Link building 2013 : It’s time to let go of anchor text

Link builders, it’s time to say goodbye to exact match anchor text links. Here some alternative tactics.

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Like the ending of Champ, it’s time to say goodbye to exact match anchor text links. Hopefully, it won’t be as emotional as the above YouTube clip.

Times have changed and you don’t have to spend your outreach hours trying to obtain links with contrived, ‘money’ anchor text terms anymore. Google is now clever enough to understand what the pages of your site are about through meta data and internal linking.

Nowadays, it’s all about building authority, not anchor text links.

I know it’s hard to let go of our industry’s collective anchor text obsession – it’s a hangover from simpler times, but I do have some replacements that will make the transition much easier. Think of the below tips as the methadone for the recovering anchor text addict.

Internal linking

Are you making the most of the assets you control? Look here before anywhere else. Internal linking and site hierarchy play a big part in rankings. Before you look for the magic bullet externally, make sure your own house is in order.

You may know which product pages are critical to your website – but does Google? Let them know through your internal linking and sitemap.

Make the product pages more appealing…

… so when people get there, they are more likely to convert. Look at some CRO case studies, find out what your customers want and give it to them. Look at Amazon’s “people who bought this also bought” technique. That’s CRO dynamite.

Is there anything you could be doing to make your website work harder?

And while you’re there, how’s the meta data looking? Is it really the best it could be? Once you’ve weaned every milligram of value out of your page, then you can start looking for external solutions.

Write optimised blog posts…

…and link to your products from there –  more relevant traffic = more sales. Think about it – in your outreach, do you think people are more likely to link to a great article with mass appeal and pretty pictures, or a product page?

Google’s message to E-Commerce clients can be a bit of an oxymoron. They say you need great content to rank, but product pages are far less likely to convert if they are swathed in text, purely for a search engine’s benefit.

This is where blogging can become a key part of your strategy. Look for the questions consumers are asking – Ubersuggest is great for this – and answer them through blog posts.

Chances are, no one will have optimised a website around long tail phrases. You can then link back to relevant product pages from within these posts.

With Ubersuggest, in ten seconds I found a phrase, “what laptop should i buy”, with a UK search volume of 1000. This is a search term which suggests clear buying intent. No e-commerce website ranks on the first page for this term – just forums and Q&A websites.

An authority website could rank for this term without building a single link. Quick win anyone? Build that resource and give the people what they want.

Diversify your Content – Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose

If you identify search terms with big volume and with a clear buying intent, but no-one is optimised for them, why not take up 2, 3 or 4 positions on the first page? It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to write a blog post, create a slideshare, design a flowchart and produce a video well optimised around a particular search query.

And more than likely, you’ll see these results driving traffic from long tail terms you never would have thought of.

What I’m saying is, it’s time for SEOs to step outside of our silo, and look at the bigger picture. Rankings are an increasingly irrelevant metric. Always question your tactics; is pursuing a link from x website the best use of your time, or could you be doing something more effective, with potentially far greater rewards than a mere rankings increase?

Rankings are becoming a symptom of user friendly content, a by-product of awesomeness. Look beyond the norm and be the first to do something truly great – when you offer compelling content, people learn to trust your brand. And where trust grows, so do profits.

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