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Link Sense & Sensibilites
Last week Danny had a great write up on the new anchor text reporting feature Google added to its Webmaster Toolbox. According to Google, they’ve “enhanced the information we provide and will show you the complete phrases sites use to link to you, not just individual words. And we’ve expanded the number we show to 100″. Very cool.
Danny went on to list a couple of additional items he wished Google would add, one being a drill down option of the exact pages linking in. If Google’s keeping score, I wanted to add an emphatic “me too.” Being able to see the anchor text phrases used to link to your site (and knowing they’re phrases Google sees as well), can be a tremendous help in marketing your business.
If you’re not already checking your inbound anchors, it might be a good time to start. It’s smart to know how people link to you and where they’re linking from. While we wait on Google to add the URL feature, you can use a couple of free tools or those part of paid software packages. Either way, find one you like, run a back link report and review the results for marketing and SEO opportunities.
For example, take a look at the phrases being used in your anchors and reclaim any that are misspelled or use wonky text. My definition of ‘wonky’ is anything you don’t like or doesn’t work to market your products. If you’ve just launched a company you don’t want to confuse potential customers with variations in your brandable name. You also don’t want to waste link juice by leaving a sizable number of misspelled name or non-relevant anchors in place. Be smart about using what you have to it’s fullest SEO and marketing potential especially if your link sits on a high traffic site that’s been around a while.
However, don’t go crazy trying to change them all, having variations in your anchor text is a natural part of your linking pattern. We don’t all talk the same or use the same phrases so expect some variation in your links. Your bigger challenge with this process will be getting your host to make the text link changes. Don’t be shy in offering incentives and major thank yous as you contact them.
While it’s good to keep an eye on what your links are saying, it’s equally important to know what your competitors are doing. Knowing where and how competitors link will help explain why they’re ranking for certain terms. Backlink their key pages and compare your link text to theirs, noting where they’re coming from and how many are showing. Incorporate what you find into your overall marketing plan and work to keep your site number one.
Debra Mastaler is President of Alliance-Link, an interactive marketing agency focused on providing link building campaigns and link training as well as chief blogger on The Link Spiel. The Link Week column appears on Mondays at Search Engine Land.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.