Why Google May Penalize You for the Perfect Incoming Link
Natural Anchor Text for Links
I recently read an article about Linking Strategies for 2009 and while most of what I read was basic common sense to anyone that has been around the internet for a while, one point stood out to me as something I should share. In Eduard’s “7 golden rules of white hat link building” section of the article, point #3 is about “Natural anchor text distribution.”
In this section, Eduard writes
A natural anchor text (or link text) means that not all links have the ‘perfect’ anchor text. But search engines can detect this and devaluate your site. So make sure you realize a natural anchor text distribution.
The point he is making is that too many times SEO experts put such a focus on the importance of the perfect anchor text for your links and that doing this may in fact send up red flags that the links are artificial and not natural. Artificially obtained links to a website can become devalued by Google as they may be seen as an attempt to game the search engine system. Natural links just happen and its those links that Google places the most value on.
As Eduard says in his article, natural links are more than just the perfect anchor text for your links. In many cases, a natural link may just be a URL to your website. In other cases, it may be a link with your website’s name as the anchor text. And other times it could well be the specific keywords you are seeking for your website as the anchor text. The point is that there should be some variety in the types of incoming backlinks you get.
Let’s break this down in an example…
One of the keyword targets for this website is “business website design.” If every link to our website included the perfect anchor text of business website design, Google may see this as something we have done specifically for manipulating this search result. However, if people also link to our website with links such as FoundByDesign and http://foundbydesign.com, then the combination and “distribution” of these types of link appear more natural.
So when working at your link building strategies, be sure to vary your link anchor text. Anytime you are in control of setting the anchor text, make sure you remember to vary the different types of anchor text, and when using keywords for your anchor text, be sure to use variations of those keywords as well. This will be a more natural way of linking to your website and help provide the boost you are seeking in the SERPs.
NoFollow and DoFollow Links
Another thought along the sames lines has to do with “nofollow” backlinks. Again, SEO experts will exclaim all day long that you need to get incoming links to your website that are not tagged with a “nofollow” tag. And while this type of link does provide more link power for your site, not every link you get will be a “dofollow” link. In the natural world, you will get links to your website that are indeed tagged as “nofollow.” If all the links to your website are only of the “dofollow” variety, this may be seen as unnatural and could also be seen as gaming the system.
Remember, Google pays attention to links just as much as it does content. If you content is considered to be too keyword heavy, you could be seen as stuffing keywords to manipulate the search engine results, possibly preventing you from getting ranked. Likewise, if backlinks to your website are considered to be artificial, these links may be seen as manipulative and not natural, possibly hurting your rankings. Google wants good quality, unique content to provide their users. Google trusts natural links to your website to be an indicator of the popularity and value of your website. If either seem to be manipulated, Google may in fact decide to elevate another website over yours.
Linking to Found By Design?
While we would love to have backlinks using great anchor text with appropriate keywords, we have decided that we will leave that up to the end user to decide how to link to us. Instead of saying you must link to us in a certain way, we are happy to thank you for the link itself. Now, if you would like to add a few keywords to that link, we’d be appreciative of that as well!