In this video I discuss:
- An essential (but brief) background on search engine algorithms & how they affect linkbuilding
- How relevance plays a big role in today’s backlink efficacy
- How to avoid anchor text over optimization so that your site never gets punished
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A1.2 Understanding Search Engine Algorithms & NOT Getting Punished Transcript Below
So, let’s get into a brief history on understanding search engine algorithms. We’re not going to go through all the phases or all the algorithms, just the one that pertains most closely to backlinks and how to not get punished – kind of important when you’re following a backlink strategy, when you’re kind of taking on this outreach campaign with the intention of getting backlinks.
The bare minimum, the foundation you need for search engine algorithms is that for years now… I mean we’re talking close to 20 years now (at least 15). We focus so heavily on Google because they get something like 70-80% of searchers, worldwide. We focus on Google because they’re the best and they’re the hardest to crack. So, just a little bit of background there.
They have been, and all other search engines have been heavily “link dependent”. That is what they’re most dependent on to calculate their rankings.
If you think about it, that makes sense, right? Because what better to indicate quality than a link? It’s hard to game and it can send all kinds of ranking signals, especially with how advanced the algorithms have become these days.
Back in the day (pre-2012), getting a lot of links… so, if you got a really high quantity of backlinks, especially if they all had your keyword in the link, in the anchor text, that meant you got high rankings. That was the game.
If you could hire a team out of India, or the middle east, or somewhere else for really, really cheap, you could just build links for months on end. And your rankings would slowly go up and up and up. And then you get up into 20,000, 30,000 links and you were making great money.
When you got more links, you got higher rankings. That wasn’t even considered black-hat or gray-hat. That was just how you got ranked. It’s what you did.
If you want to get ranked, this whole time, Google was saying: “focus on your content, focus on your content, don’t build links, focus on your content, we’ll take care of the rankings.” People could only hear that for so many years before they decided: “okay, we’re going to take matters into our own hands” – and so they started building links.
And then, this fun thing called “Penguin” came around. It’s one of Google’s several search engine algorithms. They have Rank Brain, they have Humming Bird, they have Panda, and they have Penguin. They’re constantly rolling out new ones, but the focus of Penguin, mainly, was link quality.
Especially when Penguin 2.0 hit, which I want to say was… it was May 2012. I want to say it was like May 21st or 22nd, 2012. I remember it so distinctly because it crushed my business in a lot of ways. It didn’t put me totally out of business, but it hurt a lot. It was very painful. Because, again, that’s just how you got rankings. So, since Penguin was introduced, it’s no longer that easy – long story short.
Now link relevance and link authority. The authority of the page that is linking to your page, to your website play a much bigger role. If that doesn’t mean anything to you right now, don’t worry, we’re going to get into it in-depth when we start looking at links. But we’re going to skim over it for now and come back to it later.
One of the biggest things that took place when Penguin, especially when Penguin 2.0 rolled out, and there have been multiple alterations and updates, and refreshes to Penguins since then… The thing you had to be most careful of as of Penguin is your anchor text profile because, used to, when we built all these hundreds and thousands of links to our websites, we would just use the keywords that we were trying to rank for as our anchor text.
Just in case you don’t know, you probably do because I’ve explained it in the other advanced training, anchor text is what I’ve demonstrated there in the slide.
Whatever words are used for the link, so if you can click those words, that is the anchor text – just what it’s referred to as, it’s the industry term.
Now you have to be really, really careful with your anchor text profile because it’s incredibly potent. There is nothing more powerful than a link with exact match anchor text.
Exact match anchor text means the anchor text of your link matches the exact target keyword you’re trying to rank for, or it’s contained in there somewhere.
Obviously, because that’s most powerful, it’s the thing most people try to abuse the most. And as a result, it’s something that Google has focused on very specifically and pinpointed as a way to find people that are trying to game the system.
So, what does this mean to you? It mans that it’s something you should be very careful of abusing.
Before I say this, I want to preface it with you’re really not going to have to worry about this too much when you’re following the Skyscraper technique because the website owner is probably going to determine your anchor text.
If they set the anchor text in a way that you feel is a little too dangerous, you can always email them. But it really shouldn’t be an issue because someone else is in control of this. You’re not choosing the anchor text yourself. So, it should kind of organically happen. You should get a diversified non-abusive anchor text profile naturally following a lot of these techniques.
Typically, what you want is you want to use either a branded anchor text. Meaning for StoppingScams that would be StoppingScams (one word), Stopping Scams (as two words), use the domain name (StoppingScams.com), just use that as the anchor text. The naked URL (https://stoppingscams.com), and if it were a specific page, it would have /(whatever the page was, whatever URL slug was for that page) – so that’s what a naked URL is, when you hear that term. It’s just what you would type in to your web browser as the link. The page title, the title of the article, or the post, or the page on your website.
What we’re going to be looking at later in this section is a post – it’s called something like: 60 free ways to promote your website or something like that. So, if that’s the title of the page, you would title it “60 Free Ways to to Promote Your Website” – that would be your anchor text, and that’s okay.
Often, those are going to contain your keywords, so they are a little bit more powerful. And as a result, it’s going to look unnatural if you get a ton of them. Like, if your anchor text profile is really skewed towards something that contains the keyword.
You want to keep an eye on it. But again, it’s not something you’re going to really have to worry about when you aren’t choosing the anchor text yourself. The website owners you’re reaching out to that are putting the link on their website are going to be worrying about that and doing that.
You want to use those things as your anchor text, 90-95% of the time. There’s only going to be 1 out of every 10 to 1 out of, I guess about, every 20 keywords that is going to be an exact match anchor text link. Something that matches your target keyword perfectly.
That’s, basically, it. We’ll talk a little bit more about relevance and more about quality of links, the authority of the site that is linking to you later in this section, in great detail.
Right now, this is what you need to know: don’t abuse your anchor text profile. The way you do that is you use branded domain, naked URL, and page title as your anchor text whenever you’re linking out. Again, it’s not something you really need to worry about when other website owners are determining the anchor text for you, but you need to know it.
And the other thing is: make sure they’re highly relevant and highly authoritative. Go for quality over quantity – and we’ll dig into exactly what that means later.
This is how you build links white-hat without getting punished, without getting penalized. If you do this and you follow this strictly, you’ll be okay.
I don’t want to say this is playing with fire because that has such a negative connotation, but it can burn you. We’re not playing with fire because, like I said, this isn’t considered black-hat or gray-hat. Unless you talked to some really conservative SEOs that, I’d say, personally, kind of out of touch.
This is kind of a community outreach and community connection campaign, just as much as it is anything else. Don’t look at it as something extreme or dangerous, but do know that it’s very powerful. And as a result, Google has a close eye on it. And if you don’t follow this training very closely, you could end up getting burned.
So, just keep that in mind. That shouldn’t deter you from it. It’s something that you should absolutely spend some time on if you’ve got it in you. You’re going to have the perfect training for it and a done for you template. I strongly recommend it because it can, like I said, significantly reduce your time to success.
So, that’s it for this lesson. Don’t get punished by the search engines, and a brief understanding of how backlinking used to work and why it was penalized. So that you understand: “hey, that’s not how we build backlinks anymore. We don’t build a bunch of comment backlinks, a bunch of forum backlinks, a bunch of low-quality links across directories and all different kinds of things. We only want high-quality backlinks.” We’ll talk about that in great detail later.
As always, if you have questions, feel free to write them down, post them to the Facebook group. Let us know and we’ll get a good dialogue going there.
But if not, I’ll see you either in the Facebook group or I’ll see you in the next lesson.