in Digital Marketing

In Web developer circles, SEO practitioners are often mentioned in the same breath as used car salesmen. Neither of these professionals have a positive reputation. We assume they have a self-serving and dishonest agenda. Some of this criticism is deserved, at least for SEO professionals. For every honest SEO consultant, there seem to be a dozen companies using black-hat techniques to trick Google, Yahoo, and Bing into sending traffic to their clients’ sites—until those search engines develop clever algorithms that catch their tricks and ban their clients’ sites. Honest SEO consultants, instead of tricking search engines, work hard to create content that people are searching for, and in this way get more site visitors. This is an ethical business practice that fits well with the adage, “Find a need and fill it.” Using linking strategies for SEO can easily devolve into trickery. However, it can also be used to tell search engines exactly what sort of content your website has to offer, and enable readers to discover your valuable content.

Increase Your Traffic with Link Anchor Text

As I mentioned in my post about using inbound links for SEO,  the search engines count incoming links as a vote for the value of your content. What I did not mention is that this vote is more complex than simply a yes or thumbs up. It is a vote for your content based on the words used inside the anchor or link used to refer to your website. For example, a link to my home page with the anchor text “Professional clown in Memphis” does not help to position me as a Web developer. To rank well as a Web developer, if that was my goal (I’m struggling with differentiation), incoming links with the anchor text “Web developer in Memphis” would be much more effective.

Relevant:
<a href="http://harveyramer.com">Web developer in Memphis</a>
Not So Relevant:
<a href="http://harveyramer.com">Professional clown in Memphis</a>

Being  consistent about how you describe yourself in the anchor text you use to link to your website will help you rank well in the search engines for the phrase you use in your incoming link text. And ranking well leads to more visitors to your website.

Consistent Incoming Links for More Website Traffic

Though you will often be linked to from other websites without having any say about the link anchor text that is used, it is helpful to know what anchor text will help your business. For example, if someone is kind enough to contact you before linking to your site, will you be able to provide a suggested link? If you think in advance about what keywords you want your home page to appear for in the Google search results pages, you will ask that they use the exact link anchor text you believe will increase your Google ranking.

Consistency is paramount for your home page where the lion’s share of search traffic usually is directed. However, for other content you create, such as blog posts, incoming links should also be quite consistent to help boost your search engine results. This consistency is enforced by blog platforms which, by default, use your post title when linking to a blog post. This underscores the importance of naming posts with the keywords that you believe may be used by potential readers when searching for the content you give.

Keyword Themes for Internal Links Can Increase Traffic

Though you do well to be consistent in your linking (both internal and external), I have found that using some planned variety with anchor text is often helpful. If I wanted to be found as a Web developer in Memphis, then most of my incoming links should have that anchor text (mentioned above). However, I may also want to highlight the fact that I love to work with JavaScript. To help with that (along with using that keyword in the content on my home page) I may increase my search results by linking to my home page with the term “JavaScript Web developer” in my link anchor text.

<a href="http://harveyramer.com/">JavaScript Web developer</a>

If you take a close look at my website, you will see that I do use this tactic. Though its influence is limited, it does make a difference.

All href Attributes Should Be Lower Case

If you’re not a Web developer this may sound hopelessly geeky, but it’s got to be said. Business people are fond of making website URLs more readable by using varied case. For example, it’s easier to read HarveyRamer.com than harveyramer.com. This is great for posters, business cards, and brochures. However, it’s a mistake online. Always use lower case when linking to your website, and always name pages, files, and images using lower case.

Even though HarveyRamer.com and harveyramer.com point to the same website, it is likely that Google will view them as two different URLs. Because of this, the ranking boost that I am hoping for may not happen if consistent href case is not used.

Remember,

<a href="http://HarveyRamer.com">

and

<a href="http://harveyramer.com">

are not necessarily the same.

A Simple Takeaway

Take some time to find out how people are finding your website. To do this, learn to use Google Webmaster Tools. Based on that research, be consistent in how you link to your own content, and encourage other website owners to use your suggested link text. Last of all, remember, case does matter.