The last couple of months have been a link analysis month for me and the team at Branded3, the unique changes we are seeing in SERP activity sparked an ongoing interest in the office into how Google is now ranking sites.
As you will have seen my last couple of posts have been focused on these changes, first with the assumption of brand anchor text value and secondly the possibility of a tighten anchor text filter. There are other interesting trends we have come across but unfortunately I cannot publish them all just yet, however one thing we are noticing is how well Google are now devaluing ‘assumed’ paid links.
Whenever paid links have been discussed in the SEO world and how Google maybe detecting them, it has always been focused on the site selling for e.g. If a site has lots of anchor text sidebar anchor rich links then Google can presume these are paid and that’s probably a correct assumption, however….
From the research we have conducted it seems to suggest Google could be deciding whether to count links based on the link profile of the domain it is pointing to, so if you have an over optimised link profile and Google finds hundreds more exact anchor links, the theory is they will not count.
However, if you have a very natural anchor text profile and a proportionate amount of optimised links, these will have more chance of counting.
This has all been covered to an extent in my previous articles, which if you missed, you can read here;
Natural Link Profile
As well as anchor text there are other ways that Google could be establishing how optimised a link profile is, for example if a website only has links from high PageRank websites is this natural? Could it be that the site is buying lots of links from what they perceive to be high quality websites?
Any good SEO will tell you a natural link profile will probably have as many low quality links as it does high quality.
Now PageRank is not a good metric for lots of different reason, however the crew at SEOmoz have provided us with the excellent open site explorer which we can use to download our link profiles into excel.
Once we have all the links downloaded and have removed duplicate URL’s we can use a pivot chart to see the spread of domain authority across the domains linking to our site.
This is what the SEOwizz profile looks like;
I like to think this is quite a natural looking profile, a little spike around the 30 mark but generally it’s quite flat with links from all kinds of domains ranging from the good to the ugly.
Now if you’re buying links left right and centre you might have a link profile that looks a little like this;
I don’t like outing sites, hence the reason I haven’t named the above but this is a genuine link profile of a recently penalised brand attempting to rank for a major financial term. Typically if you’re buying links from domains with a certain amount of Domain Authority your link profile is going to look like this and in my opinion, this isn’t going to work anymore. It is all too easy for search engines to analyze this sort of profile and quickly discover there are very few links from websites other than those with domain authority of between 30 – 50. Is this what a natural well linked to website should look like? In my opinion this looks manipulated and when you investigate further it clearly is.
Just to confirm this is all theory based on recent consulting and research, however if you have been struggling to rank for a keyword;
Step one; check your anchor text and make sure you have enough natural link text
Step two; download your links to make sure you have an even spread of links
Many SEO’s are precious about where they source links from not realising that a genuine website is linked to from every different kind of domain authority imaginable, in fact if you have a content rich site there is no doubt you’ll have a lot of links from good old scrapers!
The best link profile is not always one filled with high quality websites, Google wants the links they count to be natural and high PageRank, Mozrank etc… does not always if ever equal natural. High quality link sources are always needed but what makes us think a natural link profile would only include these?