The Link Shrink Is In: 3 Crazy Linking Assumptions
Building on last month’s column, Five Linking Myths That Need To Go Away In 2013, one of the best and worst things about the Web is the never-ending supply of absolutely horrifying bad information that must be clarified. This helps keep people like me in business. I feel like a link doctor. A Link shrink. So thank you to all the folks who love to make completely unsubstantiated claims about links and linking strategies.
Here’s a few more things about links I have been told recently by content owners (who were told these things by their SEO or linking strategist).
1. Anchor Text Will Cease To Be A Ranking Signal Altogether In 2013
To make such a statement is reckless. Of course it’s possible to engineer anchor text, and sure, you can still buy links with whatever anchor text you want. And, Google can spot the majority of these a mile away. But this does not render any and all anchor text links useless.
It is not the anchor text itself that matters. It’s the credibility and intent of the person who placed the content containing the anchor text on their site. Are you really going to tell me that if the Library Of Congress site links to Consumer Reports magazine’s site using the words “Consumer Product Reviews” that this would be a useless signal? No way.
It’s all about source signal credibility –anchor text that originates on sites with no credibility versus anchor text that originates from sites that the engines know to be historically credible in the first place.
2. Broken Link Building Is Not Efficient
For those of you new to broken link building, read Garrett French’s Link Building Outreach: 5 Steps To Maximize The Value Of Every Opportunity, and pay special attention to this paragraph.
Suggesting new, alternative page for now-dead links
Using a broken-link finding tool you may be lucky enough to discover a formerly valuable page of content that was widely linked, but has since gone dead, out of date or now contains only affiliate links. If this formerly useful page contained relevant content that your target market would find useful, it makes sense to research, rewrite and reach out to folks who linked to similar content.
Broken link building can be done brilliantly or comically bad. My website is ancient and hand edited, and filled with broken links. Even Xenu is sick of it.
As such, I receive several broken link alerts each month from well meaning folks eager to have me edit my broken links so they point to their site instead of the site that no longer exists. What a nice gesture. They want to help me keep my content useful. Except, they make a crucial kiss of death mistake right up front. They start their email as follows:
Delete. I’m not a webmaster, and my site is EricWard.com. My logo has my name in it. There’s a picture of me in the logo. For you to send me an email and start it out with “Dear Webmaster” means you have not visited my site. So, your credibility is now zero. Some even ask for anchor text.
On the other hand, I found a broken link on a University site created by a professor in the college of business. The broken link was to a site that was devoted to online publicity. I emailed him and introduced myself, and asked if I could send him a URL that contained my library of 200+ content publicity and link building posts.
He removed the dead link, and linked to my site. Again, it’s about execution.
3. Links Will No Longer Be The Most Important Ranking Signal In 2013. It’s All About Social.
Absolutely moronic, and I have no insider information. I have gut instinct and 18+ years of searching.
Let me ask you a simple question. If you ran a search engine, wouldn’t you want to choose your results from a variety of signals instead of just one user generated signal? And wouldn’t you want to choose which signals were based on the searcher’s intent?
There are a great many searches I do only after I have logged out of Google. What social signals is Google going to use then?
If I log out of Google and do the search you see above, I’d really prefer that I remain anonymous during that process. I wouldn’t want people to get the wrong idea about Link Moses.
I’m kidding with this example, but the larger point remains. There are millions of searches that people conduct every day in private, or in a way that will not allow for certain signals to influence the results. So, while I do think links are becoming one of multiple “signals of salience”, as they were elegantly described by Amit Signhal in this fantastic article, they cannot go away. Links contain far too much goodness to ignore.
So, keep the linking myths coming. Send me a declarative statement about links and SEO that you heard or read, and let’s see if I can refute it.