Linkbuilding is one of the most important elements of any successful SEO strategy. Google takes a number of factors into consideration when analyzing your link profile, including the domain authority of sites and the anchor text used in the link. Most companies used to focus primarily on generating backlinks with their target keyword in the anchor texts. However, Google has since changed its algorithm to encourage companies to work on building branded links instead.
Google is constantly improving its algorithm to thwart spammers. It’s algorithm was originally based off of a concept called Pagerank, which was an algorithm used to measure the volume of links referring to a website. Incoming links were weighted according to the number of backlinks to the pages they originated from. The Pagerank concept was an innovative approach to minimize the effectiveness of keyword stuffing, but the engineers at Google soon discovered that spammers were using unscrupulous tactics to boost their pagerank.
Google tried to deal with spam by introducing new variables to determine relevance of incoming links. They began paying close attention to the anchor text of inbound links to determine the relevancy for specific keywords. For example, a company that had many incoming links containing the phrase “Boston plumber” would be more likely to rank for that keyphrase. The new approach wasn’t highly effective at stopping link spam, because many website owners caught on and started manipulating their rankings with anchored backlinks.
Matt Cutts and his webspam team at Google realized that they needed to continually update their algorithm to stay ahead of spammers. They have changed the focus of different variables over time to discourage these manipulative tactics. The newest algorithm update rewards companies that build high quality, branded backlinks.
Branded backlinks use a company’s name as in the anchor text. Branded links have become much more important in 2014. Using branded links is a great way to build links for small businesses. Here are several things that website owners should be aware of.
New Patent Application Suggests Focus on Branded Links
Google filed a new patent application in March. The new application suggests that Google is going to change its focus towards branded links.
Popular Content Farms Still Rank Well
You have probably noticed that many content farms still rank well, even though most of their content is total garbage. Bill Slawski, the editor at SEO by the Sea, has a theory about this. Slawski said that many of these sites have numerous backlinks with their brand name used as the anchor text. Despite having low quality content, they are still ranking well due to their strong brand. Content farms with fewer brand mentions seem to be suffering much worse.
Statements from Matt Cutts
Matt Cutts is the head of Google’s webspam team, so most SEO professionals listen intently to everything that he says. Earlier this year, Cutts said that guest blogging was a bad SEO strategy. He said that the process has become very spammy, so people should avoid using it to avoid being penalized.
However, Cutts’s statement did contain a couple of caveats. He said that website owners should still be willing to accept guest posts from people that they know. Cutts said that guest blogging remains a good way to build your brand reputation. While he suggested that companies use the no-follow link attribute, he did say that it is worthwhile to take guest posts from people that the website owner can vouch for. His statement indicates that guest blogging can still be an acceptable way to build backlinks, but it should be done prudently and the focus should be on establishing a brand rather than using spammy anchored links.
You need to execute your backlinking strategy carefully to minimize the risk of a Google penalty. Here are some reasons that is safer to use branded links:
Building lots of anchored backlinks used to be a very effective way to boost your SEO rankings. Unfortunately, the process is no longer safe, so it is best to focus more towards using your company’s name instead.
However, it still important to be careful not to overuse your company name. Overusing the same anchor text is still likely to trigger a penalty. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Google has changed its algorithm significantly this past year. Start shifting your linkbuilding strategy to focus on building branded backlinks. You may also want to consider changing the anchor texts of any backlinks that your site has already earned to avoid a future penalty.