Authority VS Link Anchor Text
In the past this section talked up how important anchor text is. While anchor text
is still somewhat important, it has been heavily gamed over the past couple years,
and thus Google’s relevancy algorithms have de-weighted anchor text while placing
more weight on domain age and link authority.
A quality link from an authoritative site that does not have your desired anchor text
is worth more than a link from an average or low-quality site that has your
keywords in the anchor text.
Even if you get a quality link that points to a different part of your site it will still
raise your overall relevancy and authority for every page on your site.
Site & Article Titles as Guides for Anchor Text
Many people reference things by their official names. Thus, if you write an article
that has a keyword somewhere in the title many of the people who link at your
article will link with the keyword in the link.
If you are writing information with the intent to spread make sure you place being
linkworthy above being keyword focused though. You can always change your
title after people link to your article.
Why are Links so Powerful?
When we write stuff about ourselves, we have a tendency to lie. It is human nature
to boost your own worth. This is why meta tags and page copy are nowhere near
as powerful as they once were. They have been used and abused.
Links from other webmasters are viewed by search engines as unbiased, third party
votes. While Yahoo! tends to put more weight on page copy than Google does,
links are the #1 ranking criteria for competitive phrases in all major search engines.
Many people who look for links just think “link,” but often, this is not the most
effective way to do link building. If you think of the web as a huge social network
and think of links as relationships, you have a huge advantage over your
You can do many manipulative things to make your ideas appear better than they
are, but if you can find more natural ways to embed yourself in the social
structure of the web, you will likely become extremely successful.
Links from Directories
Some directories will only list your real site name. When submitting to the major
directories, you want to get the best listing you can, but many of those who edit
directories are volunteers. To make their job easy, make sure you do the following
This is probably the single
most important concept in
this whole e-book:
Many people who look
for links just think “link,”
but often this is not the
most effective way to
do link building. If you
think of the web as a
huge social network
and think of links as
relationships, you have
a huge advantage over
Submit your site to the right category.
Read the directory submission tips.
Check to see how other sites in that category are listed. If they
primarily are listed by site title, make sure you submit your actual site
title. If they seem to be a bit liberal (allowing keyword-stuffed listings),
you may want to submit with a more liberal and descriptive title (i.e.,
try to get your keywords in some of the links).
Use a suitable description. Make sure you mix your link anchor text
and descriptions each time you get a link.
View the other entries in the category so you can see the style of the
Emulate the style of other listings, but provide your own original
factual details in the description. Try your best to state what sets you
apart or what is your unique selling proposition.
Keyword-rich domain names lead to keyword-rich links from
directories. If your site does not have a keyword-rich URL, then it is
easy to change the site graphic design to make it look like the site’s
official name at launch is my keyword store or similar. In addition, you
can place your keywords inside the page title and site logo such that it
looks like your site name is Paypal Payment Solutions instead of just
Paypal. That move might be viewed as shady by some, and it is not
something you would do with an already well-branded business, but if
you are starting from scratch, try to use what advantages you can.
Links from Other Resources
Some people are rather link--liberal and will list your site as you please. Again, view
how they have their other links and emulate them.
If you are trading links, and a site is requesting a super keyword-rich link, they
should have no problem with giving you a keyword-rich link.
Sometimes writing articles or creating viral tools is a quick way to build links in a
cheap and time effective manner.
How do You Learn Best?
Some people learn better by watching video than by reading. Dan Thies recently
offered two free videos on link building. I recommend watching both of them,
even if you also read the rest of this chapter. The first video is web-based
), and the second one is an exe file
Vary Link Text
All the links pointing to your site should not have the same exact link text as that
could be a sure sign of link spamming. You want to mix it up and use different
text links from different sites. This will make it appear as natural linking to search
You probably shouldn’t let any more than 20-30% of your links have any specific
anchor text if you can control it. There are no set rules, but mixing it up will
prevent you from flagging spam filters that currently exist or may soon be added to
When I get links into my SEO Book site, I frequently use the following anchor
Aaron Wall’s SEO Book
Search Engine Optimization Book
SEO Book: Search Engine Optimization
sometimes I may use a few other variations such as: SEO Ebook, SEO
Blog, Search Engine Marketing Tips, or SEO News
I also occasionally use what some would consider to be bad link text.
Sometimes using words like here, click here, <www.domain.com>, and
<http://www.domain.com> may help make your link popularity look
Requesting links without specifying the desired anchor text also helps
guarantee your link profile will have a bit of variety in it, since people
who are not told how to link will use various different anchor text
You want to use a few semantically similar phrases and many anchor text variations
to make your anchor text look as natural as it can. Some people try to make
anchor text like this (with the following being one big link):
SEO, search engine optimization, placement positioning services
strategy, top ranked #1 Google, Yahoo!, MSN
But that is not how people normally link. It is usually better to use many short link
text groups than trying to get all of your keyword variations in every link.
My Link Profile is Less than Ideal
My site has hundreds of thousands of links pointing to it. Given that many links, I
should be able to own the market, but because I was so focused on brand building,
my anchor text profile is not as well mixed as it should be.
I never expected my site or my reputation to grow as quickly as they did. This
leads me to the point that if you think there is a chance your brand and reputation
may grow quickly, you may want to try to get good anchor text variation early on in
your link building. Later on, when lots of people link to you with your brand as the
anchor text, your site will have relevant anchor text for many other queries.
Using Links to Capture the Tail End of Search
Many people optimize their sites for stuff like purple widgets and forget to optimize
for more specific or related terms. You cannot always optimize your page for all
the terms you like, but you can add some modifier or descriptive words in some of
the inbound link text to try to rank well in a slightly broader keyword basket. Some
example link text might be the following:
Buy Purple Widgets
Purple Widget Store
Purple Widget Sale
Doing this may mean that it may take longer to rank well for purple widgets, but it
also means you will likely rank for many more specific queries around that keyword
term space in a quicker time period. It also makes your link profile look more
natural and makes your site less likely to get filtered out of the search results.
Giving away Tools or Knowledge for Linkage Data
Many sites build free linkage data by creating industry standard tools. I paid a
friend only $400 to create the Hub Finder tool and in its first month of existence, it
probably got at least $1,000 worth of free links. Digital Point has many free links
from the tools they give away.
If you have great free tools on your site, you may garner many natural, editorial,
quality links from them. If you place tools on other sites, make sure you also put a
few links on them to drive traffic and link authority at your most important sites.
Articles can act just like tools as link magnets. Paul Graham is a great example of a
writer who gains a ton of free linkage data by giving away knowledge. His How to
Start a Startup article is a classic example of an article that built him significant
In a large social network, as long as you think about the scalability of your business
model, it is hard to give away too much software or information. The more you
give away, the more you get back.
Framing, Controversy & Story Telling
Framing is a concept well known in politics. The thesis behind the idea of framing
is that if you control the language of a debate, you win. Frank Luntz is brilliant at
framing issues for the Republican Party.
U.S. politicians have used Support Our Troops as a phrase to gain blind support for
the war in Iraq. At the same time, the same government cut hazardous duty pay,
cut veteran’s benefits, and called back reservists using a back door draft.
There is a yellow Support Our Troops ribbon from China on many SUVs. Anyone
who dare criticize the ribbons would be called unpatriotic.
Back door draft would be an example of an anti-war frame. Extension of honorable
service would be considered a pro-war frame.
If you create an idea or campaign that is hard to dislike, or one where a mention
causes controversy, you will likely gain many links. Don’t Think of an Elephant is a
short book about framing from a liberal political perspective.
Framing, Search & SEO
For the past few years Google has had the largest search index. They boasted
about how important index size was. Yahoo! announced an index twice the size as
Google’s. Sergey Brin was quick to discredit Yahoo! stating their index had many
duplicate documents in it. Google then stopped showing their number of indexed
pages on their home page and stated that they thought relevancy was more
Many SEOs say they are ethical, which by default frames their competitors as
Before I wrote this e-book, many people stated, “you don’t want an SEO book—
they are all outdated garbage.” I used that frame to sell my e-book as “the only
current SEO book.” I also give away free updates to help readers keep up with the
market and also reinforce that marketing message.
If you read conversations in your marketplace, the market will likely grant you
many useful frames to position your business.
If you ever get sued, reflect upon how you can spin the story and market it. The
marketing value of a well-played lawsuit can be immeasurable.
I was sued by Traffic Power, and it got my site links from many newspapers,
Wired, Slashdot, and the Wall Street Journal. I never really wanted to follow
through with fighting the lawsuit, but my friends talked me into it. After all those
links started to pour in, I knew why.
The nice things about getting links from high-profile, well-trusted sites are that they
are hard to duplicate, they drive significant direct traffic, and they often lead to
many secondary links.
Seth Godin’s All Marketers are Liars is a book about how consumers lie to
themselves to justify their actions. Good marketers tell stories to match the bias
and world views of their customers.
The search phrase SEO Book was not competitive until AFTER I created this site.
I do reference ranking #1 for SEO Book as part of the sales process because it
helps tell a story, reinforces my brand, and seems like it would be a competitive
term. It also helps target my sales letter toward newer webmasters.
When people are new, they tend to be hungry and are willing to work hard to earn
a living. One time I formatted this e-book for about four hours so that a person
with poor vision could read it. I was hungry and wanted to help them.
Sometimes people who download this e-book have the page freeze up during
download, or something goes wrong in the payment processing cycle. When
problems occur, I provide customer service as quickly as possible. I never blame
the customer because technology messes up. Blaming them would leave a bad
If I provide a quick, courteous response within a couple of minutes, that is
remarkable, and means they will be more inclined to think my product is good and
say nice things about me.
One time I ordered something from a person who has been an Internet marketing
guru for about a decade. The download did not work. His support team told me
that I was all screwed up and that I needed to white list their e-mail address. Seems
to me they knew what the problem was (them getting blacklisted for being e-mail
spammers), so why blame me?
A large part of the bad reputation the Internet marketing field gets is due to
marketers working harder at marketing than at creating a relevant useful product in
the changing marketplace and following through with quality customer support.
Customer support is a large part of the story customers will tell other prospective
Another one of Seth’s books is called Purple Cow. The thesis of the book is that
things that are remarkable are worthy of being remarked upon. A link is nothing
but a citation or a remark, so if you figure out how to create ideas or products that
are remarkable, people will talk about you and the links will follow.
Semi-Official Article Names
Many people link to things using their official names. When you write an article,
you can create an article name that is somewhat keyword rich to help pick up links
with those words in the link text. After time passes and you have a few links, you
can change the title to pick up slightly different terms in the link text, or to create
an article title that is more descriptive and compelling.
Sometimes I create bizarre names to force people to mix the anchor text. For
example, when I created my keyword research tool I called it something like
“Google and Yahoo!’s Overture Suggestion Keyword Research Tool.” People
linked to it using all sorts of combinations of those keywords, and I rank in the top
10 of Google’s results for just about any keyword tool name I can imagine. After I
got a few dozen links with different anchor text combinations, I changed the name
to the “SEO Book keyword research tool.”
Keep in mind that if you are too overt with how you mix things up, someone
might call you out on the technique.
Creating Tools & Content Based on Linking Opportunities
Sometimes when doing link analysis, you come across pages that would be
appealing to get links from, but the owner may not be readily willing to link to your
current site. So create something that they would link to.
Of all the pages on the web, most of them are not overtly amazingly thoughtful or
original. With that being said, it costs next to nothing to write an article or hire an
article writer to write about a topic that could likely gain links from various trusted
or authoritative resources.
For most people, it is easier to create something worth promoting than to promote
something not worth promoting. Along those lines, it is easier to create something
people care about if you use their interests as the source of the content or idea.
If the thought or reasoning behind the article does not totally agree with you, then
it might be a good occasion to hire a guest writer.
A good example of this idea is Myriad Search, an ad-free meta search engine I
created. Within a month of launch, the site had over 1,000 links without me
buying a single link. People linked to it because it is easy to link to. In the minds of
some people, it also changed my brand from being a person who did SEO to a
person who did search. Suddenly I was able to build link reputation that would
normally be unreachable to most SEOs.
Self Reinforcing Market Positions
Once a site already ranks at the top of the search results it is more likely to be
found and read and linked at. If you are trying to catch up and beat a site that is
enjoying many self-reinforcing links, you need to try to create self-reinforcing
positions in smaller markets, go after different keywords or market segments, or
add something remarkable to your site that will make powerful webmasters want to
link at your site.
Mike Grehan explains the self reinforcing market position link conundrum in his
Filthy Linking Rich.
Tag, You’re It
Currently, most search algorithms are driven by link reputation. Eventually, search
engines will have enough user feedback data to where they will be able to augment
the links with how users tag web pages and their usage data.
If a site with exceptionally high link popularity scores rarely gets tagged, search
engines may discount the relevancy for that site or flag that site for human review.
If you are big into web marketing, I recommend creating a user account with each
of the major engines unless you are using shady search marketing techniques.
I also would recommend looking at some of the other social software tagging
websites like del.icio.us. Pages that are heavily tagged today stand a good chance of
being pages that are frequently cited on websites tomorrow.
If you track what types of information people are tagging, then that may help you
sculpt a few good ideas you could launch, which may provide you with free, viral
Also note that things people tag or mention on their sites
Are typically hard links for competitors to obtain or compete with
May lead to secondary links and media coverage
Are links that will likely provide much more pull than links from fairly
static directory type sites
Tracking how ideas spread can also help you see market opportunities and find the
people most likely to help you spread your idea.
Over the last year, Google has gotten much better at detecting link exchanges and
giving them no weight or negative weight. Typically for most savvy webmasters,
the time wasted on a lavish link exchange program would be better spent creating
useful, original, link-worthy content.
Trading links with a couple exceptionally relevant related resources might be a
good idea, but don’t waste your time trading dozens or hundreds of links.
Does it Work?
Not as well as it once did. Many people who created SEO software, or
information products that sold themselves as experts, found that their Google
rankings tanked hard core because link exchanges are not all they were once
cracked up to be.
If you go too far off topic with your link exchanges, at best it is an opportunity cost
waste that will have limited upside on your Google rankings. At worst, it can waste
your time and put you in spammy web communities that actually cause your site to
rank far worse than it would if you stayed away from the spammy link networks.
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested