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Or, how to make sure your website doesn't
get squashed by a Panda......
Google has been cruel this year so far. A lot of websites suffered ranking drop this Year. SEO
consultants & companies have been quite busy solving the new algorithm puzzles set forth by
Google. You will find a lot of discussions on net on all what’s happening and how to cope with the
changes Google is making this year – and a lot that we are anticipating soon after Google
announces change in how it indexes sites and how searches are going to be affected going forward.
Running an SEO company has become more pain than fun as it used to be in the past. Here is some
quick feedback, evaluation of the situation and my suggestions on what happened this Feb and how
to get along with these changes to my all SEO colleagues, webmasters and e-marketing executives.
On the brighter side, things have changed towards betterment if you are fond of ethical link building
and give proper consideration to your on-page stuff prior to starting an aggressive link building
campaign. Last year Google Panda was active finding low quality or duplicate content and this year
Panda is cracking on low-quality, unnatural links. As a matter of fact, nothing changed as regards to
an SEO strategy; it’s only that usual ways of doing SEO will not work anymore. I say “think
human, think Google” I stress the need of this in order of
Developing a site’s popularity as naturally as possible keeping in mind the human users of your site
and NOT the search engines. I believe that stays the best strategy for this year as well.
Basic Steps And Overview
With all Google updates (Panda, Web spam, Penguin), algorithm roll outs and changes, search
results are not the same and so is ranking. SEO has changed altogether in the last couple of months.
Google has been quality conscious since its start, and that explains why it grabbed over 70% of the
market share shortly after its launch, however recent changes are far more than “quality user
experience” as Google claims. There must be some political, financial or socioeconomic factors that
a simple user might not imagine, but technically speaking, the most recent Penguin changes harmed
more that it fixed the “so called” quality of search as it has been evident after many comparisons
you can find on different blogs/forums. I have also did extensive comparisons and research for my
clients in different niche, ran several reports to see the authority or the quality of current ranking
sites and most of the results I found were of poor quality.
Having said that, this post is not explaining the recent Google changes or the Penguin update, but
here I will discuss more in general the future of SEO and how the future SEO is going to be done
and whether or not SEO still exists?
SEO is Dead vs SEO is not Dead!
You will read this in many posts/forums that SEO is dead. From my personal view point, SEO is
dead for those who were mainly relying on standard SEO process that includes, keyword rich
content and URL, related METAs, keyword stuffing and placement, and then building link to
appropriate anchor text for each URL on high PR blogs, or paid sites to raise ranking. This is not
going to work anymore, and SEO is really dead for such a process.
SEO is not dead, if you still believe in quality sites, better user experience and natural flow to your
websites in its content, URL structure, METAs and how you link to your site. Starting April 25,
with the recent Penguin update, Google is primarily looking at site authority and page authority and
accordingly benefit in SERP. Going forward, it won’t make much sense to optimize a single
keywords or keywords for that matter. Going forward, it will matter how strong your page is that
you are trying to rank for a given set of keywords.
Future of SEO:
Even though Matt Cutts says we would encourage only white hat SEO or even no SEO, I wonder
how those million dollar sites will rank at first place? How are those sites going to sit and hold on
ranking solely on the mercy of Google to get there expenses met? So the point is that the white hat
SEO has to exist, but it has to be done more discreetly, naturally and slowly without focusing on
keywords and much longer wait time for a page to increase in ranking, having a little control over
SEO SERP.
No doubt, SEO has to stay, but not in the same form it used to be in the past several years. Now the
job of an SEO consultant or company has become more tactful than ever. Job of SEO is now to
improve your site authority based on how unique and interesting content it has, how little emphasis
has been done on pinpointing keywords for search engines, how strong social signals it gets, and
which authority sites are linking to it using the site URL, and not the anchor text. These linking
sites, must be of the same niche and must have an apparent natural interest in linking back to your
site (genuine press release with a link back to your new product page www.example.com/product-y
is a good example)
If you are an SEO company or your sites are mainly depending on organic traffic and you need your
site to be in good books of Google, here is a list of future SEO steps that you need to take to make
sure, nothing shakes your site even with another one hundred Google roll outs during the course of
coming years.
•
Start with a fresh new domain or site name if you can, to make sure that you know you are
doing it right from the start.
•
If you are engaged (or married) to your old site, then remove all the old links you had on it
(as much as you can), make it off-line, change DNS, IP/hosting, a new design, URL
structure with fresh content based on above recommendations or Google quality guidelines
and make a fresh start.
•
Make a structure of the site that is logical, and as you would want this structure to be like for
your visitors/users if search engines didn’t exist. Use WordPress example, make categories,
subcategories to put your products/service under proper URL. Make your homepage
targeting general services you provide in your niche.
•
Create a blog and write thoughtful, researched articles on it at least twice a week. Link these
articles to your social media and tweet them so you get social signals to your valuable
content, that’s one important thing to raise your immunity against web-spam curse.
•
Each page (or URL) on your site must be very specific to one of the products or services or
a category. If you are selling used phones, then make a category for each brand and then
subcategory for each version/model of it. The MOST important thing here to remember is
that don’t mix several keywords in different URLs or you will never rank in this new
changing Google search algo. This is what Google calls poor quality or repeated content.
•
Have a strong presence in social networks and engage users to get back to your site through
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube etc. Write valuable articles in your blog and post
excerpts on your social network and link to URL on your site for “read more”, this is a good
way of increasing your site and content authority and let people spend more time on your
site.
•
Do a monthly genuine press release about anything that you have started or accomplished in
your business and get a legitimate link back to your site (using URL not the anchor text)
•
Submit your site do different niche directories using URL, the directories that have visitors
and not the SEO optimized directories just to get a link back. Find local business directories
to spread word about your services.
•
Don’t worry about PR of the page you get link to, do worry about the relativity of the site
that links to you. High PR still has effect on your site authority but the old myth of having
lot of high PR links getting you higher in SERP doesn’t work anymore. Two top ranking
sites in financial industry in Google UK have only 2 backlinks and zero PR.
•
Do research, a lot of research, to find sites that relate to your niche and request a link back
using a guest blog or partnership. Make majority of your links using your URL (home or
subpages) and not the anchor texts. I would suggest 70% at least. Google will determine the
keywords through your content and META to promote them once your page gets authority,
that’s why it makes sense to keep each page very specific to a single keyword or a group of
similar keywords.
•
Create some genuine profile links, genuine means that fill in all the data in the profile link,
and update it weekly with any fresh news from your site and link these profiles to your site
and social media, make it more social by linking to other similar profiles.
•
Don’t over optimize your content, or METAs. 3-5% of keyword density rule doesn’t work
anymore. See how naturally you can keep your keywords as you write. Try not to write a lot
of content on your homepage rather make it to the point as an introduction to your services
and site, give details in subpages.
•
Try putting any industry seals, certificates, badges, buttons etc. that can produce authority to
your site. Creating an SSL certificate to make it a trustworthy site is a great idea as well. Get
memberships in your industry and mention it on your homepage.
•
Avoid any sort of paid links, link schemes, or links to any sites that are not quality sites
based on new Google algorithm, means they are not providing user experience, rather they
are there to give links back to one who wants them, this includes blog networks etc. etc.
•
Check for Alexa ranking of the sites you link to, to make sure they have reasonable visits
and just not high PR websites to get a backlink.
•
Don’t link to any site that you are not 100% sure even if you are offered a free link and even
if it’s a high PR site.
•
Make announcements on your homepage every now and then for any updates in your
business, just don’t leave it as a static page.
•
Participate in active forums and blogs (commenting) for a long-term strategy. Become
authority members or old members in those forums/blogs and give your genuine, authentic
opinion of the post, having a link to your URL after getting a good place in such forums will
help your site greatly. Try posting at least 10 authority comments in each forum or blog to
start with to get confidence of the forum owner.
•
Research for blogs in your niche and offer them high quality researched content as guest
blog, even against a fee. That should be considered contextual link and should give your site
good authority.
•
Monitor your ranking regularly and see the behaviour of Google or other search engines and
tweak your strategy based on that regularly.
•
Don’t worry about number of links, just the quality, relevancy and frequency. Increase
backlinks frequency gradually and maintain it month after month so it doesn’t sound
unnatural to Google. Having 100 links in May and zero links in June can raise “doubts” in
search engines.
•
Protect your site from outside attacks, hacks and unauthorized access and links. Keep a track
of all your links and monitor for any unnatural links that you didn’t create to make sure no
one is using negative SEO as a tool to tank your site. There are plenty of tools that can give
you timely reporting on who is linking to you.
On-Page SEO:
On-page is your winning horse this year, more than ever. Have a thorough review of your site
again, check for duplicate content through Copyscape or copying pasting in Google with
quotation mark. If you find someone already scrapped your content, go ahead and make
necessary changes to keep the theme with different wording. This is lot easier than going after
website for removal of your original content in my opinion.
With the latest Penguin update the SEO that needs to be done has changed a little and some things
are more important then other. Before the Penguin update it was more easy to rank high only with
the help of anchor text and with the help of some blog networks, after the update the things are not
the same and some facts has changed in the SEO optimization world.
In this article I would like to put some of the things that need to be done after this Google Penguin
update in order to also to do good SEO and rank high in SERP.
On Page SEO Optimization
From the things that I have noticed On Page SEO hasn’t change to much after Penguin
update, although you have to be very careful now with the content and the the things that you do on
your site because now Google is changing the ranking algorithm from anchor text relevance to
content relevance. Below is a list with the best practices that you can do in order to be well with the
Penguin:
Title and Description
The title and description has to refer the content that is on your page or site, also it has to be written
for the people and not search engines. Don’t try to stuff a lot of keywords in your title
and description as it was done before and just let your writhing flow and be as much relevant as it
can to the content.
Duplicate Content
As of always the problem of duplicate content hasn’t changed, if you want your site to be optimized
for SEO in the best way you need to be careful with this aspect.
Optimized Content
The content needs to be optimized for SEO as best as possible because as I have tolled you Google
will use the content to rank your site or page. You have to be careful to not do keyword stuffing and
the content to be original. The content has to be written for people but also needs to be structure as
best as possible for SEO,
Intelligent Site Structure for better SEO
You have to have a well structured site not only for SEO but also for the best user experience.
Below is an example with an image
Powerful Internal Linking Structure
The internal link structure is still very important for SEO and for your visitors, Google will not
categorize this as over optimization if you are doing right. Here is a little more information about
how your internal link structure should be
The following are best 10 practices for linking the pages of your site together:
1. Use text-based links if possible and use the proper link structure.
2. Use keywords in your link text for every link.
Part of the ranking algorithm includes checking the text of a link against text on the linked-to page.
Use your keywords in link text.
Don’t use “Click here” or “Home” as the text of a link, as these are not relevant.
3. Link from your home (or sitemap) page to every other page on your site.
If your Web site is relatively small (less than 10 pages or so), your home page can effectively
function as your sitemap page. If you have a larger site, this becomes unwieldy and you then need a
separate sitemap page. Add some content to your sitemap page – it should not consist of just links.
A sitemap page functions as an “index” to your site and is invaluable for the following reasons:
• Helps Google find and crawl other pages on your site quickly
• Helps your customers find what they need quickly
• Helps distribute your site’s PageRank to other important pages
Tip: Because your home page likely has the highest PageRank in your site, you should NOT put
any outgoing links on this page. Ideally, the only page you should have outgoing links on is your
Related Links page. This will minimize the small amount of PageRank “leakage” from that page.
This concept will be discussed later.
4. Link from every “non-relevant” page back to your home page ONLY.
Non-relevant pages are defined here as those pages that are not keyword-rich and do not likely
contain the information that a visitor to your site is looking for while searching on Google. You do
not want these pages to receive as much PageRank as your more important pages. Examples of nonrelevant pages that should ONLY link back to the Home page include the following:
• “Copyright” page
• “Privacy Policy” Page
• “Disclaimers” Page
• “About Us” page
• “Contact Us” page
• Order form, shopping cart pages
• “Link to Us” page
• “Testimonials” page
This helps return and concentrate PageRank back to your Home page. Remember, you want to
maximize PageRank for your most important pages.
5. Link from your “Related Links” page to every other page on your site.
This page contains outgoing links that point to other websites and will “leak” PageRank from this
page (but not from any other pages). Since PageRank “voting power” is shared evenly among all
links on a page, having many links that point back to your own page will minimize this effect.
As a rule of thumb, try to keep all links going to other sites on a single page – your “Related Links”
page. (If you have more than 100 links on a page, consider splitting them up into multiple pages).
6. Link ONLY between pages that are related by keyword.
This helps distribute PageRank among pages that are related by keyword phrase. These pages are
likely important to your customers, which means you should concentrate PageRank on these. These
pages should also contain a link back to the Home page.
7. Ensure every page links to at least one other page
.
This will help Google crawl your site faster and help your customers navigate through your site
better. Pages with a link to them but without a link on them are called orphan pages.
8. Use Absolute URLs to Link to Your Home Page
When linking back to your home page from other pages on your site, always use the absolute URL
instead of a relative URL or file path. For example, always use:
http://www.yourdomain.com (note the www)
instead of:
index.html (or whatever the file name of your Home page is) or
http://www.yourdomain.com/index.html
to link back to your Home page. I would also use absolute URLs for any subdomain, subdirectory
and other main “category” pages you might have on your site. Google has had problems assigning
an accurate PageRank value to a page if it uses inconsistent or differing link URL forms to it.
9. Use “Bread Crumb” Link Navigation
Effective link navigation between your pages can provide keyword-rich internal links and assist
your visitors in determining exactly where they are on your site. A popular technique called “bread
crumbs” can be used for this. For example, if this book were in HTML format on the Web, I could
insert a series of links at the top of each page.
For this particular page, the bread crumb links would be:
Optimizing Your Website > Linking Your Pages Correctly > Best Practices For Internal Linking
Note how this can increase both content and provide keyword-rich links.
10. Use the “NOFOLLOW” Attribute Link
The rel=”NOFOLLOW” attribute in a link has been used on blog and forum sites to block the
Google spider from following a link to its target page, and hence blocking the passing of PageRank.
This is in an effort to reduce link spamming.
You can use the NOFOLLOW attribute to your advantage on your site to channel PageRank to your
most important pages. Here’s the syntax:
<A HREF=”yourpageURL” rel=”NOFOLLOW”>
Frequent Updates
Update your site as often as you can in order to get a boost in SERP. Google itself announced that
likes more the sites that have the content updated more often.
This is the best tips that I know that can help your On Page SEO optimization.
Of Page SEO Optimization
This is what changes the most with this Google Panda update, now Google takes a more closer look
on the links that you are pointing to your site. This is the over optimization penalty that Matt Cutts
is talking about, below are some key aspect that you need to take into consideration when you are
doing link building:
Anchor Text Variation
Before the Panda update the majority of the anchor text that was used when building links was the
keyword that needs to rank. With this update Google targeted this kind of sites, now you have to
diversify more on the anchor text for the keywords that you are trying to rank. Use something like
this ( no one tested id but they are saying it): keyword 20%, direct link 30% and the rest with
keywords like: here, this site, etc.
Diversification of the Links
Try to build links from more sources and that looks more natural, my advice is to not
use spam software’s or premium blog networks because they are dead. Try to build links with
comments, bookmarking, social media, forum posts, press releases, wikis, web 2.0 or guest posts.
Link Relevancy
This is something that all SEO Experts are saying but from my point of view this only adds an extra
to the link. Of course is better to link to the relevant sites but sometimes is not that easy. Anyway
try to build as much relevant links as you can and if you can’t don’t give a lot of thoughts to this
Keyword Stuffing:
The old methodology of 3-5% of your main keywords stuffing will not work. You need to
concentrate on writing for users and wherever your keywords come naturally put them as
you go. Believe me, even if your keyword density goes down to 1% but it’s natural, it’s
going to be much more effective than a 5% density that “looks” written for search engines.
Keyword stuffing, or the practice of shoving as many keywords onto a page as physical possible,
has long been the bane of SEO white hats everywhere.
There was a time when the method of stuffing worked as well on a webpage as it does in a turkey.
Back in the early years of search engines, one could easily manipulate a page’s ranking on Google’s
SERP with keyword stuffing.
Sites could rank on a large variety of keywords by simply cluttering them onto a page, even if the
keywords were unrelated and the site was absent of any real content.
You could be (somewhat) classy about it by hiding the offending keywords, matching their text
colour to the background colour, or you could just be blatantly obnoxious.
Naturally this led to a terrible user experience, because most people aren’t looking to find a site that
just reads “discount bike tires” repeated 500 times. Google and other search engines wised up and
began filtering out offending keyword-stuffed pages, because these pages were largely devoid of
useful content.
The Dangers of Keyword Stuffing and Over-Optimizing
Keyword stuffing is now considered a strictly black-hat tactic.
Does keyword stuffing work? It depends on who you ask. It does tend to have some positive shortterm effects, but it’s playing with fire and rarely is beneficial in the long run. Google will penalize
your site if they catch you stuffing the keyword turkey. Your page could be demoted in rankings, or
even removed all together!
Google’s own matt cuts warned webmasters about SEO keyword stuffing and over optimization at
SXSW last week, saying:
"We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better
word, over optimization or overly SEO – versus those making great content and a great site.
We are trying to make Google Bot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also
looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many
links or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team
working on this right now."
In other words, Google keyword stuffing is a dangerous game, and isn’t likely to get more safe
anytime soon.
Google dislikes black hat tactics like SEO keyword stuffing because those methods focus on
beating the search engine algorithm rather than a great user experience.
Look at the keyword stuffing example below:
Are you looking to make money online? If you’re looking for make money online, look no
further. Our make money online website is the best place to order your new make money
online. Feel free to check out our selection of make money online from our make money
online selection below.
Pretty unattractive, right? That’s not even the worst keyword stuffing out there.
The silly thing is, even if you somehow end up on the first page for “cheap running shoes,” no
searcher who clicks on to your site will want to stay there. It naturally repels people, like dog poop
left out in the sun. No one is going to see that mess and think “Wow, these people really care about
me and my need for cheap running shoes.” Instead they will feel disgusted, used, and itching to get
out of there.
Keyword Stuffing vs. Responsible Keyword Optimization
It’s essential to differentiate keyword stuffing from general keyword usage. It’s still really
important to use your keyword in your content, so don’t let all this Google will eat your brains and
destroy your home if you do keyword stuffing talk frighten you away from responsible keyword
insertion.
Like so many things in life, keywords need to be used in moderation. Some other things that rely
heavily on moderation:
•
Cookie dough: A little bit is like an everlasting gobstopper, too much makes you feel sick. (And
could even kill you. Salmonella poisoning anyone?)
•
Sunshine: Vitamin D or 3rd degree burn victim? You decide.
Simply focus less on the robot-crawling-spider-bots and focus more on people. You know, the ones
who will actually be looking at your site. Create information-rich content that uses keywords
appropriately and in the proper, well-to-do fashion. Would Downtown Abbey’s Dowager Countess
keyword stuff? Not likely. It's simply not done in proper society.
How to Insert Keywords Safely: Walking the Fine Line
So how do you use keyword responsibly?
Some say there is no magic number. Others say there is a magic number: 2-5% keyword density is
considered safe by most.
Instead of using the same keyword a hundred and one times, try using some long-tail keyword
variations to spice things up a bit in your content. Seobook has a handy SEO toolbar that can help
you generate long-tail variations and keep track of how many keywords you’ve inserted to hit that
keyword density sweet spot.
Another tip is to try implementing synonyms (various words with the same meaning). Search
engines recognize that words like “bat” are homonyms; they are words that have multiple meanings.
Google prides itself on relevancy, so they want to be able to differentiate someone searching for a
baseball “bat” vs. a flying vampire “bat.” For this reason, there's a database index of Google
synonyms to help it differentiate between word meanings. Google knows that if a site is talking
about “clubs” and “bats,” they are probably talking about sports equipment and not flying
mammals.
Because synonyms help Google stay relevant, they tend to reward sites that implement them.
Having a variety of related words also means that your site is more likely to have crafted content of
real value rather than meaningless drivel meant to trick search engines, which gives Google another
reason to add weight to synonyms.
METAS:
Make sure your META title and description are well written, and while reading it makes a
complete sentence or proper sense instead of a keyword stuffed sentence.
It might have happened when Google rolled out the penguin update on April 24th. However, I am
pretty sure that I noticed the shift in the way that Google deals with meta tags a while before that.
Still, Google’s crackdown on over optimization and web spam has caused most SEO’s (myself
included) to look at almost every area of our strategy. Along those lines, I recently dug into the
way that our site was writing our title and description meta tags. I looked at sites that were ranking
above and below us and at the way that those sites were writing their tags and at the way that their
search engine results were being displayed. Here are some of the things that I discovered…
•
Branding vs. Non Branding: It is no secret that with both Penguin and Panda that Google
has been shifting emphasis to large trusted brands. One of the first things that jumped out to
me in my research was that sites like Office Depot, Amazon, Staples and Office Max had
taken over spots in the SERP’s that previously belonged to either myself or my competitors.
That being said I noticed that their title tags were simple, to the point and almost always
contained their brand. In the past I had always heard the advice that you should leave the
brand out of your title tags since it is so easy for you to rank for your own name. However,
with Google’s recent emphasis on brand strength and crackdown on over optimization I
have been working on starting to include my brand in our title tags again.
•
Shorter and Simpler: Another observation that I made when looking at the title tags of the
sites that were ranking the best was that shorter and simpler titles seemed to be outranking
longer more keyword stuffed versions. Not to mention that the shorter versions in most
cases provided a more clear description of what the page was about than the longer versions
that had multiple keywords separated with hyphens, dashes or pipes.
•
Singular vs. Plural: In the past I would often try to fit both the singular and the plural
version of a keyword into the title of the page. This often involved using dashes, hyphens
and some creativity to make both words fit without seeming completely awkward.
However, when digging into the SERP’s for most of the my major keywords I discovered
that with Google it no longer really mattered whether you had the singular or plural version
of the keyword in the title tag. Instead if the page was relevant and the brand was strong the
singular or plural version would still rank.
•
Meta Keywords (goodbye): Although I have known for a long time that Google or
Bing doesn’t use meta keywords as a ranking factor. The Penguin update finally caused me
to go and remove all the keyword tags from the pages on my site. Why? With an emphasis
on over optimization and keyword stuffing, the possibility that keyword tags can hurt you
actually increased. Something this simple isn’t worth taking the risk on.
•
Meta Description Length: Looking back at the length of the Meta descriptions that I was
writing for our site, I realize that I had really overdone things on some of my pages. In
some cases, the meta description was more like a paragraph. One of the things that I noticed
was that in these cases Google was just ignoring my Meta description anyway and finding
something more relevant from the page to include in the search result. The result was that I
decided to write shorter 2-3 sentence max meta descriptions with a stronger call to action.
After noticing all of these things I started on the process of re-writing the title and description tags
for all of my category and subcategory pages on my site (a good place to start). Within days I
started to see a slight uptick in my search engine traffic from Google. More than likely this was
caused by an increase click through rate on the organic search results that I already had. That
brings me to my last point. Don’t forget that you aren’t just optimization your title’s and
descriptions for rankings, you are also trying to optimize for clicks (which ultimately help your
rankings).
Keywords Per Page:
Try ranking each page for not more than 3 keywords and ideally only one keyword and its
derivatives for each landing page. Google is cracking more on homepage than inner pages,
reason being most of the link building and SEO effort is being done on homepages, so to
avoid coming under Google radar, try most of your SEO effort on inner pages and only your
branding effort and a couple of top keywords for your homepage, it will save you a lot even
if you get in trouble with Google for homepage, you will still be generating good traffic if
you are ranking 80% of your keywords on other landing pages.
Anchor Text Variation:
Google is penalizing sites which are getting backlinks using identical anchor text. It looks
quite unnatural that 100 of sites linking to you are linking through the same anchor text,
doesn’t it? So, make anchor text variations properly. If you are following my advice in #4
and using minimum keywords on each page, variation will be much easier without affecting
your link juice. If you are targeting a lot of similar keywords on different pages, anchor
variation will actually spoil your each page strength and you will start seeing Google giving
results to the URL different than what you were doing SEO to. Never exceed your anchor
text links more than 40% of the whole linking profile. Use your URL as your anchor text,
Greek anchors like click here, this site etc. More Info:
In light of this new update, there has been a lot of buzz about anchor text and how it can positively
or negatively affect your SEO campaign depending on how it is utilized. If you're not aware of how
to properly use anchor text in your link building efforts, you could be unknowingly setting yourself
up for a Google penalty.
Here's a quick guide to help you understand what anchor text is, why it is important for SEO, how it
has been overused, and how you should be using it in your link building campaign in order to future
Google penalties.
What is Anchor Text, Anyway?
Whether you know it by its specific term or not, you interact with anchor text every time you use
the internet. Anchor text is the text in a hyperlink that is visible and can be clicked on. Anchor text
us usually underlined and appear in a different colour than the rest of the body text. For example,
you've probably seen anchor text that is as simple as "click here to visit our site", or something a
little more descriptive like "Click here to find more information about our web design services." In
HTML, anchor text appears like: <a href="http://www.yoursite.com">anchor text goes here</a>.
Why is it Important for SEO?
The Google algorithm is made up of hundreds of different factors that determine how well a site
ranks in the search engine results pages. With hundreds of factors, some obviously carry more
weight than others, but one of the most important factors is link relevancy. The algorithm looks at
both where inbound links to a site come from as well as the content of their anchor text to determine
how relevant they are to the site.
Over time, this factor has become an important in the search algorithms because it is uses normal
human behaviour to determine link relevancy. For example, when people naturally build links to a
particular site through content on their own site or blog, they typically use descriptive and/or
relevant content in the anchor text of the link.
Let's say that I wanted to tell my friends about awesome local pizza joint that I just discovered
through my personal blog. Instead of just writing, "Check this place out!," I would probably say
something like, "Check out this local pizza joint I just discovered!" Through that link, Google's
algorithm can determine that your site is associated to those keywords. In fact, even if a site doesn't
have great on-site optimization, they can rank for specific search terms if there are enough high
quality links pointing to the site using similar keywords. But that fact brings us to the next point:
How is Anchor Text Abused?
Since link relevancy has become an important ranking factor, people have started to over-use this
method to try and increase their search engine rankings. They will often build hundreds, or even
thousands of links with "exact match" anchor text, meaning the anchor text in all of those links
matches the exact SEO keyword or keyword phrase that the site is trying to rank for. The problem
with this is that it doesn't mimic how links would naturally be built by regular people. If natural
links were built by 100 different people, it's highly unlikely that they would all use the same form of
anchor text. Because Google's main goal is to rank sites "organically" according to how other
internet users interact with their site, over-used exact match anchor text can often be viewed as
spam.
So How Should Anchor Text Be Used?
The key to correctly using anchor text for a solid SEO campaign is to include a good mix of anchor
text variation as well as branded keywords. If you're not familiar with these terms, here are some
quick definitions:
Branded keywords: These are any search terms that are an exact match or variation of your
domain or brand name. If your company name was Acme, branded keywords would be terms like
Acme Inc., Acme.com, Acme LLC, www.Acme.com, etc.
Anchor text variation: variation in anchor text means that the text is not always an exact match of
the keyword phrase your site is trying to rank for. As mentioned previously, it should mimic how
someone would naturally use your keywords in link. For example, if one of your site's targeted
keywords was Your town web design, varied anchor text would include phrases like "web design in
Your town," Your town web design company," "web design services in Your town," etc. Included
in this mix would just be simple anchor text like, "click here," "website," "blog post," etc.
• Linking Profile:
Make your link profile as natural as you can. Mix follow with no-follow links, every now
and then mix a Wiki link along with your anchor text link. Don’t depend on one method of
link building, diversify it. Use blogs, forums, PRs, link profiles (only natural, as normal link
profiles are losing their effectiveness), web 2.0, tier II and III linking.
How to create a natural looking back link profile after the Google Penguin update? Google
has changed the game again in the SEO industry. The penguin update was intended to fight
web spammers who use shady techniques to rank websites.
April was a big month in terms of algorithmic updates for Google. First, they adjusted their
algorithm again in early April, targeting sites with excessive on-page optimization (high
keyword density, keyword stuffing, etc.). Just a few days later, a new algorithm tweak went
live targeting offsite factors (backlinks, social indicators, etc.) which meant a lot of sites
were either de-index or penalized.
This new tweak, code-named Penguin has generated a huge buzz among SEOs and
bloggers because a lot of legit websites were affected. Even quality sites were punished by
Google Penguin update, and a lot of webmasters have complained about the inconsistency
of the latest algorithmic adjustment. If you were affected, and you feel you shouldn’t have,
Google has opened a web form where you can request a manual check of your website.
Create a natural looking backlink profile
•
Create quality content. If you start building links but your content can’t back up
•
Use varied anchor text in your links . A natural link profile contains backlinks from
•
Use long-tails as anchor text. A natural looking links profile has variations of the
•
Not all links are text links. You can use an image as a link too, and any SEOs
•
Mix do-follow and no-follow links. I’ve read countless times how people disregard
your strategy, you’re likely going blind in terms of SEO. Think of your websites as a
long term business and deliver good and useful content for your visitors. If your
content provides value, you’ll gain natural links from other sites and no algorithm
can beat that. It takes time and effort, but it’s well worth.
other persons who think your content is share worthy. Many of those persons are
not webmasters, so probably they don’t even know what an anchor text is. People
tend to link other websites using the URL itself. Try to build links with anchors
likemysite.com, www.mysite.com, MY SITE.com, visit my site. com, HTTP
SITE.COM, etc.
main keyword. For instance, if your site is about dogs use more specific anchors, for
example: dog news, dog pics online, great dog training website, dog friendly blog.
Remember: people will link to your site because of your content and that’s why
you’ll have to use long-tails as anchor text.
overlook this. If you want to increase the relevancy of your image links, use a
keyword rich alt tag. For example: <a href="mysite.com" title="my
keyword"><img src="mykeyword.gif" alt="my keyword" width="100"
height="100" />
link building opportunities just because those links are no-follow and thus
(according to their theories), that link is not worth buying. PageRank is not all you
need. Relevancy, authority and quality are things I look for and PageRank is not that
important for me. I’d rather get a Wikipedia link, which is no-follow, and not a dofollow crap profile from an untrusted website.
Be part of the winners
We can go on trying to find patterns in natural looking backlink profiles but Google’s
algorithm is too complex; instead, try to emulate what the winners are doing in your niche.
Use tools like Majestic SEO or a hrefs and analyse the anchor distribution of the top sites.
Analyse how many links they are building, what anchors are they using, etc.
I hope you can get some ideas from this post; build a natural backlinks profile, and
remember this: nothing can beat the experience. If you really want to learn what works and
what doesn’t, test and make your own conclusions.
• Technical Analysis:
Have someone take a look at your backend, codes and make sure nothing is violating
Google guidelines. Wrong canonical tags were the reason of penalty for one of my client’s
site. Excessive codes, how text appears if Java is disabled etc. All this to make sure you
don’t get hit by a penalty when Google is getting tougher day by day.
With Google constantly changing their algorithm to eliminate low quality content (Panda Update),
sites with structures or metrics that don’t support their large content or product sets (MayDay) or
sites that try to manipulate the search results with link schemes or other manipulative tactics
(Penguin Update), it is vitally important to do website audits on a regular basis. These audits,
much like getting a yearly check-up at your doctor (to combat health issues), can eliminate or
minimize the effect of the Google updates on a poorly optimized or site that is not in good health.
We analyse close to 50 onsite and offsite variables when doing a website audit, grounded in
the TLCs of SEO (Technical, Links, Content, Social). To learn more about some of the questions
and data points we analyse please read our SEO Audit Process post.
This analysis will help identify technical (metrics distribution) problems with your website such as
duplicate title tags, duplicate content, or if your web pages are returning an incorrect HTTP status
code. Below are some more of the data points we check from a technical standpoint to ensure your
site is healthy.
•
301 (Permanent) Redirect Analysis
•
302 (Temporary) Redirect Analysis
•
404 (Client Error) Errors
•
500 (Server Error) Errors
•
Pages Where The Title is Missing or Empty
•
Duplicate Page Content Analysis
•
Duplicate Page Title Analysis
•
Pages That have Long URLs (> 115 characters)
•
Overly-Dynamic URL Analysis
•
Meta Refresh Analysis
•
Pages Where the Title Element is Too Short
•
Pages Where the Title Element is Too Long (> 70 Characters)
•
Pages Containing Too Many On-Page Links
•
Missing Meta Description Tag Analysis
•
Robots.txt Analysis
•
Meta-robots Nofollow Analysis
•
Meta-robots Analysis
•
Canonical Tags Analysis
•
Indexed URLs Analysis
•
Total URLs Receiving Traffic
•
Total Keywords Sending Traffic
Social Media:
Make social media the integral part of your SEO campaign, without it you are not going to
be much trusted by Google. Create Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter, YouTube profiles and link
your site to them. Do regular activity on these social media sites to promote your site and
link your pages to it. Increase your fans, likes and members to give signal to search engines
how popular your site is.
Penguins and Pandas have made life in the SEO world quite interesting! Just when you think, your
SEO company is delivering results, Google throws in a spanner and you are back on the planning
table.
The best way forward, therefore, is to formulate an SEO plan focused on a combination of classic
White Hat SEO strategies, as well as pre-emptive techniques based on Google’s current slew of
updates.
Stop Chasing After Google’s Algorithm
If you look at the recent updates, you will realize that Google has not really done anything new. It
has simply put new measures in place to uphold the Webmaster guidelines. So, your best strategy
would be to keep the same in mind and focus on creating content for your target market and not
search engines. As long as you meet the quality standards laid down by Google, you don’t have to
worry too much about Algorithm changes.
Google+1 is The Way To Go
As per Google’s recent updates, the signals are pretty clear—social media is going to play a huge
role in SEO and Google+ is going to emerge as a major player, at least as far as Google search
results are concerned.
Like it or not, when it comes to online searching, Google is the daunting Gorilla in the room! So,
you may disagree with Google’s policies, but you have to pay attention to what it wants. With the
search engine giving personalized search results to logged in users, G+1 recommendations from
people in your circles have a good chance of landing among the top search results (for relevant
keywords).
For instance, let’s say you follow Matt Cutts on G+1 and you enter the keyword, “SEO advice”,
Google will show pages shared by Matt Cutts right at the top, if you are logged into your Google
account.
The Power Of G+1
However, when you run the same search after logging out, you will get a very different set of
results. By the same logic, if you were to +1 one of these pages, your connections would see that
page served among the top search results, when they enter the same keyword!
So, what does this mean for you as a business?
You can influence SERPs for your community of vendors, advocates, customers, and others with a
professional interest in your business. If your content gets +1s from people in your circles, chances
are it will show up in relevant keyword search results for people in their circles (if they are logged
in to Google). So, you get SERP boosts instantly in certain networks relevant to your niche.
Move your Blog to your domain:
A lot of website owners host blogs on free platforms instead of their own domain. The biggest
disadvantage of this is that your site does not get any Google credit for the fresh content that you
upload. In addition to that, you end up driving the traffic that comes from social sharing to a
separately hosted blog, instead of your business site.
Integrate Social media and content marketing
Make sure you share your content on Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon, Digg and Delicious. These
sites still enjoy a lot of clout. So, add extra weight to your article marketing and blogging efforts by
sharing all your content on these sites. The more you share, the better are the chances of you getting
more tweets, stumbles, Diggs, etc. If your business belongs to the IT niche, Dzone can also prove to
be excellent for creating the right social signals. Also, Google usually shows good speed in
indexing pages marked to these sites.
One size doesn’t fit all
Your social media strategy should be based on your business. What may work for a Project
management company, may not work for someone in the business of fashion.
As per Penguin and Panda, links from authority sites in ones niche are being accorded importance.
Going by that logic, it would be a prudent pre-emptive step to go niche in your social media
marketing efforts too. In addition to that the step is also likely to bring you better referral traffic. So,
if you have a visually focused business, you may want to focus more on a social sharing site like
Pinterest.
Finally, what you have to remember is that social media is an indicator of your site’s reputation and
quality. Don’t fall into the trap of buying ‘likes’ and ‘+1s” , at the end of the day your ROI depends
on real social engagement. Focus on quality and making your content sharable, the benefits will
follow soon.
Creating Backlinks
• Web 2.0 Link Pyramid Tier techniques
How to: Web 2.0 Link Building Strategy
Do you know how to build an effective web 2.0 linking strategy?
If you are currently using Squidoo to send traffic to your website or to simply build backlinks to your
website then you have already started your Web 2.0 link building strategy...you are off to a good start!
Squidoo is one of the best Web 2.0 properties for link building you will find. If not, then join now and play a
little catch up.
Your link building strategy should include about five to ten Web 2.0 pages that will link back to your
website. Each page you create will have a unique 300 - 400 word article and any other unique content you
would like to add. I love how Squidoo allows you to add plenty of unique content through modules. Blogger
and Wordpress also allow plenty of room for creativity through adding content widgets.
Best Web 2.0 Sites for Link Building
Squidoo.com
Blogger.com
Wordpress.com
Webs.com
LiveJournal
Quizilla
VOX.com
Blogsome
Weebly
Hubpages
Jimdo
Wetpaint
Xanga
Wikispaces
Original Circle Link Wheel
The circle link wheel is no longer as effective...
The original link wheel was a circle link wheel where you had 4 - 5 Web 2.0 sites linking back to your main
site. You would then have your first web 2.0 page link to your second, your second link to your third and so
on. This worked great for building backlinks at first, but the search engines caught on fast and these types
of link wheels are not as effective these days.
In order for a link wheel to be effective to improve your websites seo rank, you need to erase your tracks
and leave no footprint. Sounds a little complicated, but it's not. You simply have to build a random link
wheel where one page randomly links to another with no set pattern. The typical link wheel has a pattern
that is very easy for search engines to follow and if they catch on to your link wheel scheme, they are sure
to punish your site only hurting your search rankings. They will surely toss your site right in their sandbox to
sit for a while.
Random Link Wheels Are More Effective
Creating a random linkwheel erases the link footprint...
While the old circle link wheel is easy for search engines to trace because there is a clear path to
follow, the newer random link wheel is nearly impossible to track if you know how to properly
create one. Now, they do take a bit of work to complete, but once your random link wheel is
created, you will have tons of quality backlinks pointing to your site.
A random link wheel should be created in a way that there is no direct path that can be detected
in the wheel. You must leave no footprint for the search engines to follow because if you do they
will find you. The more random the spokes on your wheel are, the more effective the seo power
will be when it is passed on to your website.
In a random link wheel only about five to ten Web 2.0 websites will actually link directly to your
website. The remaining links you create will flow to other internet properties in your link wheel in
no particular pattern.
The Random Link Wheel
Tier 1: Create five to ten Web 2.0 properties with a 400 - 700 word article containing a link back to
your main website.
Tier 2: Create 10 - 20 blog posts with unique articles that link back to your newly created web 2.0
pages. Do not link back to your main site from these blog posts. You may have to create a new
blog to make up this tier.
Tier 3: Create 10 - 20 articles and submit them to article directories. Include a link to your blog
posts in the author bio box. If you spin your articles, manually spin them so they are completely
unique each time.
Tier 4: Create 5 - 10 articles and submit each one individually to ezinearticles. Include a link to your
Web2.0 properties in the author bio box.
Tier 5: Comment on relevant blogs and provide a link back to your blog posts in tier 2.
Tier 6: Social Bookmark your Web 2.0 pages in tier 1.
Your link wheel can consist of many more types of websites linking to different tiers, but
remember to keep it random. Only tier 1 should link to your main site and have each tier link to
sites in another tier.
Web 2.0 Resource List
Here is a list of my Personal favourite Web 2.0 sites:
•
Hubpages
•
Squidoo
•
InfoBarrel
•
Bukisa
•
Ukritic (this is one, allows you to directly place Affiliate links into your articles!)
•
Xomba
Here are few more
wordpress.com - pr9
tumblr.com - pr8
typepad.com - pr8
weebly.com - pr8
blogger.com - pr8
tripod.com - pr8
posterous.com - pr7
jimdo.com - pr7
yola.com - pr7
squidoo.com - pr7
multiply.com - pr7
angelfire.com - pr7
officelive.com - pr7
rediff.com - pr7
wikidot.com - pr7
webs.com - pr7
webnode.com - pr7
salon.com - pr7
edublogs.org - pr6
webspawner.com - pr6
soup.io - pr6
ucoz.com - pr6
travelblog.org - pr6
gather.com - pr6
springnote.com - pr6
webstarts.com - pr6
moonfruit.com - pr6
journalspace.com - pr6
blog.de - pr6
onsugar.com - pr6
quizilla.teennick.com - pr6
areavoices.com - pr6
freeblog.hu - pr6
blog.com - pr6
blogdrive.com - pr5
blogtext.org - pr5
freeflux.net - pr5
freehostia.com - pr5
zoomshare.com - pr5
flixya.com - pr5
webgarden.com - pr5
ohlog.com - pr5
livelogcity.com - pr5
snappages.com - pr5
sosblogs.com - pr5
visualsociety.com - pr5
insanejournal.com - pr5
alivenotdead.com - pr5
hazblog.com - pr5
hpage.com - pr5
blog.com.es - pr5
350.com - pr5
beep.com - pr5
devhub.com - pr5
blog.hr - pr5
blinkweb.com - pr5
ewebsite.com - pr5
flukiest.com - pr4
bloggum.com - pr4
inube.com - pr4
iseekblog.com - pr4
hipero.com - pr4
blurty.com - pr4
bloghi.com - pr4
wallinside.com - pr4
getjealous.com - pr4
fotopages.com - pr4
wikipages.com - pr4
freeblogspot.org - pr4
myblogsite.com - pr4
spi-blog.com - pr4
2itb.com - pr4
mytripjournal.com - pr4
blogreaction.com - pr4
doomby.com - pr4
blogge.rs - pr4
mywapblog.com - pr4
yousaytoo.com - pr4
publr.com - pr3
blogster.com - pr3
weblogplaza.com - pr3
spyuser.com - pr3
bcz.com - pr3
iblog.at - pr3
honmag.com - pr3
blogpico.com - pr2
evood.com - pr2
uwcblog.com - pr2
Bonuses
UMASS University: http://transit-dev.admin.umass.edu/projects/transit2/newticket
Bentley University: http://qt1.bentley.edu/groups/ibentfinalpresentation/blog/
Buffalo State University: http://ask.buffalostate.edu/index.php?act=Reg &CODE=00
Perdue University: http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~griffin/406/register/
Portland State University: http://svcs.cs.pdx.edu/moodle/login/signup.php
Perelandra University: http://moodle.perelandra.edu/moodle/login/signup.php
NC State University: http://arksee.ncsu.edu/community/register/
University Of Kansas: http://www2.ku.edu/~lsiprepared/cgi-bin/wordpress/register
South Puget: http://elearn.spscc.edu/user/register
Arizona State University: http://zoomation.asu.edu/user/register
.GOV SITES
http://208.119.72.66/digiwiki/index.php?title=Special:UserLogin &type=signup
http://www.gursey.gov.tr/mediawiki/index.php?title=Special:Userlogin &type=signup
.EDU SITES
http://scripts.mit.edu/~cci/HCI/index.php?title=Special:UserLogin &type=signup
http://hawaii.edu/lyonarboretum/wiki2/index.php?title=Special:UserLogin &type=signup
Comment Backlink Sites
dc.gov: http://www.evidencewarehouse.ocp.dc.gov/index.php?
title=Special:Userlogin&returnto=Main_Page
NMSU.edu:Go http://pltw.nmsu.edu/forum.aspx?g=rules. Once registered, post content
http://pltw.nmsu.edu/forum.aspx?g=forum
Mexican Institute of Technology. Go http://ittlearning.ittehuacan.edu.mx/ittlearning/login/signup.php
Content creation instructions are the same as Liberty University http://eduranksurge.com/access2

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