It's something you hear over and over again from SEOs: Anchor text matters. Chris Brogan relayed this familiar advice this week in a post on decisions we make as bloggers:
By the way, HOW you link to something matters. If you link to chrisbrogan.com by calling it Chris’s blog, then you’re telling Google that people searching for “Chris’s blog” might want chrisbrogan.com. If you link to chrisbrogan.com by calling it social media resources or social media strategy or whatever (frankly, I’ve never known what to bother ranking for in search results), then you are telling Google that people searching for social media whatever might want to find my blog.
So in choosing the words for the link text, you’re also making decisions.
Aside: It took me FOREVER to find where I'd read this again. First, I looked back through my feeds from the week, but I assumed I'd read it on a more search-centric blog so I didn't check Chris Brogan's. Then I explicitly searched for it in Google Reader, but I used the phrase "anchor text" and he refers to it as "link text," so it didn't come up. Finally I resorted to a regular old Google search, filtered for "blogs" and "recent," scanning for things I knew I'd read, and Chris's post came up—but only because someone used "anchor text" in the comments. So. Note to Chris Brogan: It's called anchor text.
ANYWAYZ, I simply took this advice on faith until the day I saw the power of anchor text in action. A couple of years ago, I was doing a little healthy self-googling when I found this page in the SERPs:
(Yes, it's on page 31 now, but I swear it used to be on one of the first few pages. Self-googling isn't my ONLY hobby.) I knew instantly why it was showing up, despite the fact that my name, obviously, does not appear anywhere on this page featuring an Italian painting in Boston's MFA collection ("Portrait of a Woman with a Pearl Necklace"):
It's because my friend Adam Golaski once used my name as the anchor text in a link to this painting, because he thinks it looks like me.
Pretty awesome, huh? I bet if more people linked to the painting with "Elisa Gabbert" in the "link text," it would climb back up in the rankings … but at what point would Google deem it a Google bomb?
Search Highlights from the Week
Some good reading:
- Four new signals in search: There's more to Google's algorithm than links. Eric Enge discusses four signals that are growing in importance, including page load time and social media signals.
- SEO Boy also talked site structure this week, in a post called "Information Architecture: A Sometimes Forgotten SEO Basic."
- In the social world, Copyblogger offers some "hard data" on what goes into a retweetable headline.
- And finally, in a long article derived from her speech at this week's FTC conference, Arianna Huffington talks about the future of journalism in a new media world in which "news has become social." She argues that new business models—not desperate pay-for-play ones—are in order, but falls short of actually proposing one.
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