So, when it comes to search engine optimization, Google has evolved a lot since – We don’t know, whenever they were invented – but, one thing that’s remained true is that links are still one of the most important things that drive your website’s search engine optimization or your Google rankings.
Now, it’s not the only thing, We think it’s becoming less important, but it still is a factor, you know, I mean, there’s no – some people say 200, some people say 500 – there are hundreds of ranking factors that all get put together in this algorithm, which basically becomes something called “page rank”, it’s kind of complicated, but bottom line is that links are still one of the most effective ways to get your website to rank on the first page of Google.
So, what does that mean? the way that Google looks at links – you can almost look at it as other websites are voting for your website or are vouching for your website.
So, let me give you an example: if the New York Times links to your website, Google knows that the New York Times is an authoritative website.
It’s got lots of content, it’s got lots of, it’s got lots of links going to it, so, Google already looks at the New York Times as an authoritative website.
then, the thought process – it’s much more complicated than this, we are just trying to dumb it down a little bit – but the thought process is is that: okay, if the New York Times will link to John Smith’s website, then – New York Times is a website that, because they’ve such high authority, we know that they have done really just link to spam you websites.
So, because of that, we know that John Smith’s website has to have some sort of authority, so, we’re going to bump their page rank or their authority – as Google sees it – we’re going to bump that up a little bit, that’s essentially what it is.
Now, this happens on a lot of different levels because not everyone is going to get a link from the New York Times.
This happens, you know, all the way from the top all the way down to, you know, websites that were created yesterday, you know? Obviously, a website with less authority is going to give you less power.
So, you know, a website – a link from the New York Times can be worth more than a thousand crappy links from spammy websites or directories or things like that, and some of those websites could actually hurt you.
So, for example, one thing that happened for a long time that people still do – we have been telling people to stop doing this for a long time – is scholarship links.
EDU links were always very difficult to get because the question was: how do we get colleges to link to any website, you know? So, the thought process is that if a college, if an educational institution is going to link to your website, there’s probably some authority there, because colleges definitely are not going to be linking to spammy websites.
So, like everything, marketers ruined everything, and what they said is: okay, cool, so, what we’ll do is we’ll create scholarships, we’ll create a scholarship on our website and then we’ll contact these colleges and say: hey, we’re going to offer a scholarship to all of your students – you know, it’s a contest, obviously, not everyone is going to get a scholarship – but it’s a scholarship and you know, we’ve got all the details on our website, just throw a link on your website, and we’ll link to your website.
So, this worked really well because people were getting.
Edu links which was really the holy grail of links, but the problem is is that Google is pretty smart.
They started looking and they said, oh wait for a second, why does every law firm in Los Angeles now have a scholarship link going to it from you know every random college in the country? So, they quickly put the kibosh on that and actually, they kind of – there was an update in – so, what year are we, we’re in 2019, so, it must’ve been 2017 – called the – we think it was called the “ban hammer” websites that had scholarship links and they penalized them.
Now, there are still people that are using the scholarship links, there are still people that swear by scholarship links.
We do not do it for our clients anymore, we don’t think that that’s good, but that’s an example of how a link can be very, very important.
So, links are very important, and the website that they come from is very important.
Now, the other side of linking is the anchor text.
The anchor text is the actual words that are clicked on that take you to another page.
So, for example, something that says “Click Here”, the words – and you know, it says “Click Here” and then you click the words “Click Here” and it takes you to a page – “Click Here” is the anchor text.
Now, the way that Google used to work is that whatever that anchor text was was pretty much – basically, that’s what your website is going to rank for.
So, in the old days – I mean, I’m talking like 2006, 2007, 2008, all you had to do – like, if you were a lawyer in Baltimore – is just build 10,000 links that all have the anchor text “Baltimore Lawyer” you’ll rank – you’ll be on the top.
It was easy.
Those were like the golden days of SEO.
that’s not how it works anymore.
Now, Google has an algorithm called “Penguin” Penguin basically looks at the quality of the backlinks that are going to your website.
So, the quality of the websites that link to you it also looks at the anchor text.
So, what we try to do is we try to keep a more natural anchor text, what used to mean is that we had basically a ratio where we said: okay, we only want those keyword-style links, those “Baltimore Lawyer”, “Baltimore DUI Attorney” – we only want those links to make up maybe 10% of our entire backlink profile.
So, you know, we would have – we don’t know – 20% of the links would be the brand name, 20% would be the website URL – you know – 10% would be those exact match, and then the other ones would just be random – you know – “Click Here”, “Check This Out” website – you know – things that occur naturally, basically.
But what we started realizing is that it’s actually better to analyze the SERPs – the Search Engine Results Page – of each niche individually.
So, for example, what we would do is – let’s say, “Baltimore DUI Attorney – what we would do is we would go to Baltimore DUI Attorney And we do a backlink analysis using websites like Ahrefs and Majestic – those are usually the two that we use – and we look at all the websites that are ranking – actually, sorry – all the pages that are ranking on page one and what’s important about that is because Google is telling you what they want.
So, what we do is – and we ignore FineLine, Yelp, and all the directory crap – but what we do is we look at the local websites that are ranking and we look and we see how many links do they have and then we also see what is the anchor text diversity, how many – you know – what percentage – what’s the average percentage of exact match to those Baltimore Attorney links, what’s the average percentage of URLs where it actually links to – where the anchor text is actually a URL, what’s the average percentage of – you know – “Click Here”, “Check This Out” website – stuff like that.
Now, what we do is we kind of – we do it on a – not even a city by city basis – on a surf by surf basis – we basically figure out what is Google looking for that’s the best way to do it.
So, anchor text links are very, very important.
They’re getting more complicated, it’s very important because if you do it wrong, you can definitely really screw up your website.
If you do it right, then you can have a ton of success really make a lot of money with search engine optimization.
So, linking is probably one of the most important, one of the most probably abused, one of the most – one of the least understood parts of linking.
So, hopefully, We explained that a little bit.
We can go way more in-depth at linking than I did, but I’m just trying to kind of keep it a little surface-level here.