The Search Engine-Friendly Way to Use Hyperlinks

L is for LinksReaders: During the last year, I have gotten “virtually” acquainted with SEO specialist, Matt Morgan.

I love the way Matt simplifies a topic that is challenging for most of us. Today, Matt tackles a question many of my readers ask about:

When you embed a hyperlink in a blog post or in any web content, should the anchor text for that link include the phrase, “Click here?” 

Matt’s answer may surprise you!


By Matt Morgan

Guest Columnist

Website trends, blogging best practices, search engine optimization, and the internet itself evolves so quickly, it’s important to review your current initiatives and strategies as frequently as possible. This article can serve as an updated hyper linking strategy for 2013.

If you currently blog to promote a product/service or are considering blogging as part of your online marketing strategy, this is a must-read. When writing a blog article, it is common to hyperlink to another website from within your blog post. It’s a great way to link out to a resource, give credit to another blogger, as well as increase your search engine rankings. However, certain hyperlinks can actually hurt your website’s search engine rankings.

Enter URL in WordPress

Increasing your search engine rankings with backlinks

As an owner of an SEO company, I’ve recognized that link building is responsible for 70% of a web page’s rank or position in the search engines. Basically, a web page is ranked by Google based on the number of hyperlinks from other websites that point to that web page.

The quality of those links is also a major factor. Links coming from high-quality websites will provide much more weight, or “link juice,” than links from low-quality, or “spammy” websites.

Link building

Bloggers and SEO companies know that link building is a very effective strategy to increase search engine rankings for targeted key phrases. If a web page has lots of links pointing to it with the targeted key phrase as the “anchor text,” then the search engines will assume that web page is relevant to that term and display the web page in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Backlinks

What is anchor text?

The visible text in a hyperlink is called “anchor text.” For example: I want my company website to rank for the key phrase website optimization, so I will try to get as many links pointing to my site with that exact anchor text.

Anchor text: Click here

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines

You might have heard of guest blogging as a link-building strategy. I enjoy blogging on my own website, but when I offer my blog to another website, like BloggingBistro.com, it’s considered a guest blog post.

The guest blogger’s content provides valuable tips for the readers, keeps the blog fresh, and in return, the guest blogger can obtain a link to their site with “anchor text” that matches the key phrase they are trying to rank for in the search engines.

Google has recognized that SEO companies are guest blogging with the intention to manipulate the search engine rankings with exact match anchor text backlinks. This tactic violates Google’s webmaster guidelines.

In an effort to reduce the amount of web spam, Google released the Penguin algorithm update in April of 2012. The Penguin algorithm seeks out websites that have a massive amount of backlinks with the exact match anchor text and can penalize the website, sometimes removing it completely from the search index. Ouch.

Google Penguin algorithm update

What does this mean for guest blogging as a link-building strategy?

Guest blogging is still a viable and effective link-building strategy. You can still build links that point to your site with anchor text matching your targeted key phrases.

However, the trick is to keep your backlink profile diverse. You will want to make sure that less than 50% of your backlinks have exact match anchor text with the targeted key phrase. When you are blogging and building links, try to create a natural backlink profile by varying the anchor text in your links.

Guest blogging

Here are a few examples of the types of anchor text you can use as an alternative to your exact match phrase that will help diversify your backlink profile:

  • Use a variation of your targeted key phrase
  • Hyperlink your company name (this will help with your branding too)
  • Hyperlink the full web address URL instead of using anchor text
  • Use calls-to-action (ie. Click here, Visit my blog, or Learn more)

You might have also read tips that discourage the use of “click here” or “read more” as they do nothing to increase your rankings. Search engine algorithms change daily. As of the date I am writing this article, it is recommended by the Google team to use those phrases. It’s the natural way to hyperlink.

Google will still credit your site and pass pagerank for links with that anchor text. Of course, you want to focus on getting quality backlinks with your key phrases in the anchor text, but keep it diverse with the alternatives listed above.

Who should be worried about a Penguin link penalty

If your blog or website is pretty small and you are still building your readership, you do not need to stress about your backlink profile. I hope I haven’t scared you 🙂 Focus on your targeted key phrases.

Popular websites and blogs that get a lot of traffic should be aware of the Penguin algorithm and ensure their backlink profiles are diverse. Chances are, companies that have a huge following have hired an SEO company or are guest blogging in an effort to increase their search engine rankings for specific key phrases. If your website has thousands of backlinks, then it’s time to review your backlink profile and ensure it is diverse.

Reviewing your backlink profile

There are many online tools available to review a website backlink profile. My favorite is the Open Site Explorer by SEOmoz. With this tool you can review all of the links that point to your website and it will show the anchor text for each link. I could go into serious detail about backlink profiles and tools, but we’ll leave that for another blog article.

SEOmoz Open Site Explorer

Do you have a question about SEO?

Post your question pertaining to search engine optimization in the comments or email it to Blogging Bistro and we’ll address it in a future article.


Matt Morgan is the founder and CEO of Optimize Worldwide, a web design & SEO company based out of Northern California. Matt writes for numerous SEO blogs offering tips to help companies gain more online visibility in the major search engines through post panda/penguin website optimization, content marketing, and creative link building strategies. Offline Matt enjoys enduro motocross riding, networking with like minds, and hanging out with his wife Holly.

  • This was a helpful article- I had been wondering about that. And it’s kind of comforting to note that the Penguin algorhithm works to fight spam content!

  • This was a helpful article- I had been wondering about that. And it’s kind of comforting to note that the Penguin algorhithm works to fight spam content!

  • I read Matt’s article several times and each time I glean something new. I love the way he helps me make sense of SEO.

  • I read Matt’s article several times and each time I glean something new. I love the way he helps me make sense of SEO.

  • Thanks Jennifer, I’m glad you enjoyed it. It is refreshing to know that Google is doing their part to clean up the web.

  • Thanks Jennifer, I’m glad you enjoyed it. It is refreshing to know that Google is doing their part to clean up the web.

  • Kevin Murtha

    I actively try to use anchor text throughout all my sites. It is very effective but I wasn’t sure exactly how it worked. Thanks for the post and great content!

  • Kevin Murtha

    I actively try to use anchor text throughout all my sites. It is very effective but I wasn’t sure exactly how it worked. Thanks for the post and great content!

  • Matt! Thanks for the information and a great post! It seems I’ve been told incorrectly, by those who’ve attempted to teach me SEO, the wrong way to backlink. Apparently, they weren’t aware of the Google release of the Penguin algorithm update in April of 2012. I was taught to ALWAYS use my blog name as a backlink, and if I felt I just couldn’t, to NEVER backlink with “click here”. Thanks so much Matt, for showing us the proper way to backlink, giving us examples! I will take your advice! God bless and take care, krissy knox 🙂

  • Matt! Thanks for the information and a great post! It seems I’ve been told incorrectly, by those who’ve attempted to teach me SEO, the wrong way to backlink. Apparently, they weren’t aware of the Google release of the Penguin algorithm update in April of 2012. I was taught to ALWAYS use my blog name as a backlink, and if I felt I just couldn’t, to NEVER backlink with “click here”. Thanks so much Matt, for showing us the proper way to backlink, giving us examples! I will take your advice! God bless and take care, krissy knox 🙂

  • Krissy, I thought that, too, until Matt set me straight. I never used “click here” and I advised people not to use it. It’s nice to know I now have the freedom to incorporate a variety of anchor text into my links. Mix it up!

  • Krissy, I thought that, too, until Matt set me straight. I never used “click here” and I advised people not to use it. It’s nice to know I now have the freedom to incorporate a variety of anchor text into my links. Mix it up!

  • Matt explained it beautifully, didn’t he Kevin? Thanks for commenting.

  • Matt explained it beautifully, didn’t he Kevin? Thanks for commenting.

  • Thank Krissy. SEO is definitely a moving target and bloggers often get dinged mistakenly. There were 37 major algorithms released last year by Google. Look at the list here: http://www.seomoz.org/google-algorithm-change#2012

  • Thank Krissy. SEO is definitely a moving target and bloggers often get dinged mistakenly. There were 37 major algorithms released last year by Google. Look at the list here: http://www.seomoz.org/google-algorithm-change#2012

  • @laurachristianson:disqus Thanks for the advice! I must remember to “mix it up!” as you say. 🙂 Yes, we should be looking at a variety of ways to incorporate anchor test into our links. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

  • @laurachristianson:disqus Thanks for the advice! I must remember to “mix it up!” as you say. 🙂 Yes, we should be looking at a variety of ways to incorporate anchor test into our links. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

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