You know that good link-backs are an important part of SEO. You know how important it is to work at building strong backlinks. You understand the impact of over-optimized anchor text. You realize the toxic effect of links from spam sites and directory listings. But how important is it, really? And, more to the point, how can you get a link profile that Google loves?
I want to explain the components of a “good link profile” and provide suggestions for how you can improve your link profile.
The Importance of a Link Profile For SEO
In order to stress this point, I want to show you just how important your link profile is.
2013 was a big year in SEO with the rollout of Penguin 2.0, the introduction of Hummingbird, and the announcement, right after the New Year, that social signals are not factored into the search algorithm.
Where do all these changes leave us when it comes to the importance of a link profile?
It’s still really important.
Based on testing, consultation with other industry experts, and careful analysis of existing data, I’ve come up with a visual representation of how important, I think, a website’s link profile is:
(If you want more detailed information on possible ranking factors, please see the Moz’s list of ranking factors.)
We don’t know for sure, but based on careful study, testing, and experience, I think it’s safe to say that a link profile accounts for the vast majority of a site’s ranking according to Google’s algorithm.
The penalties that Google gives to sites are largely based on the sites’ link profiles. The issues that most directly impact a site’s positive ranking are integrally connected to the link profile of that site.
A link profile is incredibly important, which means we need to be asking the following questions:
What is a good link profile?
How do I get one?
What Is a Good Link Profile?
So, let’s answer the first question.
First, let me point out what a good link profile is not. It’s not just backlinks.
Any SEO will tell you that backlinks are the most important element of SEO. Real ranking goes nowhere unless there are backlinks.
However, you can’t simply pore over the backlinks and neglect the larger picture of what’s going on with your link profile. A link profile is more than just backlinks.
Stated another way, backlinks are just one component of the link profile. There is a deeper complexity to the backlink discussion.
So, let’s go through several other things that affect a link profile. What follows is a discussion of the features that characterize a healthy link profile. This is not an exhaustive list.
Big Idea: a good link profile has lots of high authority links and no spammy links.
In other words, there are two overarching qualities to a good link profile:
- Lots of high value, high DA, and high authority linkbacks.
- No spammy backlinks.
You already knew that. I want to go further and explain some of the less obvious features of a good link profile.
Branded Anchor Text
When you break down the importance level of the different elements that affect a website’s ranking, it looks like this:
- Most important factor in a website ranking: Link profile.
- Most important aspect of a link profile: Quality of backlinks.
- Most important quality aspect of backlinks: Anchor text.
- Most important quality of anchor text: Diversity.
Google wants to see in a link profile anchors that display diversity in the form of branded anchor texts.
A branded anchor text is one in which the anchor includes the brand name of the company.
For example, if your company is Better World Electronics, then a branded anchor would be “Better World Electronics,” and it would point to your URL.
Branded anchors may also be diluted or combined with keywords.
- Diluted: “This company, known as Branded World Electronics, or BWE, is a leading provider of wearable electronic devices.”
- Combined with keywords: “One device, Better World Electronic’s wearable heart rate monitor, is surprisingly affordable.”
A good link profile can contain a large percentage of such anchors. In some cases, this percentage might be as high as 20% of total anchor texts without any damage being done to the site’s link profile.
Semantically Relevant Anchor Text
Another type of diverse anchor text is “semantically relevant.”
You’re probably familiar with Google’s semantically related keywords. Google may return your website in queries even if those queries do not include your target keyword as long as the content on your website is similar to the keywords that are used in the query.
When you have in your link profile anchors that use such semantically similar keywords, this helps to enrich and diversify the profile.
A semantically relevant anchor may look like this:
- Your target keyword: “wearable heart rate monitor”
- Semantically relevant anchor: “smart fitness tracking device”
Your website may have a blog article on the subject of “Wearable Heart Rate Monitors Used for Olympic Marathon Training.” A health website then links to this page, using the anchor “smart fitness tracking device.” This type of semantically relevant anchor text can help enhance a link profile.
Diluted Anchor Text
I mentioned the word “diluted” above, referring to a branded anchor combined with other words or phrases. This is an important feature of healthy link building.
In the post-Penguin era of link building, optimized anchor texts are bad. Diluted anchor texts are good.
A diluted anchor text is one in which the anchor text has lots of words, some related and some not.
For example, let’s use our fictional example of Better World Electronics, who wants to rank for keywords that have to do with fitness tracking devices, wearable electronics, wearable heart rate monitors, etc.
A nice diluted anchor text linking to its site would look like this: “Want to wear a heart rate monitor while you sleep? Some companies are making this possible.” (Underlined portion is the anchor text.)