When optimizing a website for a particular keyword, some sites can go overboard with the anchor text, to the point of getting that keyword phrase penalized by Google.
As Google works on more algorithms and ways to detect unnatural linking profiles, it will become more apparently obvious which websites are getting links organically. Because, let's face it, a new website won't pull in hundreds of links with one keyword phrase as anchor text 90 percent of the time naturally.
While SEOs understand the importance of creating natural looking links, clients aren't always so keen on the idea. Their goal is to rank for that one golden keyword phrase.
So how do you stand up to clients in defense of link building without anchor text? Here are some ways to explain the benefits of, and reasons for, linking without specific anchor text.
Build Links for Traffic
One reason clients want to rank highly in search engines is for traffic, right? Then why not use the classic words "click here" as anchor text that will encourage people to take action when they see your link.
Build Links for Branding
Branding is becoming more important, especially if you think about the fact that A stands for Amazon and AOL, B stands for Bank of America and Best Buy, and so on when it comes to Google Instant results.
Therefore, you'll want to build links to the business/brand name so that the brand becomes more authoritative in search results. Imagine if someone sort of remembers your company name, but not completely, and tries using the Google to find you, one letter at a time. So if you were Netflix, you would want your name to popup as someone started typing "Ne."
Hint: This would be a great time to revisit all of those link opportunities you might have passed up because they didn't allow anchor text.
Build Links for Alternative Keyword Phrases
If someone doesn't have a clear idea what they are searching for, they might be led astray by Google's suggestions that appear in the search box as they type. So look at your client's keywords and start typing them in slowly to see what comes up, and show that to your clients. Maybe that will encourage them to consider other anchor text.
Also, Google isn't the end all of suggest tools. There are many other sites that offer some keyword alternatives, including major search engines (Bing, Yahoo, Blekko) and social search sites (Topsy, Delicious).
Build Links for Internal Pages
Is your link building focus only on the home page? Why not get the internal pages of the site ranked highly as well?
Show your client the benefits of going for more specific terms, like the traffic they would get if they were to rank first for a specific, less difficult keyword on an internal page as opposed to being number 10 for a generic keyword with lots of competition.
Your Thoughts on Anchor Text
How do you handle clients that want links build to one specific keyword phrase? What other types of links or alternative anchor text strategies do you go for when link building?
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!