Back in the day of black-hat SEO techniques, there were many who tried to increase search rankings by using the same anchor text for backlinks. The hope was that Google would see links from this anchor text and rank the site higher for that keyword phrase. Thanks to Google’s advanced algorithms, the complete opposite now happens.
I recently read an article about link diversity and why it is important to vary your incoming links. “Google isn’t stupid,” writes the author, “and neither is its algorithm. If you build links from one specific anchor, be prepared to be penalized.”
Building links from the same anchor text may rank you quickly, but it will ultimately lead to a penalty. Many webmasters first discovered this when Google Panda was introduced.
“Websites that saw their search rankings tumble had a money keyword for anchor text in 65 percent or more of their inbound links,” documents Search Engine Watch, in an article about anchor text diversity.
So how do you vary your anchor text in order to obtain link diversity? Here are some common methods.
Vary Exact Match Anchor Text
Exact match anchor text is what we are trying to avoid in order to obtain link diversity. You should still use exact match anchor text, but vary it so that it covers LSI keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing) as well. Here is an example:
Let’s say you want to link to the term “real estate license.” Here are some variations that you should also link to in order to obtain diversity.
“real estate license advice”
“obtain a real estate license”
“real estate license requirements”
Notice that they all have the term “real estate license” but they are all different as they include additional words. Google will know that the link is about “real estate license” and will also help you rank for the variations.
If you are not already familiar with LSI keywords, I would advise you start to read up on them. As a standard practice, I recommend using your main keyword phrase and then also linking from the various LSI keywords that Google recognizes.
Use Long-Tail Keywords
A study posted by WordStream on long tail anchor text shows that 56 percent of people use queries in Google with three or more words. That means people are searching for your money keyword, but they are also adding their unique spin on it, trying to narrow down search results.
Here is what I mean. Let’s take the term “real estate license” again.
Most people are not going to search for the term “real estate license.” Instead, they are going to search for what is important to them. Here are some examples of actual searches related to this term:
“how to obtain a real estate license in California”
“what is the requirement to obtain a real estate license in Florida?”
“real estate license course online”
All of the above would be considered long-tail keyword phrases. Why do they work?
People will come to your site if it has the information related to the query. The longer the stay, the more Google will know it is important to that phrase. Google will also recognize the other links to that page from exact match anchor text and put everything together for a higher search ranking.
Long-tail anchors also give you another backlink to your site and the number of links coming in factors into your ranking. It also shows Google that people are linking to you from similar (but not the exact) anchor text so it shows natural link building which is what Google wants.
Link Branded Keywords to Posts, not your Homepage
This one is simple so I will keep it short.
There are many websites that link from branded names and you should as well. Your website name should be used as the anchor and the link should be the information specific to the content it is linking from (not just a homepage link which is something you should avoid).
The above screenshot is an article in Entrepreneur. The link does NOT go to the homepage of USA Today, but rather to the article it discusses in the content. This is the same way I linked to Entrepreneur in the opening sentence of this paragraph.
Final Thoughts on Keywords and Link Diversity
Do NOT abandon your money keywords. Keywords are still a main ingredient of link diversity and without them Google will not know what to rank you for. The point of link diversity is not to use the same anchor text each and every time.
Link diversity shows Google that people are linking to you naturally. All websites are not going to link to you in the same way and having varied anchor text shows this to Google.
What has been your experience with link diversity? Do you vary anchor text? I would love to hear more about your methods in the comments below.
Brian Horvath is a freelance writer from Michigan and founder of MyBusinessTalk. He is a journalism graduate and a regular contributor to numerous online magazines and journals.