Google Finally Gives More Weight To Editorial, Natural Link Profiles

You no doubt monitor your ranking within Google and even though many online authorities say keyword ranking is not as important as it once was there are still a number of reasons to keep track of it.

1) It lets you know Google is happy with your optimisation practices

2) It helps you understand how site and page changes affect your rank

3) And of course it helps keep you motivated (if youโ€™re moving in the right direction)

So, monitoring your own site is a given, however do you monitor the search results page in general for your target keyword?

For example I am targeting the keyword ‘search engine optimisation’ it is highly competitive and after 8 months of hard work I am sitting on the second page in the UK.

As part of my SEO practice for this keyword I check my rank position weekly; however I also check the top 20 – 30 positions to look for changes and any websites that may have been penalised.

Now recently there has been a major movement in the UK within the SERPS for the keyword “search engine optimisation” and that is with the website and seo company SEOconsult. They have recently dropped from the first page down to the third page.

It’s important to remember at this point that we are NOT dealing with a site that spammed it’s way to the top, SEOconsult are a reputable business and still sit on the first page of Google for the keyword SEO, they have over 50,000 back links and a Page Rank 6 (for all it is worth).

However, if you take the time to look at the link profile of the site it will soon become clear in my opinion.

First Let’s Contrast It

If you ever see this happen to a competing site or indeed if it happens with your own site, the first place to go is the front page of Google. Look down the top 10 results of the SERPS and pick out a ranking site that seems the weakest out of the bunch, or the one with the least amount of links.

I did this for the keyword ‘search engine optimisation’ and picked out the page Topclickmedia, this site has a significantly less amount of links pointing to the page, in fact it only has around 6000 but in order to see why this page ranks on the first page and SEOconsult have been dropped you need to look at the link profile in a little more depth.

I quickly used the SEObook backlink analyzer to do this but you can use any software you wish. It only pulls out 1000 of the most important links but it is enough to understand why the sudden drop has occurred and why the smaller page is ranking higher.

First let’s take a peek at some of the links pointing to Topclickmedia;

link profile

Now looking down this link profile I specifically targeted links using variations of the keyword “search engine optimisation” and as you can see it is a very interesting link profile.

There are a few things to note here;

1) The links are made up of lot’s of different variations, there is obviously exact anchor text but only around 25% were exact, 39% were variations of the keyword.

2) The links come from deep pages of other sites and not homepages

3) The links are mainly in content making up part of a blog post or an article

I would say this is a big thumbs up for Topclick they are getting in content/editorial links using multiple variations and hey they rank higher with fewer links.

Google have been spouting for a while that they want to give more credit to natural looking anchor text profiles and editorial links but the evidence has been thin to say the least. Has there been an update?? I strongly believe there has.

Let’s Take A Peek at SEOconsult

Right, time to compare the link profile to see how it differs and to see if we can see any clues as to why the rankings may have been hit.

link profile

The snippet above is pretty much what you see throughout the rest of the links, most of them anchored with exact keyword terms “SEO” “search engine optimisation” and “search engine optimization”, there is very little in the way of variation. However, thatโ€™s not all, it is also quite clear that most of the links are in footers, sidebars and directory listings.

So my verdict…

I believe SEOconsult has been penalised due to their highly optimised anchor text and lack of editorial like links. These kinds of changes have been seen on the domain months ago and it looks like they’re filtering through to the side.

Why would Google make these changes??

It’s simple really and makes sense;

1) Directory links, footer links, sidebar links are more likely to be either paid for or site wide.

2) Even though Google encourages keywords in anchor text, highly optimised link profiles scream manipulation and Google does not want to look stupid.

3) Links within content are generally on deeper low PR pages, this means they have a higher probability of being editorial in nature.


I am not saying to stay away from site wide links or even footer links completely. I am simply highlighting that in general your link profile needs to be editorial in nature and your anchor text needs to look naturally varied, stick to around 25% exact anchor on manufactured links.

I hope this has been helpful.

This is definitely my last post before the Jolly Holidays, hope everyone has a good one and wakes up on Christmas morning with a first page ranking ๐Ÿ™‚

Disclaimer – The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not factually based principles. The author is not associated with Google in anyway or any of the above businesses mentioned.


is the CEO of Branded3 a Search Marketing Agency in the UK. Tim has over a decade of experience in Search and regularly speaks at key events and conferences.

9 thoughts on “Google Finally Gives More Weight To Editorial, Natural Link Profiles

  1. Happy Holidays Tim…

    Somebody else just reminded me not to go over 25% with exact keyword anchor text. I am using a variation of my main keyword with 5-10 varitations of the the keyword. Not is it only good seo practice but it also helps to rank for the longtail.

    I was already a big believer in editorial links rather than blogroll or other types of site wide links.

    See you next year!!!

  2. Hi Pchef,

    Ye the anchor variations are becoming more and more important as Google cracks down on over optimisation. Sounds like you have a good set of variations so I wouldn’t change much. Editorial links, in my opinion are the way forward, however I do see the benefit of having footer or site wide links but in moderation and from sites with good authority.

    Have a great holiday, be back in 2010 with a new design!!

  3. Hello Tim,

    Nice post and wonderful illustration of rankings. I have gone through many articles on this particular topic and your post have proved it in a best way. We purchased an paid article posting service from one of sources you provided here :-

    The links included in those articles are enjoying good rankings which was on 3 and 4th page of Google. All I can say is “Editorial Links” works ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Hi Jack,

    Editorial links definitely give you more bang for your buck, however remember anchor text and editorial factors are not all you should focus on. Link from sites that have a good PR are also worth getting links from, either in footers or part of blogrolls, you don’t want to over do it with these kind of links but they are important for getting Google to trust your domian and index more of your content.

    Glad you have found some benefit from the services I recommended. Keep plugging away.

  5. Tim,
    Thanks for the update on the new development. The SEs keep on evolving. Initially on-page optimization was enough. Then it changed to off-page factors e.g. link building. Now link building is not enough. Reciprocal links were the first to be despised by the SEs, now it is ‘spammy’ anchor text and as you say links from ‘home’ pages. The goal posts keep on moving. The story is similar on the PPC side. ๐Ÿ™

  6. Hi Paul,

    The search engines play around all the time to the point you sometimes lose where you are, that is why it is important to stick with the basics regardless. I am pretty heavily involved in PPC too and know it can be frustrating when Google seem to change the quality score rules, however with PPC they seem to give you more insight into how fully optimise, where as with SEO they haven’t committed fully.

  7. Hi Tim,
    I’ve only just found your blog and though I could play devil’s advocate on many things you say, this article is a masterpiece!
    The value assigned to the link is the most important thing about it nowadays. We’ve found that links embedded within social media and blogs are the most valuable for juice and you can compete with the big boys for ‘any’ keyword!
    Whether I’d go so far as to say ‘guarantee a top three ranking’ – yeah on occasions probably!

  8. Hi again,

    Link value is everything however kit is becoming more and more difficult to track. It used to be at one point you could set up hundreds of social profiles and rank a site for just about any keyword, however this seems to be working less and less.

    I always advise having a constant flow of editorial links but the ones that will push you up the rankings is links from those sites that are trusted authorities.

  9. Hi Tim,

    Interesting post, we are just starting out and feel you are making a very interesting point. I like the idea of using varied anchor as it gives a depth to pages. I have never liked the idea of constricting things into two or three phrases as on many occasions it gives a poor picture of what could otherwise be interesting and varied content.

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