There have been many ways in the past to manipulate the Google algorithm and find ways to achieve higher rankings. Google have always been aware of this and finally cracked down on over-optimisation with the introduction of the panda update last year, which most digital marketers and webmasters are now well aware of.
Working in a search agency, it’s important for us to analyse a prospected clients back link profile to identify what keywords they are targeting with what anchor text terms, and the volume of inbound links using the anchor text.
If you’re unfamiliar with what anchor text actually is, it’s simply the clickable hyperlink used in content to refer/drive a user to another page or website.
There are a number of different types of anchor text that is used when building links:
Branded anchor text includes any link that is a brand name (Search Factory), URL or domain (searchfactory.com.au). It is important to build a solid presence of branded anchor text in your back link profile. Google basically wants to see brand referrals in content, opposed to targeted keywords, as it looks more natural.
Exact match anchor text is now frowned upon and can be considered over optimisiation. This refers to the words in the links (anchor text), exactly matching the keywords that you are trying to rank for. If you have a keyword, let’s say ‘SEO’ that is the H1 on your home page, included in your page title and contains a high volume of inbound links containing the anchor text ‘SEO‘, expect a visit from the Google Penguin.
Many SEOs or webmasters will use ‘money’ or ‘targeted’ anchor text to build links without over optimising their website. You just need to be careful that you don’t over do it with volume, H tags and other content within your site.
Compound, also commonly known as ‘partial match anchor text’, is used when the link contains the brand or targeted term, in addition to other words that you aren’t targeting. For example, is you use a brand name in conjunction with some other words – ‘Search Factory SEO services provide a custom strategy for each individual client’.
Also commonly referred to as ‘zero match anchor text’, white noise uses call to actions to drive users to targeted pages, such as, click here to follow us on LinkedIn. It’s acceptable to have a small percentage of white noise terms in your back link profile.
So now that you have a basic understanding between the different anchor text terms, let’s have a look at an example. Below is a metric comparison, taken from an analysis I did when conducting a competitor analysis in Link Research Tools:
When looking at this data, it’s easily identifiable that this potential client is heavily over optimised. The orange column in the table is for the website I was analysing and the green was their competitors.
The client back link profile contains 86% money/exact match anchor text and only 7% branded. This scream over optimisation!
The immediate competition (2 websites) were the complete opposite, with 55% branded and only 28% money/exact match anchor text on average.
Each both had their small percentages of compound and white noise (other) anchor text, which is fine and looks somewhat natural in the eyes of Google. But if you have 86% of exact match anchor text pointing at your site, that isn’t natural.
Can you guess which one was penalised by the Google Penguin?
Other good SEO tools that are ideal for back link analysis include Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer. All of these tools provide access to the entire back link profile of a domain. Here you can find some pretty interesting information that may eventually make or break your online presence. If you see any potential red flags, you may wan t act on it ASAP.