I’ve just had one of the busiest weeks of my life. My email was being bombarded and my phone was ringing off the hook. Luckily I have some very specific email filters, and a well crafted answering machine message. For some reason, clients were coming in from all directions; which I’m definitely not complaining about, it just was way more than the usual flow. With the Recent Panda 3.3 Google Update, all of their rankings seemed to drop simultaneously and they were all drawn in my direction.
*Note: These were not my current clients, but were people who I’d talk to in the past who had decided to go with another SEO provider.*
What is a Private Blog Network?
Also referred to as a Link Network, these are essentially a web of websites (poor phrasing, I’m aware) that have a high authority with Google and all can be edited by the same person, who usually owns the network. Sometimes these networks would be hundreds or thousands of sites large. When the Private Blog Network Owner brought on a new client, they could immediately post tons of high quality links, and would quickly raise the rankings of their clients in these markets. A few days ago, a client referred to these networks as the “cheater” SEO technique, which I don’t believe could be phrased any better. Sadly, they worked quite well; with the one exception that all SEO’s have known about for years. They left a footprint.
What’s a Footprint?
Google tracks where links are coming from, and what sites point to what other sites. When they see the same set of sites pointing at the same set of other sites, a few red flags are raised in the system. Basically if Site A has 200 of the same links as Site B, and they’re all perfectly anchor texted; that doesn’t appear natural, which is one of the main goals of SEO. What happened with Panda 3.3, was they took all of the linking sites, and removed them from the Google Index. That means all of that authority and all of the “quality” links that were pointing at a website disappeared in an instant. Backlinks are a huge factor in SEO, so when a huge chunk of them disappear, your rankings will drop significantly.
(sticking with the theme)
What is Anchor Text?
When you see a link that says “click here,” and it takes you to Website A, that link is using the anchor text “click here.” If a link is using the anchor text “Buffalo Web Design,” Google will associate that site with that keyword. Anchor texting is a great way to leverage high quality links, as they seem to count two-fold. What doesn’t look natural though is when a site has 100 links pointing at their home page, and 99 of those links are all using the same anchor text. Some SEO’s will vary their anchor texting, but usually that involves using 5-6 variations per page.
When I do anchor texting, I have a couple dozen that I’ll use per page. These keeps things looking a lot more normal, because if people are going to link to a website, it’s highly unlikely they’re all going to do the same thing. In the Buffalo Web Design example, I would use that keyword, along with Buffalo New York Web Design, Buffalo Websites, Web Developer, WNY Web Designer, Need a Website?, Click Here, Check Out My Site Now, and plenty more. Having the random anchor texts make it a lot more effective, especially the ones that have nothing to do with your site like “click here.”
When doing link building, do it naturally. Take the manual approach. It takes longer and may cost more time/money, but it provides long lasting results. Taking the easy way in SEO is only good for the short term, and not worth it in the long run. And be sure to keep that anchor text varied. Think about if thousands of people linked to a website, and what they would type.
Thanks. ~Ryan England – Executive SEO