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A big shout out to all my SEO comrades today! If you want to get a deep, geeky SEO conversation started, just mention anchor links to your peers, then sit back and enjoy the show! Here at Search Engine Academy, we go into a lot of detail about link building, both internal and external. I want to talk a little bit today about evaluating anchor links when you do an inbound backlink profile analysis. Whew! Say that three times fast!

We all know that in this brave Google post-Penguin world, we need to stay on top of who’s linking back to us. A fairly new phenomena, “negative SEO” includes putting links on spammy, questionable sites back to a competitor’s site simply to get Google to knock them down in rankings for preferred keyword phrases.

I’m recommending that every couple months, you pull the profile of links coming back into your sites and eyeballing them for a few different things to clue you in as to whether or not you may have a problematic link profile in Google’s eyes. Ready? Let’s get going!

There are a lot of link checking tools; I’m not going to get into which ones are better than others. They’re all pretty good as far as that goes. What’s important for this conversation is this – do they collect the following information for you to evaluate:

  • Number/percentage of Top-Level Domains (TLDs)
  • Number/percentage of specific websites
  • Number/percentage of anchor text links

With Google Penguin, it’s clear that having “domain diversity” – a large amount of different domains and websites – is an important part of having a “natural” linking profile. Spammers typically don’t practice domain diversity when they’re doing negative SEO.

The other thing to key in on is “anchor text diversity.” Google Penguin targets sites that have huge numbers of identical anchor text links that are specific keyword phrases.

Now that we know this, let’s look at some redacted analysis I recently did to see if a client’s backlink profile was looking legit:

There’s a pretty good amount of TLD diversity here. Since dot com is the most widely used, we would expect to see a majority of those as our linking partners.

This domain diversity looks OK; it might be a little top heavy in the first domain. I would try to balance it out with more links from other websites to bring that first percentage down.

If I were re-doing this link profile, I’d boost the amount of branded anchor text, which is the first one. I’d make the majority (>55%) of my anchor text branded with my company or business name. However, what I am not seeing is a preponderance of a preferred keyword phrase, so this one might dodge Google Penguin.

What should you do if you have doubts about your linking profile?

First, identify the anchor text that may look “keyword phrase” heavy. Make a list of all the sites that phrase, or it’s variation appears on as a text link. Next, start contacting those sites and provide them with new, branded anchor text. Track your actions in a spreadsheet, and don’t give up.

Until next time, if you haven’t done a link profile analysis, put it on your to-do list and see what the results show. Hopefully, you have a clean, Google Penguin-friendly profile.

Keep it between the ditches and your laptop dry, umkay?

All the best to you,