Google Panda and then Penguin came along and spoiled the party. It’s now much more difficult to try to get your page to rank for specific keyword phrases.
The old way of SEO was to:
- Identify low competition, high demand phrases.
- Create a page around the phrase.
- Backlink to that page using the specific keyword phrase.
This process would usually allow us to rank for any keyword phrase. The only difference between ranking for low or high competition phrases was the number of times we needed to repeat step 3.
Today, this technique will get your site penalized, even de-indexed.
Google is on the lookout for artificially create links, and none are more obvious than anchor text links like that look like this:
That paragraph has 5 links in it, but even just one link would be one too many if those links point to a web page on a different domain.
NOTE: That example is actually one that Google shows us in the Webmaster Guidelines under “Link Schemes”.
The problem is, it is not natural to link to another site using keyword rich anchor text links like this. The only reason someone would do that is to try to make the site pointed to in that link rank higher for that particular phrase.
But what about Wikipedia? They a lot of keyword rich anchor text links, and that site comes up in just about every search? Google loves Wikipedia!
Here is a screenshot from Wikipedia:
See all of those keyword rich anchor texts?
So why does Wikipedia get away with it?
Well they don’t….
If you mouse over a link on Wikipedia, chances are the link will be to an internal page on the site:
This type of linking IS natural, because it’s there to help the visitor navigate the site. As someone is reading an article on Wikipedia and they come to the word metabolic, as shown in that screenshot, they might wonder what “metabolic” means. They can easily and quickly click the link to be taken to a page on Wikipedia that explains the meaning.
Can you see how this type of internal link IS NATURAL?
If you still don’t see it, think of it this way.
Suppose we had a web page that talked about health, and mentioned the word metabolic but did not have a page on the site about the meaning of the word. If you wanted to link to a page about “metabolic”, you’d have to link to a different site.
If you linked using keyword-rich anchor text, like in the Wikipedia screenshot, what does that tell your visitor? They will wonder why you are sending them off to another website and may even become suspicious and wonder about your motives. It simply doesn’t make sense to link like that to an external link, without some measure of explanation.
This would be OK:
In that example, you are directing a visitor to another website, and telling them why they might want to go there. There is no unexpected link to another site that could raise suspicion.
So, the fact is, keyword-rich anchor text links to external websites, within the body of an article, ARE NOT NATURAL. If you don’t believe me, just ask Google. Here is what they say just before they show the example I showed you at the beginning of this article:
OK; so how can we rank for our chosen keyword phrases?
The thing is, Google DO NOT want you to choose what phrases your pages should rank for. They want 100% control over that.
That is why they have started penalizing sites that have inbound “unnatural” links, like those keyword-rich anchor text variety. And things will only get worse as Google’s tolerance for web spammers (that’s what they call webmasters that create links like this) reaches breaking point.
My own plan for ranking for specific keywords
Back in 2012 I published a case study for internal linking and showed how it boosted my rankings for several important keyword phrases. You can read that case study here. Ever since the success of that study, I've used internal linking extensively on all of my niche sites. I even helped develop a WordPress plugin that could do the internal linking for me (more on that later) and another tool that could analyze my sites and show me internal linking problems and where I needed to concentrate my efforts. Up until now, those tools have only been available to my “Insider Members”.
Let me outline the strategy I use to rank for specific keywords phrases.
- Use keyword research to find out low competition, high demand keyword phrases.
- Pick a phrase you want to rank for, and then find out what supporting words and phrases should be included in an article about that phrase. For example, if you want to rank for gestational diabetes symptoms, your article will also include words like: glucose, mother, baby, blood pressure, pregnancy, diabetes, health, test, trimester, weight, insulin, sugar, blood, nutrition, symptoms, pancreas, maternity, glucose challenge test, tolerance testing. I call these theme words.
- Write an article that is well themed around the topic by using those theme words and phrases. Believe me, you will need them if your article is going to adequately cover the topic.
- Get links from pages on other web sites that are related to your topic of gestational diabetes. That would include pages that talk about gestational diabetes, diabetes in general and pregnancy. For these links, simply link to your article using your article’s title or URL. Never try to use keyword rich anchor text in these links.
- Use internal linking on your site to hone in on specific keyword phrases. For example, wherever you mention gestational diabetes on your site, link to your gestational diabetes page using a relevant phrase in your article. Remember, these internal link, keyword-rich anchor texts ARE natural and help your visitor, so Google loves them.
This method used the power of generic inbound links from other RELATED websites and pages, with the keyword rich anchor text of internal links, to boost rankings for specific keyword phrases. The added benefits of this type of process is that you’ll also rank for hundreds of long-tail phrases as well, simply because you have so many related keywords on the page.