SEO has always been about link building, and link building has always been about anchor text. The more targeted keyword anchor text links you could get to your site, the better your site would rank in search results. As Google’s algorithm has advanced, especially in the most recent advancements, there has been some significant change in the value of anchor text links.
Google Penguin and Panda have increasingly devalued links just based on the fact that they have keyword anchor text – and furthermore, on occasion even negatively impact sites with these types of inbound links from irrelevant referring sites. Getting links from more relevant sites is a strategy change in itself, but that’s not all there is to the story.
In addition to changing the sites you target for inbound link building, you should also optimize the placements of you links within a page. Rather than a “random” link within a page footer, or floating in a margin – you want your links to be within the body of page text, and most importantly, surrounded by targeted keyword anchor text.
For example, if you are an online printing website, you’ want your link to appear within a full sentence such as “business cards, brochures and posters from PrintingforLess.com represent high quality online printing.” This “keyword proximity” is a growing factor that Google will be using more and more to attribute SEO value to your website.
In recent month, Google has even been known to rank websites for keyword phrases that have zero inbound anchor text links with the same keywords – or even any links at all from sites near those keywords. These sites are ranking just for having their non-linked web URL or brand near these keywords on a relevant website. These SEO opportunities are known as co-citations. Co-citations aren’t necessarily different from general keyword proximity, their simply the most highly valued example of this strategy.
As you adapt your website’s SEO strategy to these new algorithm changes, you need to be hunting for opportunities that exceed link building. Instead of seeing inbound links as accomplishments in themselves, understand that relevancy and keyword proximity will become more and more important as time goes on.
Don’t expect to “fool” Google with raw inbound links that aren’t natural and don’t include relevant keyword proximity. As the SEO game changes, you have to change with it. Don’t worry about falling behind… if you have a link building strategy already in place – it should be easy to adapt it to a keyword relevancy strategy as well.