The changing face of linkbuilding

I’ve blogged before about Google’s algorithmic evolution and how the search giant is constantly making adjustments to the way in which it ranks and rates a site. It’s a fundamental reason for the big G’s sustained success and the reason we Google subjects we want to search for rather than Bing or Yahoo them.

The regular updates that Google make to their algorithm can make monumental differences to a website’s position, its related visibility and subsequent profitability. If the difference between 1st place and 2nd in the SERP equates to 70% less traffic then the loss in visitors that occurs when you disappear from the front page all together doesn’t bear thinking about and yet this is exactly what happens to hundreds of thousands of websites every time Google tweaks their algorithm in the interests of the user. For this reason it is of paramount importance that your website doesn’t fall foul of Google’s guidelines and that you aren’t building links using tactics that are now frowned upon.

One such frowned upon linkbuilding tactic is that of using too much unnatural anchor text. In years gone by the holy grail of the SEO professional was a link from a trusted source that used the precise keyword you wanted to rank for as its link text, for example “cheap car insurance” pointing to your car insurance comparison site. But now Google has decreed that such links aren’t all that natural, which is completely correct given that most webmasters wouldn’t think to use a prime key term as anchor text for an external link unless they had a vested interest in getting that site to rank for that term.

So all of a sudden if your site has a backlink profile full of keyword rich anchor text links, the very links that were previously so golden, Google is going to raise a suspicious eyebrow and potentially penalise your site for “over-optimising”. Their thinking being that it’s far more likely that a backlink profile would have a higher proportion of generic text as the anchor text like “click here”, “see this website” or even just the full URL. If a journalist at The Guardian is writing an article about holiday villas in Tuscany in which he mentions your company, there’s very little likelihood he’ll link to you with promotional text like “best deals on Tuscany holidays” and every chance he’ll just drop in your website’s URL. And it’s links from trusted sources such as major British newspapers that Google places such high value in, meaning that non-optimised link is precisely what your site is going to benefit most from now.

Linkbuilding remains one of the most important aspects of any successful SEO campaign, but the way in which it is successfully carried out changes frequently and if you don’t stay ahead of the game the tactic that paid such dividends for you last week may now be doing you damage. If you’ve got the time, inclination and technical knowhow to keep abreast of the many developments in SEO you can ensure your site stays on Google’s good side. For everyone else there’s Artemis Internet Marketing!