Search Engine Ranking: Anchor Text is Key!
|by John Schwartz
Try an Experiment
If you have a web site, try this experiment when you have
some spare time. Pick a nonsense phrase, like "bed
happy meatball" or anything equally silly. Make sure
it's something very unlikely to appear on a web page
anywhere, and make sure it's a phrase (not a single word).
Also, make sure it does not appear on your own site.
Next, get a few friends or co-workers with web sites of
their own to post a link to your site using that exact
phrase (without the quotation marks) as the anchor text.
What's anchor text, you ask? It's simply the word or words
that form the clickable part of a link.
Now, wait a while. Make a note to yourself to check your
web site's ranking in the results for a search of your
chosen nonsense phrase at a major search engine in a month
or two. Unless you picked a phrase that actually appears
on other sites, you'll find that your site is #1!
Moreover, that's in spite of the fact that the chosen
phrase does not appear anywhere on your actual web site.
Think about that.
An infamous, large-scale example of this same test
involved the phrase "miserable failure." Some
enterprising bloggers got together a few years ago and
decided to link lots of sites to the official biography
page for President George W. Bush at the whitehouse.gov
site. The goal, of course, was to make that page show up
in the #1 position whenever unsuspecting (or in this case,
many suspecting) searchers typed in that phrase. It
worked. (Side note: at last check, Michael Moore - famous
film maker and Bush detractor, was in the #2 position at
Google for this same search). Again, keep in mind that the
phrase "miserable failure" does not appear
anywhere on either man's web site.
Is There a Point?
OK, so why bother with this seemingly asinine experiment
(that's actually been dubbed 'Googlebombing')? Ahh,
Grasshopper, for the lesson it imparts. Which is? Well, it
points to the power of anchor text in determining search
engine ranking. And it has definite relevance to your
activities as a webmaster.
Many of your fellow site owners - including a lot of them
who run sites in direct competition with yours - have
never heard of anchor text. Some of you reading this may
be unfamiliar with it. But, as should be clear now, anchor
text plays a major role in search engine ranking
In basic terms, it works like this...
Search engines rely on links to help them ascertain both
the theme of a given web site and its popularity. Knowing
that, consider two scenarios. In the first, your site has
built up a lot of links pointing to it, and each one has
your domain name as the clickable part of the link (anchor
text). Let's say your domain name is your company's name,
JoeSmithBakery.com - and you sell baking supplies. OK,
great - now your site will show up in the #1 position at
the search engines whenever anyone searches for your
domain name! Hmm. Think that one through. If they know
your domain name, why would they need a search engine to
In the second scenario, you have lots of links pointing to
your bakery site, but instead of the domain name as the
anchor text, you wisely chose a phrase that lots of people
search for, like 'baking supplies.'
Easy question: which would you prefer - being #1 at Google
when people search for your domain name or being #1 when
people search for bakery supplies? This is why the anchor
text you choose for the links you build is so important.
A Plan of Action
Now, here's a simple plan of action to improve your site's
link situation and search engine ranking going forward
from this day...
Step 1 - Research Keywords
A great service is provided by the folks at
wordtracker.com. They catalog search activity at the major
engines, and then make available those numbers to the
general public. You simply type in a word or phrase
related to your site's theme, and wordtracker shows you
the number of times that entry is being searched at the
major search engines. Cool, huh? The service will also
give you a list of related terms, so you can look for
other important search words to target.
Step 2 - Pick a Few and Get Some
Compile a list of several search terms that are most
closely related to your site's theme and that get searched
for often. It's up to you, of course, but you should pick
those phrases that get a few hundred to several thousand
searches. These will be the terms you use in the anchor
text of the inbound links you build from now on. Doing so
will really increase your site's search engine traffic -
once all your new links begin to boost your rankings.
Nothing Else Changes
Now, just carry on with your usual link building
activities: reciprocal links, one-way links from
directories and article distributions, etc. The only
change is to make sure you choose a phrase from your list
to use as the clickable part of the link you ask for (the
anchor text). If you rotate your choices, your site will
move up in the rankings for each phrase. The only downside
is that you'll be getting fewer links per phrase, so it
may take longer for any single phrase to rank high.
Keep in mind that the phrases you pick will be popular,
unlike those in the examples that began this article. To
score high rankings, you'll need to be diligent and get
lots of links. Never stop! Over time, this strategy will
really help your site's traffic, but it does take time. As
the famous poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, famously
wrote: "All good things come to those who wait."
ę John Schwartz http://www.web-article-writer.com
(all rights reserved)
the Author: John Schwartz is the owner of Web-Article-Writer.com
- specializing in professionally written web
site content and articles. Our goal is to help
web site traffic through links from related sites
and higher search engine rankings.
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