Link Text: Revisited

Link text, or ‘anchor text,’ as its otherwise known, has been a factor that has had a weighting in Google and other search engines for quite some time now… In this article, I aim at going a little deeper on the subject of link text… I will address how a webmaster can optimize their current internal linking. I will also provide a few tips on how to make sure for example that those linking to you are not just using your URL, but are using your keywords as anchor text, and will share with you some ideas on how to increase the number of internal keyword filled links on your own site.

Link text, or ‘anchor text,’ as its otherwise known, has been a factor that has had a weighting in Google and other search engines for quite some time now. This boost in ranking, through links containing keyword rich link text, has been written about in forums and articles before.

In this article, I aim at going a little deeper on the subject of link text. I have noticed that within the last couple of weeks the weighting given for link text appears to have risen sharply. It is feasible now to, with absolutely no on-page optimization (pure flash or frame site), rank top on competitive terms, solely based on a high number of incoming links which use the ideal link (anchor) text to the site.

I will address how a webmaster can optimize their current internal linking. I will also provide a few tips on how to make sure for example that those linking to you are not just using your URL, but are using your keywords as anchor text, and will share with you some ideas on how to increase the number of internal keyword filled links on your own site.
{mospagebreak title=Inbound Links&toc=1} Clearly, the optimal link to your site will contain your main keyword phrase. Unfortunately, however, a webmaster’s ego will get in the way of optimization (this applies to title tags as well all too often), and just the company name will be used as linked text, for example ‘XYZ Ltd.’ Here’s an example:

Let’s say you have a website that sells car insurance online. When you solicit links, and fail to give guidance as to what the link should like, you will commonly get something along the lines of ‘John Smith’s Insurance Ltd’ as the link text. This is great if you want to be found with your company name and can compensate for the extremely broad term ‘insurance.’ It is, however, far from the ideal.

The ideal would be something like ‘Cheap Car insurance – John Smith’s Insurance Ltd’, whereby only ‘Cheap Car Insurance’ contains the link. If this whole sentence is too long, simply ‘Cheap Car Insurance’ or just ‘Car Insurance’ is preferable.

There is also some evidence, although not conclusive, that the title attribute can add a slight ranking boost. So let’s take the example above and show you the html code for it.

<a href=”” title=”car insurance”>Car insurance</a>

In the case of the very first example:

<a href=’’ title=”Cheap Car insurance”>Cheap Car insurance</a> – John Smith’s Insurance Ltd.

If you do not specify the html code to be used upon successfully soliciting a link, you will very likely just end up with the following:

<a href=””> John Smith’s Insurance Ltd </a>

Or worse,

<a href=””></a>

(Note: This is why all those domains with keywords in their domain tend to do well.)

Clearly, this is not specifying the exact link text and code can lead to a waste of a good link text opportunity.

The solution, therefore, is to provide a webmaster who has agreed to link to you with the exact html code. This has two main advantages. First, the webmaster will be grateful, as all he/she has to do is copy and paste the code in his/her site. Second, you also get the text link that does your site the most good.
{mospagebreak title=Getting Links&toc=1} Although the most common way ‘ by far – to get links is through mutual link exchange by email solicitation, there are several other ways.

  1. Offer a unique feature, such as a tool or valuable article. Mention on your webpage something like ‘Webmasters are most welcome and encouraged to link to this [article/tool/xyz]. Simply copy and paste the code below.’ with a box underneath supplying your code as above. An example of this can be seen at the end of my SEO tutorial here.

  2. Most online services, shops, etc., can be affiliated with. A lot of sites with very high Google *PageRank, have such high Pagerank because a link to their homepage is necessary in their terms and conditions. I’m sure we’ve all seen the ‘powered by” links and such before. If you offer an affiliate program, think SEO, and insist partners provide a link to your homepage with the exact code. If you don’t have an affiliate program, then consider one. It should be noted that a written condition to have a back link on a customer’s site is vastly different than a partner program back link. For a list of good affiliate management resources check out the Google directory.

    * Pagerank ‘: A measurement visible with the Google toolbar that shows in a scale of 0-10 what Google evaluates as the ‘value’ of a site based on link popularity and quality of incoming links.

  3. If you can offer something valuable for free, consider something like a ‘Link and Win!’ feature on your site. For example, all those that link to your site will receive a free ebook (or whatever). This may well tip the balance if someone is considering linking to your site anyway. If you have something particularly valuable, make it a ‘Link and enter our draw for” kind of thing.

  4. Where you can, post your own link. You should of course use optimized link text rather than just your company name. For example, submission to theme related directories, or more commonly, contributing in theme related forums where signatures are allowed. This is not to say you spam forums, but you contribute normally and spend more time answering questions than asking them (you gain much more respect and the click rate on your signature links will also be far higher).

  5. Finally, try putting yourself in another webmaster’s shoes, one who has just arrived at your site. Ask yourself this question: ‘Why would I link to this site” Does it have something unique’ Is it informative’ Is the website well designed and user friendly’ Does it have any useful Tools/FAQ’ Would I feel comfortable recommending the site to others’ Does it consolidate lots of theme related information in an easy to read format. The most important question, of course, is really ‘What does this site offer that the thousands of other websites on this theme don’t”

It’s going to be hard work getting links with a site full of marketing blurb and sales copy. A site full of valuable content and unique features will, in time, be recognised as an ‘expert’ site, or at the very least a good resource, worthy of linking to. It’s a cliché, but content is king.

You may be thinking that your site has more than one main keyword phrase. Should you only use link text for one of them or do you split your incoming/internal links 50/50 for, say, two main terms’ The answer is that it depends on the competitiveness of your search terms. If they have less than 150,000 competing pages in Google, for example, then split your inbound links 50/50.

In the insurance example above, you can populate half of the incoming links with ‘Car insurance’ as the anchor text and use the other half for say ‘Health Insurance,’ assuming you offer it. For competitive terms (150,000+), stick to the top one keyword phrase for incoming links. When you rank well with this term, then, at that point, change your link text for new incoming links to your second most important keyword phrase.
{mospagebreak title=Internal Linkage and Link Text&toc=1} Link text should not only be considered for incoming links, but also internal linkage as well. It is no coincidence that websites with many pages tend to rank above those with just a handful. The main reason isn’t directly due to the number of pages, but rather the number of optimized links that contain keywords in the link text pointing to the homepage.

There is, however, a balance between keywords in link text and user friendliness. If I was to have ‘Internet Marketing’ instead of ‘Home’ on my left hand navigation, it would not be clear at all that the link is for my home page. Many would understandably think it’s a deep link to some ‘internet marketing’ article. Common sense is required, and you shouldn’t just add keywords to link text to everything automatically. There are however many examples where you can take the knowledge that link text is powerful and use it to your advantage. Eg. ‘Car Insurance FAQ’ instead of just ‘FAQ’.

For ‘Kostenlose Online Tools’ (free online tools) my page ranks top worldwide. Sure, the page has been optimized for ‘online tools,’ however the main ranking boost for this page is due to the literally thousands of internal links with ‘online tools’ in the link text. The thousands of links come from my forum which in the footer of every page links to my tools page with the link text ‘online tools.’

Clearly, the more pages you have, the more links with optimized link text can point to your main pages. Here are a few ideas for creating more content.

  1. Many sites fail to provide a sitemap. It is not only a good web design practice, but it is also a page that can be indexed and therefore a page where link text could most definitely be used to boost your internal pages.

  2. Create a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page for your theme. It is work, but it’s worth it. It also gives your website more standing and stature.

  3. Create additional pages for products, perhaps detailed technical info. A main product summary page with a link to a ‘specific detail’ page is a known and legitimate SEO tactic to create more highly optimized pages and also of course adds pages for the inclusion of more link text.

  4. Articles & Newsletters. If you feel you could write an article on your theme (“Car Insurance Claim Do’s and Don’ts”), or you have a newsletter, then you have an opportunity there to add content on a regular basis. I archive on the web all my newsletters. It’s not just for those that haven’t subscribed, but for the good of my own ranking as well!

  5. ‘About us,’ ‘Terms and conditions’ ‘Contact’ sub pages, are all pages that will be indexed and the links on them will be followed and carry weight. You don’t have an ‘about us’ page’ Create one!

Of course, a forum is ideal for adding content pages which can contain text links. I firmly recommend you don’t go down the doorway page spam route. If the pages are visible, don’t have an automatic redirect, contain readable text, and are not just designed for search engines, then that’s fine; you can sleep at night knowing that a competitor filling out a Google spam report will not get them anywhere. Product/Service detailed description pages are a good example of how to create many additional pages. It’s more work than hitting a doorway page generator button, but definitely worth it.

Also, Be consistent in your internal linking. Don’t change keywords throughout the site in order to try and get a boost for many keywords. Use the same internal link text as you solicit from external sites linking to you, particularly for competitive terms.
{mospagebreak title=Finally, a Few Considerations&toc=1}

  • Take the time to review your internal links with a view to consistency and link text..

  • Add additional pages, such as add a ‘details’ page to your products thereby doubling the number of your product pages.

  • Add keywords in your navigation text links without the navigation looking odd or nonsensical

  • Change graphic links to text links; CSS text formatting can be very attractive you know.

  • Review your backlinks (links from external websites), and ask for a change in link text if the links you currently have only contain, say, your company name.

  • Have a ‘link to us’ page where those wishing to link can copy and paste the ideal link code. Could you install a SE friendly forum’

I hope this article has at least given you some food for thought. If you underestimate the value of link text, you are missing out on potentially a huge ranking boost.
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