Inserting hyperlinks in web text has become second nature to most of us who write for the web. We jump to pages in our websites and share stuff trying to get people to our homepage. Well, just recently I found out I was accidentally missing the boat on SEO based on how I was hyperlinking in articles, author’s boxes and more. I had violated the cardinal rule number one for Search Engine Optimization from body copy and keyword optimization. I failed to optimize my anchor text for SEO. I felt like an idiot, but no worries, it is completely correctable going forward. Here’s how to make sure you don’t make the same mistake.
Reason You Link
There are two reasons we link text. The first is known worldwide and is the most obvious—to get someone to another location on the Internet! We link to help readers navigate. I’ve done this for years, using directive phrases that link to other pages like click here, read more, and go to full article. When we write for our reader’s pleasure and comfort this works out great.
Yet in recent years we have heard of another purpose in writing, and that is writing for SEO or search engine optimization. This has also been referred to as writing for Google, and is a key element of Search Engine Marketing (SEM). You know that writing for Google means testing out keywords in Google search and using their Adwords Tool to see what keyword phrases are both popular and, if you’re lucky, not under great demand. Now here’s the little trick that made me cough up a fur ball a few days ago when Skyping with my SEO advisor in Pakistan.
SEO of Hyperlinks
To this point, my primary concern with hyperlinks in my text was that they worked. No one likes to serve up a dead link. Copy/paste allows for few spelling errors and testing is easy once the link is live. The actual text of the hyperlink, the anchor text, was secondary to me, and I wrote for the reader’s ease of use, so the words linked were what felt right at the time. Consequently, I had a lot of the click here and read on link variety as well as more meaningful phrases like mastermind groups, text linking, video marketing, and hyperlinking rules.
Then SEO guy tells me that for all the content I have on the Internet when my name is searched, or my company name, that Google has an incredibly finite list of backlinks to my site. What the he&^? There should be thousands and thousands, but there were much fewer. And what’s worse, of those backlinks, many were, as he put it, doing me no good at all from an SEO standpoint. Now I’m furious and a little defensive. “Why?” I ask a little too loud for the headset mic.
Because I had no concern for anchor text. I wrote for navigability and took my eye off the SEO ball, which was easy to do because, to me, the ball was invisible regarding anchor text. You see, Google and other search engines scan the web and the anchor text of a link helps them determine underlying page content. When the anchor text is representative of underlying content AND still fits in with the page content (it’s readable)—BINGO! You win a prize. Google gets confused and pretty much ignores click here and read on for SEO purposes, unless your read on links to a page about reading on your back, your side, or a hammock.
So what does that mean for you, small business entrepreneur, article marketer and blogger? It means make sure that your anchor text are keywords and key phrases, preferably those that match your body content you are linking from, and relative to the page you are linking to. Make sense? Now the search engines see that linked page as a natural extension of the current article, bio blurb, or review. The planets are aligned and dogs and cats remain enemies. Google and the rest of the gang will now not only index that backlink in cyberspace for your site, but its relative meaning to your site page content makes your page more relevant.
Translation: better SEO and you’re on the way to page 1.