anchor (Photo credit: Tom Gill.)
With all the recent updates from Google, watching your link profile should be high on your priority list. Google’s SEO Toolset can help you review your profile and spot problems. (Yes, this might be nerve-racking if you haven’t done it yet, but press on—your SEO depends on it.)
Link profile changes
Most sites that have been around for at least a few years have typically contracted with more than one outside agency or consultant to build links. Back in the day, it was somewhat “accepted” practice for these agents to buy links, reciprocate links, and find whatever other way available to accelerate the number of inbound links.
Now, the game has changed. Google considers paid links to be bad for users and bad for the algorithm. The algorithm is intended to reward the best content that addresses user intent. Links help improve rank since they are “votes of confidence” from the web community, but paid links are considered a shortcut and are categorized as “unnatural.”
Bing and Google are creating tools that will allow website owners to disavow the unnatural (paid) links listed in Webmaster profiles. Disavowing means you are not recognizing those links, and you are instructing search engines to do the same by not considering or counting them toward your web properties.
But wait, there’s more…
Anchor text evolution
Previously, most links were created with a keyword as the anchor text—it was considered a best practice within search engine guidelines. Now, having all of your link profile filled with keywords as anchor text is considered unnatural, and Google is looking for a variety of anchor text in your links.
So why did Google do this?
Google is taking this particular action because it’s easier for spammers and automated marketers to create identical links than it is to create a variety of links that make sense contextually. In short, they are making people work harder in order to separate out the black-hat marketers.
There’s time to fix it
Most of the link profile and anchor text issues are fixable, and search engines are giving people time to right the ship so they can get within accepted practices. The good news is once you fix it, it’s done, and you do things the right way moving forward. This is the new normal, folks.