Google wants to see natural links on websites, which is all well and good, but what does that mean in practice and how to do you make sure your link building strategy doesn't result in a Google penalty?
It used to be common SEO practice to make sure that all links on a website included keywords, however as a technique that has been widely used and indeed abused in the past, Google is now keen to see more naturalistic links on websites and that means greater link diversity as well as using a combination of both "follow" and "nofollow" links.
There are two main components to consider in terms of link diversity which cover the anchor text used for a link and the follow method used.
What is Anchor Text Diversity?
Anchor text refers to the words that are used to describe or signify a link on a page for example, epic widgets.
The HTML code looks like this:
Using the anchor text "epic widgets" to link to a page about epic widgets makes perfect sense and Google is unlikely to penalise you for it, however, the problem arises when webmasters try to manipulate their anchor text and overuse keywords. This typically results in a high frequency of repetition so you end up with unnatural content that Google will flag up, like this:
Reducing frequency, repetition and introducing greater anchor diversity will help your content appear more natural to Google, so you end up with content, like this:
Follow Versus No Follow Links
In a nutshell, Google wants to see a good mixture of both follow and no follow links on any given website. Too many of one the other will look unnatural and could result in your site being flagged and penalised. In order to assess links, Google uses PageRank that calculates link points, or 'Google juice'
PageRank is a measurement used by Google
to determine the popularity of websites
On most websites, links are by default follow links*, unless you add a piece of no follow code to your link; epic widgets.
No follow links aren't counted as a point in the favour of a page and as such, does not improve PageRank. It's a way of telling Google that you might be linking to a certain site, but that you don't want your Google Juice passing on to that site. This might be the case when it comes to blog comments where commenters are able to link to their own website in the comments or when you are linking through to sources that are perhaps unrelated or of questionable quality.
- Don't over optimise your anchor text with keywords
- "nofollow" links still provide referral traffic and help provide your site with a more natural profile
- Don't repeat exact match keywords in your anchor text
- You can still use keywords in your anchor text but vary linking patterns
- Use a combination of both follow and no follow links on your website
*Some platforms such as WordPress automatically assign all links as "nofollow."