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I normally hate "Things I will do differently in 2013" type posts.

However, I feel that a lot of SEOs may benefit from my thinking on link building / Anchor text strategy for the year, in particular due to both Panda and Penguin.

As a result here are my quick tips on anchor text links for 2013:

1. No Anchors to the home page

Both Panda and Penguin are penalties that can really mess up a site, there are ways to recover, one of which is 404 the hit pages. If you over do anchors to home, you can’t easily get out of it.

If you have overdone anchor links to a home page, you want to start tipping the balance in favour of the brand.

2. No hard Anchors

Basically try and not use Exact Match KW anchors. Penguin seems to target these a lot. And are a glaring signal. I aim to use a mixture of Long Tail Link Building and blended anchor links.

Blended anchors is a term I created to reflect anchors that are mixed in with common terms such as “we, us, you, and,” etc.

So for example, for “Car Insurance” the anchor would be: Sentence: “When you are young and drive a car, your insurance would be high” Anchor: “drive a car, your insurance”.

3. Branded links to deep content

In order to mix up your signals, try and get branded or brand+anchors into deep content. The more natural the anchor looks, the less riskier it is.

4. No anchors on fresh content

In some instances, especially with new sites / pages / content, I am going to try and get no anchors, and go more for “Click Here” “see the site” “more information”.

Theoretically these links may not help rank for the target, but will strengthen the site. One test I ran, I used this strategy on a new affiliate site – threw up 10-15 links with those types of anchors - the site got onto page two, and stayed there.

I then acquired ONE exact match anchor from a good source. It popped the site to the first page and still sits there.

5. Keeping an eye on Exact match anchors vs non KW anchors

If I have built high volume exact match anchors in the past, am working hard to get in a whole mix of non KW anchors to sway the percentage mix.

Hide the target. Protect the target.

6. Guest Posting

I am pretty sure that Google will target guest posting soon. As a result, am staying away from "author signature" / profile links at the end of the post as link building tactics.

If it isn’t in the main body, I don’t want it. Dont get me wrong, these are essential for authors to have, who want  to build their profiles up, but from an SEO point of view, their life is now limited due to over abuse.

7. Context

If a site doesn’t meet my target's context, I am going to try and stay away from it, or blend the link to fit the context.

So say there is a blog about arts and crafts. A link to car insurance from this site is a no no. On the other hand, link to a retail site, eg fashion, might just fit in “I got this idea when I looked at maxi dresses at ASOS” (where the link is “maxi dresses at ASOS”).


I hope the above thoughts are useful, most of them are built around micro experiments, speaking to people hurt in the last few rounds of penalties, and a lot from simply observation and personal experience.

Image credit: ellbrown via Flickr

Rishi Lakhani

Published 16 January, 2013 by Rishi Lakhani

Rishi Lakhani is a Freelance SEO Consultant who occasionally blogs at Explicitly.Me. He spends a lot of time on Twitter (rishil) and a little on Google Plus. 

1 more post from this author

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Michael Charalambous

This is an excellent, to the point, no nonsense no-time-wasting-reading piece. Love it.

However, #6. Are you not doing that right now? In this post, very clearly linking back to yourself? Or does it not count as the "link" you wanted is the one in #2?

Please elaborate :)

almost 4 years ago

John Callaghan

John Callaghan, Digital Marketing Consultant at CTI Digital

" As a result, am staying away from "author signature" / profile links at the end of the post as link building tactics."

On a guest post with author signature profile links at the end of the post. Made me chuckle.

I think it's worth differentiating between poorly placed, low quality, SEO company written guest posts and guest posts written by an authority on the subject, published on a relevant and authoritative website. Like this one.

almost 4 years ago

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Rishi lakhani

Note the comment on the post:

"Dont get me wrong, these are essential for authors to have, who want to build their profiles up, but from an SEO point of view, their life is now limited due to over abuse."

From a personal point of view, those links are for building profile and branding as a writer.

almost 4 years ago

Steve Morgan

Steve Morgan, Freelance SEO Consultant at Morgan Online Marketing

Great advice, Rishi.

I'd also emphasise how important prior analysis can be. When people hear the word "penalty," they'll panic, potentially follow the herd and may be doing non-exact match anchor text when they really don't have to:

- If a site is new, you should be careful not to overdo it (make sure there's a good balance).
- If a site is old and has a lot of exact match anchors, obviously go the other way.
- However (and this is sometimes overlooked), if a site has a lot of natural anchors already (e.g. a lot of links but not via SEO-driven link building work previously) then you don't have to rule out exact match anchor text - in fact a little bit might make a massive difference in giving Google some 'steer' about what the pages are about.

Also, for #2, while I like your example, don't forget the UX/CTR side of things. While "drive a car, your insurance" diversifies the anchor text profile, it might put people off clicking. Rewording the sentence or adding a bit at the end might be another alternative (e.g. if the latter approach, maybe something like: "Find out more about our car insurance").

almost 4 years ago

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Nick Stamoulis

I don't think there is anything wrong with going after links in the author bio, especially since that's all some sites will let you have, provided you change it up every time. For instance, I might have a list of 50+ keywords that I will pull randomly from to use as anchor text in my author bios. That why I keep it varied and natural looking.

almost 4 years ago

John Callaghan

John Callaghan, Digital Marketing Consultant at CTI Digital

Apologies, I should probably have omitted the first part of the comment, it did make me chuckle, but only until I read the following line.

If domain authority and relevancy + author authority and relevancy > domain authority and relevancy, then guest posting will become an even more valuable SEO tactic for brands/people doing it right.

almost 4 years ago

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith, Director at eschermanSmall Business

Interesting piece. Perhaps you can explain something that has intrigued me recently. If I search on the phrase "SEO agency" on Google.co.uk, than one of the top pages is for a firm that "guarantees Page 1 on Google".

If I use MajesticSEO to look at the anchor text they are using, sure enough - mega amounts of Exact Match Keyword anchors on "SEO agency". And if I look at the backlinks themselves, they are coming from places like adult entertainment sites or from obviously fake blogs with spun articles that no human being would pay any attention to. Certainly not "contextual" as I would understand it.

Based on what you are saying above (and what most people have been saying for yonks about Penguin and Panda), how can this be? How can such an obviously manipulated page evade Google?

Just curious.

almost 4 years ago

Rishi Lakhani

Rishi Lakhani, Search Strategist at Independent Consultant

@Andrew Smith - we call these Brute Force Rankings - you can see a post I wrote about similart high volume, high authority site (albeit these were hacked sites) http://explicitly.me/what-we-learnt-from-a-pills-link-hacker

Does it work? Yes.
Is it advisable? No.

Another of these sites gets its anchors from the footers of its clients. Again, we have advised in the past that this strategy isnt great. Yet people do it, and they rank.

My advice is about staying a step ahead, not just doing what works "now"...

almost 4 years ago

Rishi Lakhani

Rishi Lakhani, Search Strategist at Independent Consultant

@Andrew Smith
run the same analysis for all the sites on that result, you will see some very different, and interesting anchor based factors at play.

In particular look at sites that offer the same gurantee, rank for that SERP, and yet their anchor text is a lot more diverse...

almost 4 years ago

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Rob Barham

@Andrew Smith - That's obviously competitors trying to get them banned by buying them low quality, no context, anchor text links. Alledgedly.

almost 4 years ago

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith, Director at eschermanSmall Business

@rishi Thanks - that's helpful. Given all that Google has been saying and doing over the last 12 months, I guess I was surprised that what appeared to be such obvious tricks still seemed to work - but they won't much longer presumably.

I'm with you 100pc on sustainable tactics rather than things that bring a quick win, but with more pain down the track.

On a completely different topic, what do you think of MajesticSEO's Citation Flow and Trust Flow as metrics?

almost 4 years ago

Rishi Lakhani

Rishi Lakhani, Search Strategist at Independent Consultant

@Andrew Smith - to be honest I havent looked into them deep enough. Its on my to do list. however Majestic is my preferred tool.

almost 4 years ago

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith, Director at eschermanSmall Business

@Rob But these guys are claiming to guarantee their clients page 1 Google SERP (bit like PR people guaranteeing press coverage). If they were such SEO wizards, wouldn't they have noticed this tactic already?

almost 4 years ago

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Duncan Colman

@Rishi Lakhani - good post, a hot topic area.

Could there be more movement in SERPs this year in comparison to 2012 purely due to Penguin's growing sensitivity to anchor text?

almost 4 years ago

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Gary Collins

@Andrew Smith I agree with Rishi. A lot of sites force the rankings because Google still ranks websites based largely on the number, quality and volume of inbound links, this hasn't changed for years. SEO's make a lot of assumptions that Google is ranking websites based on things like the % of anchor texts, author rank, number of Tweets and where on the page a link appears but I'm not convinced. What I can say is that I wouldn't use the "SEO agency" you mentioned in your post - they sound well dodgy!

almost 4 years ago

Rishi Lakhani

Rishi Lakhani, Search Strategist at Independent Consultant

@Duncan Colman I cant guarantee it. But there are some interesting shifts occurring - and many of them began even before Penguin cam about.

I and a bunch of other SEOs have been insisting on high percentage mix of Brand in anchors for a while now (Early 2011!)

almost 4 years ago

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith, Director at eschermanSmall Business

@rishi Yes. MajesticSEO is v, good.

almost 4 years ago

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Duncan Colman

@Rishi Lakhani for me there still seems to be excessive amounts of highly ranking sites with ongoing spam tactics. Perhaps it will take Google too long to sort out their SERPs quality and this creates the opportunity for Bing or another to take market share in the UK.

almost 4 years ago

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Bolocan Cristian

I don't think there is anything wrong with going after links in the author bio, especially since that's all some sites will let you have, provided you change it up every time. For instance, I might have a list of 50+ keywords that I will pull randomly from to use as anchor text in my author bios. That why I keep it varied and natural looking.

almost 4 years ago

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Kerry Jones

Hi Rishi, good post, really helpful, interesting point about you not wanting author/bio links, only links in the main body or the content. I can see where you're coming from, this has inspired me to do things a bit differently, for the better :) thanks!

almost 4 years ago

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Paul Coulter

My rule of thumb is 80%+ branded anchors for the home page, but for deep links, the anchor should closely match the page's title tag. That's what would be most natural.

almost 4 years ago

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mangalashtak

hi i am new to seo basically i do it only for my website 15 days before on my website title bar there are 4 keywords, for first keyword my website rank 9 position on google and second keyword my website rank 13 position on google search but when i change first keyword to second and second to first both keyword ranks 300+ on google search why this happen i am confuse

almost 4 years ago

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Luke

I freak out when I click a link that anchored with the keyword that is totally different with result page. I think when you do not find what you are expecting this make you think negative about that liked site.

almost 4 years ago

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VxsgaBBcQs

http://technologiesuae.com/#8339 risperidone xanax drug interactions - 1mg xanax vs 1mg ativan

over 3 years ago

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Mayhem

Rishi,

I've been making an attempt to contact you, do you have a direct contact? Send me a line please...., I am looking for a SEO super genius, I was told you were the man.

over 3 years ago

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Mayhem

Boom!

over 3 years ago

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Kory Cheshier, Web Design & Development at HireAWiz

I also don’t pay much attention tips for 2013 but I am glad I took the time to read this article there were some very helpful tips.

over 3 years ago

Nathan Whitaker

Nathan Whitaker, SEO Wizard at eMagic Limited

Great tips and approach to safer link building. Relevancy and quality links are definitely the key to success. Since Penguin is a penalty at the page level tip number one is really worth taking note of.

over 3 years ago

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