High rankings in the search engines for competitive keywords in your industry are extremely valuable. You can practically guarantee a steady stream of targeted visitors to your offer and convert that traffic into new customers for your business.
But actually getting those rankings is a completely different story.
Google continues to have significant market share in the industry. New data shows Google accounts for over two-thirds of search traffic leaving search rivals Yahoo and Bing in the dust.
Ranking for just a single keyword can have a profound impact on your business.
But search engines such as Google use complex algorithms to determine where pages rank. Aside from on-page factors including page structure and content, there are also numerous external factors that affect rankings.
Backlinks are perhaps the most significant.
Much has changed just over the last few years and a link is no longer just a link. While building links has worked well in the past to secure higher rankings, doing so now needs to be done with caution.
The Google algorithms continue to evolve and a new update, dubbed Penguin 2.0, was launched earlier this year in May as confirmed by Matt Cutts. Whereas the original Penguin update focused heavily on targeting webspam, the new update takes it a step further.
The algorithm now looks closely at the following:
Link sources: A link profile that heavily shows backlinks from a certain source (i.e., blog comments, directories, forum profiles, etc.) looks spammy and is likely to result in ranking penalties. A better approach is to diversify your link sources.
Anchor text: Google looks even closer at the anchor text of links to your pages. Keyword rich anchor text raises a huge red flag as it looks unnatural. Diversify your anchor text by including variations of the targeted keywords, your brand name, and even naked URLs.
Linkbuilding naturally creates a high level of concern for webmasters. Violating the Google Webmaster Guidelines in a deliberate attempt to manipulate your rankings could lead to ranking penalties. However, backlinks will always continue to remain an important ranking factor.
Quality and relevance matters even more now.
Before you build a single link, the first step is to examine your current links in more detail. This gives you a better view of where you currently stand and also helps with your link building campaign later on.
Let’s get started.
The ahrefs site explorer tool is completely free and allows you to view the number of backlinks your pages has and what the anchor text distribution is. Start by entering the URL you want to examine on the front page:
The graph on the following page shows a detailed overview of your links. Scroll down to the bottom and take a look at the Anchors Cloud:
This shows you the percentage of each anchor text to that page. This page from WikiHow is ranking in the top position for the phrase “train a dog” and is an example of good anchor text distribution.
Anchor text is just one factor that tells search engines what your page is about. If analysis of your anchor text shows it is heavily biased towards a single keyword, then your link building campaign should take that into account.
Likewise, if the majority of links are pointing to your homepage then you know exactly which inner pages need more links to increase their rankings. Hiring SEO services is useful in this case to speed the process up and to build a winning campaign.
This information done by performing a simple link audit is absolutely invaluable.
The impact of the Google Penguin 2.0 update is impossible to ignore. A lot has changed in link building practices and what was once effective years ago is now risky.
The key is to focus on providing value.
Content marketing, guest posting, and social media engagement are all effective marketing tactics to increase your online presence while gaining high quality backlinks. But an in depth link audit is absolutely necessary before you start a link building campaign.
Hann is a professional SEO copywriter specialising in SEO and content marketing. He currently writes for The SEO Company Australia.