happening on Google even as we speak. I look forward to getting this info out to you very soon!