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Exploring keywords and Google bombs

From: SEO: Link Building in Depth

Video: Exploring keywords and Google bombs

In this video, we're going to look at another critical concept, one that I feel is really more important than PageRank for all the fuss that is made over the PageRank algorithm. We're going to discuss the importance of putting keywords into your link's anchor texts. The fact is you can have high PageRank pages, but if they're not well optimized, they still won't rank well, and keyworded links are part of the optimization process in a sense. PageRank merely tells the search engines that your site is popular but keywords in the links tell the search engines why. They tell the search engines what your site is about.

Exploring keywords and Google bombs

In this video, we're going to look at another critical concept, one that I feel is really more important than PageRank for all the fuss that is made over the PageRank algorithm. We're going to discuss the importance of putting keywords into your link's anchor texts. The fact is you can have high PageRank pages, but if they're not well optimized, they still won't rank well, and keyworded links are part of the optimization process in a sense. PageRank merely tells the search engines that your site is popular but keywords in the links tell the search engines why. They tell the search engines what your site is about.

PageRank can't do that. Take a look at this search for olive oil face cream. We'll open the pages listed from the organic search results one by one, skipping the shopping and video results. And look at the PageRank. You can see, starting at the top, we have a variety of PageRanks and you'll notice that they're not in sequential order. There's no direct correlation between Rank and PageRank. Clearly, something else is going on. As I explained earlier, PageRank is used as a tiebreaker.

The page has to be a good match for a search query before PageRank ever comes into play. I explained in my earlier course, Analyzing Your Website to Improve SEO, the sorts of on-page things you can do to make your pages match particular keywords. So now we're going to look at an off-page technique to do the same; a very powerful, yet very simple way to use links to make your pages match search queries. Quite simply, you put the keywords you want to rank well for into the anchor text that the link is pointing at your site.

The search engines look at the anchor text to get an idea of what the reference page is all about. If Google, for instance, finds the words olive oil in a link, you can be pretty sure that the reference page isn't about oral surgery or soccer. It makes perfect sense that the reference page should have something to do with olive oil. You know this from your own experience; the text in links is usually closely associated with the subject matter of the reference page. It's such a simple thing, but when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Words in the links can be generally speaking one of four things.

They can be calls to actions such as click here or click this link or something similar. They can be the name of the website or the company that owns the website. The link text can be a URL, that's common in many directories or listings of websites. Or they can be words that are somehow related to what the reference page is about. So it makes perfect sense that Google and all other major search engines should examine links for clues about the subject matter of the reference page, because they can often find really strong clues.

If a search engine sees a company name in the link, it's fair to assume that the reference page has something to do with that company. If the link contains the words training videos, it's reasonable for it to believe the page has something to do with training videos. And if it sees dozens or hundreds of links with the words training videos pointing to that page, it's convinced and it figures that the page is one that many people think is a good match for the phrase training videos. The search engine has in effect recruited website owners to help it find a good match for the phrase.

Even if the search engine sees a call to action, it's going to associate the page with that call to action. Here's a perfect example. What happens if you search Google for the phrase click here? At or near the top, you'll find the Adobe Reader download page. Open that page and search the source code for the phrase click here. You won't find it. This page is a truly terrible match for the phrase, except for the hundreds of thousands of pages around the web saying something like, If you need to download Adobe Reader, click here.

This is a great example of what has become known as a Google bomb. A Google bomb is created by linking to a specific web page using a particular keyword phrase often for political or humorous purposes. Sometimes it's used to associate an unpleasant or insulting phrase with a particular person, or perhaps to cause a site to attacking someone to rise high in the search results. The most famous example was the "miserable failure" of Google bomb of 2003 when a few score links and blogs managed to associate the phrase "miserable failure" with George Bush's resume on the whitehouse.gov website.

Again, the page was a terrible match as neither word appeared anywhere in the text. Google somehow fixed it four years later, so that "miserable failure" no longer puts George Bush in the number one spot. But this Google bomb still works on Yahoo! and Bing. You see, Google bombs are a function of the way all major search engines read links, so they don't function only on Google. We don't know for sure how Google stopped the "miserable failure" Google bomb. They claimed it wasn't a manual fix, but that they changed the algorithm to stop it happening.

Regardless, Google bombs are alive and well and if you stop thinking of them as a mere trick, you'll realize they're a technique. Your task is to Google bomb your own site with the keywords for which you want to rank well. One of the most common questions I get from new consulting client is why is my competitor ranking higher than me? Often I'll see that my client's website is much better optimized, yet here is this other poorly optimized often ugly site ranking higher. So I'll do a link analysis. We'll look at that in a later video and take a look at the links pointing to the site.

You can see the example here for a site ranking well for the phrase olive oil. Each line is a separate link and in this column you can see the anchor texts for those links. What do we see? Olive oil in various combinations over and over again. Call it what you want; keyworded links or Google bombing, the fact is it works. It's an extremely powerful mechanism for convincing search engines that your site is related to a particular keyword phrase that is the best match in fact. What it means is you want to make sure that many of the links pointing to your site have useful anchor texts, not just your company name and unless that's what you're trying to act for, not merely your URL, not a call to actions such as "click here," but keywords you want to do well for.

Incidentally, this works not only for links pointing to your site from elsewhere, but also for links within your own site. Even within your site, the search engines look at the keyword text to figure out what a page is about. Of course, you have much more control over your own links and external links, so don't forget to use plenty of keyworded links in your own pages.

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SEO: Link Building in Depth

30 video lessons · 12791 viewers

Peter Kent
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