Ari Nahmani live diagnosed the link profiles of a number of sites during this session at SMX West 2013, along with Search Engine Land’s Elisabeth Osmeloski and Kaila Strong.
If you are distributing an embedded widget or free plugin, make the anchor text all brand name on the link back. Rotating the anchor text might work for now, but might also be a ticking time bomb for a future Penguin update. Still leaves a discernible footprint. You need a lot less exact match anchors these days to rank for things. Not saying don’t do any exact match, but be very sparing with it. Beware of creating patterns that are easily discerned by Google. Ari suggests about 50% pur brand and them most of the rest variations on the brand name.
Search engines still do use anchor text for relevance, however. So you do have to have some exact match in the mix. The challenge is to keep it looking natural. The top phrase in your back link anchor text should be branded or naked domain. Go out and find sites that mention your brand but don’t link, and ask them to link.
Pump up the quality and relevancy of your content, and use Google Authorship. Having a team of authoritative authors that you display on your site can help you get better guest posting opportunities.
Create timely content that is date-stamped.
What about non-linked citations of your brand? Is there value in linking to it from your site to increase the awareness of that citation? But do it as a naked link or non-clickable link. But it is a valid idea to help build up the authority of a third-party source linking back to you as long as that source is more authoritative than yours.
Use Zemanta.com and pay for sponsoring to get lots of natural link backs. It’s a plugin that suggests relevant outlinks to content producers.
Troll competitor’s back links and where you have better quality content, offer it to the linking site.
A natural back link profile: Imagine a site that gets popular and starts attracting links. People will link with “click here” and “check this out” and the domain or URL or even weird stuff like “they do great stuff.” If too much of your back links are keywords, that’s an obvious signal to search engines that something unnatural is going on.
The various blog exchange services get so quickly degraded in quality that it’s probably not worth the risk to try to get your content there.
Even link builders and SEO’s need to spend more time thinking about real marketing: as a function of doing outreach for links, see the value of getting mentions, interviews, and building relationships for your brand, not just getting the link.
Followerwonk.com helps you find authoritative people on Twitter in your vertical. Just getting mentioned by some of them, even without a link, can be valuable.
Probably a good idea to stop saying “guest post” or “guest blogger” on your guest posts. Probably inevitable that this will be on Google’s radar.
Download a CSV from Google Webmaster Tools of all the links point to you and then use Scrape Box to crawl all those links and throw them into a spreadsheet to get a truer picture of your back links as Google sees them.
End of session.