Since the creation of the Google search engine, as well as the much publicised “do no evil”, their main objective has been to return relevant search results to the person who is looking for information. It is important to remember this as their objective is NOT to help businesses and organisations promote their website (however good it might be)!
Old way to improve rankings
Due to this objective, many small business website owners have looked for ways to help their website improve in the search engine rankings. Some have had success, others have not. A whole industry offering search engine optimisation (SEO) has been created, again with a varying degree of success. SEO can be split into 2 distinct areas, on page (the structure and content that appears on a website) and offpage (inbound links from other websites, directories, etc). It should also be added that social media (how many Facebook ‘likes’, Google ‘+ 1’s’, etc that your website is receiving).
Over recent years, Google gave a very high ranking to websites with many inbound links, especially where the anchor text of link was an exact match to a search phrase. Anchor text is simply the text that appears in a link i.e. Click Here. Many SEO companies focused on adding links with the anchor text matching the search phrase a website wished to rank well in the search engines. So if you were running a building company in Colchester, the anchor text would typically be ‘builders in Colchester’, ‘Colchester builders’, etc.
Old way made the searchers unhappy
The Google algorithm used to equate many links with the same anchor text to mean that the website must be a good match for the search phrase. This resulted in websites who practiced this approach rising to the top of the Google rankings. Unfortunately, the results that reached the top were not always the results that the person searching was looking for. This means that the searchers were unhappy that in turn means that Google was unhappy for not meeting their objective.
Google comes to the rescue
In April 2012 Google addressed this my adjusting their search algorithm to discount inbound links that looked like they were artificial and / or being used to manipulate rankings. This change hit a number of websites quite hard, unfortunately many innocent websites were caught in the cross fire. While there is still much debate on what is the best approach for SEO (just search for best seo approach post penguin), one thing is certain, building links using the same anchor text is no longer as effective. In fact it can hurt your rankings.
Like in business, you should never rely on one customer for all your business. What happens if they go ‘bust’? The same is true for search engine traffic. Google often makes changes to their search engine algorithm. If you are unlucky, you could lose all of your traffic overnight. Therefore, it makes sense to look to other channels as well for search traffic. For example, Facebook is the 2nd most visited website each month with many people using it to seek buying advice. Every business should set up their own Facebook Business page. It provides another source for visitors, and lessens the risk of single point of failure with Google.