There’s no doubt that the Penguin update rocked the SEO world. Link building has always been a huge part of SEO and certain link building practices that were once standards in the industry are no longer acceptable. For example, it had always been recommended to link back to pages of your website with keyword anchor text links. Using a keyword in the link told the search engine spider what could be expected on that page and was more meaningful than linking to a phrase like “click here”. A few years ago any SEO would recommend keyword anchor text linking. What happened next was that it resulted in online marketers inserting keywords where they didn’t fit just to get the keyword anchor text link in there and Google concluded that the practice was being abused.
The Penguin update negatively impacted sites that were guilty of “SEO over optimization” sending out a message that linking needs to be more natural and less forced. Does this mean that keyword anchor text linking should be ditched all together? Absolutely not. It just means that in order to keep things natural, it requires more planning (ironically). Follow these guidelines to keep your anchor text linking as “natural” as possible:
1. Keyword Research
Keyword research is perhaps the most important step of an SEO campaign. It’s important to avoid making the mistake of thinking that you know what keywords to target. Sometimes a business owner/website owner is too close to their business and is unable to see it as outsiders do, meaning that certain keywords could be missed entirely.
2. Keyword Selection
After you’ve generated a list of potential keywords to target on each page of the site, go through and select the 2-5 per page that are the best fit based on search volume and relevancy.
3. Create Lists
Because you should only select and target 2-5 keywords on each page of content, it’s likely that there will be many left over that didn’t make the cut, but are still relevant to your business and still generate search volume. Using all of the keywords that came up in the research (that were relevant), create separate lists of keywords. The master list can include all of the keywords, then break it down from there. One list can include the keywords that were targeted, another can include the extras, and another can be dedicated to strictly long tail variations. The number of lists really depends on how many relevant keywords came up in the research. It’s important to include branded keyword search terms as well since it is much more likely for a link that occurred naturally to link to the name of the company instead of a keyword.
4. Distribute Separate Lists
What’s important to understand about SEO is that it doesn’t operate in a silo. The content that is distributed on behalf of different internal teams has an impact on an SEO campaign. A large company may have an SEO team, web content writers, social media experts and a PR department. Give each department a separate list of anchor text keywords that includes what page each keyword should link to.
To ensure that things are “natural” use an SEO reporting tool to analyze your list of keyword anchor text that is being used and going live on the web. If it looks like a few keywords are being “abused” and used too often, cut back on using them and determine which keywords should be used in their place.
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Image: Penguins by Shutterstock