June 10, 2008
But don’t worry. Linking is a whole lot easier today than it was a few years ago. Experience has taught us a lot and with the information in this article you won’t need to worry about endless trial and error. We have a repeatable process that anyone can do, as easy as 1, 2, 3.
That said; let’s take a look at the linking strategies that Google will give you the most credit for…
Link Strategy 1: Reap the Most Benefit from Anchor Text
You probably already know that anchor text is the clickable word or words that make up a hyperlink. But what you may not yet fully realize is just how powerful anchor text is. Want to see for yourself? Try a simple experiment…
Go to http://www.Google.com and search for “click here” (without quotes.) Did you get a link for Adobe Acrobat Reader at number 1? Why is that? Check out the page. They have no mention of “click here” anywhere on the page or in the META tags.
So why does it rank number 1 on Google for “click here”? It’s all thanks to anchor text. More specifically, it’s because of the countless pages that have “click here” as anchor text that links to Adobe’s Acrobat Reader download page.
Did you notice how many competing pages there are for “click here” on Google? Almost Two Billion! Anchor text is extremely important. Here are a few rules of thumb to get the most from yours…
- Use your three most important keywords for your anchor text. Specifically, your most important word 60% of the time; your second most important keyword 25% and your third keyword 15%. And that is for every page you link to (each page should focus on two to three keywords.)
- Use “long tail” keywords when appropriate (3 or more words in the keyword phrase.)
- If your anchor text is part of a paragraph, like a signature block, make certain the surrounding text is optimized for the keyword you want or close variations. And make sure that text is varied. You want to have plenty of versions of the surrounding text block so Google doesn’t ding it as duplicate content.
Link Strategy 2: Make Your Target URLs Laser Accurate
URL accuracy, or format consistency, is extremely important. Be sure to use the exact same URL whenever you request a link. Even though a URL link beginning with “http” or “www” (or both) might resolve to the same webpage, Google sees them as different destinations.
Want to see for yourself? Go back to Google.com and enter “Links: http://” (without quotes) followed by www… any domain name you want. This will give you the inbound links for that specific domain.
OK, easy enough. Jot down the number of links. Now try it again WITHOUT the “www.” And record the number of links. Now try it a third time with the “www” but NOT the http://”. Are you getting different numbers? This is because Google sees them as different link destinations.
Link Strategy 3: Go Beyond Reciprocal Linking
Reciprocal links just aren’t enough any more. Google now discounts the importance of simple link swaps so reciprocal links alone will not do the trick like they used to. But don’t worry, with a little time or money or both, you can have the best links imaginable.
The two fastest and least expensive ways are by submitting your site to directories or paying a link service, but NOT a reciprocal linking service. Let’s start with directories…
But before we do, there are two downsides to links from directories that I need to mention. First, Google has been discounting directory links over the past few months. Second, some directories charge a fee to get listed (for example Yahoo charges $299 per year!)
But don’t despair. Links from directories may not be all they used to, but they still help your SEO efforts. There’s a page I like to check out that has the top directories listed as well as links to the site, their GRP (Google PageRank rating), cost (if any) and more; http://www.strongestlinks.com/directories.php
You can click on the column headings to sort by any category you want. This makes finding the freebies, or top GPR sites quick and easy. This site also appears to have some sort of paid membership available but I just use the free link above and it does all I need and more.
Important Note: There is a third possible risk that comes from link farms, which are sometimes very similar to certain link services. That risk is having too many inbound links coming from a single IP range (Internet Protocol address.) Google HATES this and will discount all these links, or worse.
As for reciprocal linking services, I recommend you avoid them like the plague. However there is a nice solution called “3 way linking” that still allows you the set it and forget it option. Here’s one service I’ve had great results with…
3WayLinker.com (http://www.3WayLinker.com) does not link sites back to each other reciprocally. Instead it creates a series of one way links that are counted purely as inbound links by Google. Even more it helps eliminate duplicate content in your link text and makes sure all inbound links are from a wide range of IP addresses.
Here’s how it works… Site “A” links to site “B”. Site “B” links to site “C”. And then site “C” links to site “A”. So each is a true one way link. This also gives the system more options regarding which sites form a team. With reciprocal links, if both sites use the same hosting provider, there is a very high chance you will be linked within the same IP range. With three way linking this problem is eliminated.
So to recap,
- Get the most out of your anchor text;
- Be very consistent with your link URL, and
- Do more than just reciprocal linking.
Now go get that top spot you’ve been after!
Search engine optimization specialist Mike Small has been helping large and small businesses get the top spots on Google, Yahoo, MSN and others since 1998. In addition to owning a successful SEO service, Mike is also the founder and main editor of SEOpartner.com, an SEO blog with hundreds of pages of helpful insight to get your site to the top of the world’s top search engines.