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The Importance of Key Phrase Variety in Backlink Profiles

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Basic, 101 SEO rules explain that links should be anything but generic. Even almighty Google, in its 2010-issued SEO Starter Guide explains that webmasters should avoid linking on generic keywords and key phrases, such as ‘click here’, ‘see more’, ‘page’, and ‘article’. However, recent site audits and other research indicate that the guide might just be slightly outdated when it comes to provisions for generic links.

While Google strongly advises in favor of using descriptive text to link on, the actual situation might no longer reflect on their policies and best practice guide. Other similar recommendations warn against using off-topic content as anchor text, using the page URL, and using content that provides the user with little or no indication of the actual content that the link in question would lead them to.

However, ask just about any SEO expert from an active digital net agency and you might find that their prescriptions on generic link greatly differ from the official Google guidelines. How come SEO experts found that Google’s 2012 Penguin update taxed and penalized sites that qualified as ‘over-optimized’. In other words, websites with too many exact matches for a specific type of anchor texts found themselves demoted in the SERPs.

Backlink Profiles

Some recent research will even go as far as to suggest that optimizing a backlink profile with utmost success involves using a balanced blend of all types of anchors, from exact matches to no-follow links, and also including partial matches, URL links and generic links, as described above. The value of generic anchors Google will not penalize your website for back linking in a way that does not include partial matches or generic text.

Since this is not part of their policy, they would be unfair to do so. They will, however, penalize over-optimized content; likewise, they will rank sites with a more balanced profile higher. This is not to say that you should automatically resort to generic links, in order to rank better in the SERPs. The whole point of back linking is to improve usability and user-friendliness in terms of accessing a specific website.

One way to do this is to have as much variety as you can fit in, in your choice of anchor texts. Do avoid scoring highly on exact matches at any given cost, but choose related text for anchoring your links. Co-occurrence is also a great idea to implement, in an effort to achieve diversity.

Simply put, this refers to the fact that search engines will take a good look at the existence of exact matches, then compare their numbers with those of related and co-occurring phrases. You don’t need the same word repeated ad nauseam, but synonyms and semantically related phrases are a great idea. What other methods for anchor diversity can you think of? Let us know in the comments section.

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