Google Releases a New Link Best Practices Guide
Link building is something that you must focus on if you want your site to rank high.
Whether it’s obtaining them naturally by creating amazing content, or by doing manual outreach, more links typically mean higher rankings.
We did an experiment with 200 websites to figure out the types of links Google prefers. If you haven’t read it, you should check it out as some of the results are fascinating.
Now Google also has its own take on links. They normally don’t publish a ton of information when it comes to their algorithms and SEO, but they recently published a new guide on link-building best practices (the old one just talked about making your links crawlable/indexable).
To save you some time, I’ve already read and analyzed it. Here’s what you need to know.
Anchor text placement
Google wants you to use rich anchor text links. This tells them what the page you are linking to is all about.
They share this as a bad link:
The reason that the link is considered bad is that it has no anchor text. It doesn’t help their algorithm figure out what the page is about.
If an anchor text is blank, but a link contains a title attribute, they will use the title attribute. Here’s an example of this:
<a href=”https://example.com/ghost-pepper-recipe” title=”how to pickle ghost peppers“></a>
This shows that Google is using title attributes in links to figure out what to rank a page for.
Ideally, they just want you to use links with rich anchor text such as:
<a href=”https://example.com/ghost-peppers”>ghost peppers</a>
And with images they want you to use alt text such as they use that as anchor text. Here’s an example:
<a href=”/add-to-cart.html”><img src=”enchiladas-in-shopping-cart.jpg” alt=”add enchiladas to your cart“/></a>
With your images, make sure you have descriptive alt text. That way you can get more Google image search traffic.
If you don’t think that’s important, keep in mind 1/3 of all Google searches are for an image
How to write good anchor text
One thing Google focused on was the difference between good anchor text-rich links and bad ones.
They don’t want you to use generic anchor text like: read more or click here.
Again this doesn’t tell them much about the page. It’s bad just like having a blank anchor text link.
They want the anchor text to be descriptive such as:
For a full list of cheese available for purchase, see the <a href=”https://example.com”>list of cheese types</a>.
But they also don’t want you to make your anchor text too long and too descriptive.
For example, this is too descriptive for Google:
<a href=”https://example.com”>Knitted Cow invites local residents of Wisconsin to their grand re-opening by also offering complimentary cow-shaped ice sculptures</a> to the first 20 customers.
They rather have you use something shorter like:
<a href=”https://example.com”>Knitted Cow invites local residents of Wisconsin</a> to their grand re-opening by also offering complimentary cow-shaped ice sculptures to the first 20 customers.
Google mentions that keyword stuffing is a violation of their policy. When we look at the data we have in Ubersuggest (our database has over 40 trillion links) we’ve found that anchor text that is 2 to 5 words long is the ideal length for optimal rankings.
So you don’t need to add too many keywords within the anchor text to do well.
And when your anchor text is one word it’s too generic and it doesn’t help Google enough.
Spread apart your links
Whether it is internal or external links, Google doesn’t want them too close to each other.
For example, if you have multiple links in a row such as:
I’ve written about cheese <a href=”https://example.com/page1″>so</a> <a href=”https://example.com/page2″>many</a> <a href=”https://example.com/page3″>times</a> <a href=”https://example.com/page4″>this</a> <a href=”https://example.com/page5″>year</a>.
It’s not ideal for them.
Your links should be spread out by at least a few words or even a sentence or two. Here is an example that they gave as more ideal.
I’ve written about cheese so many times this year: who can forget the <a href=”https://example.com/blue-cheese-vs-gorgonzola”>controversy over blue cheese and gorgonzola</a>, the <a href=”https://example.com/worlds-oldest-brie”>world’s oldest brie</a> piece that won the Cheesiest Research Medal, the epic retelling of <a href=”https://example.com/the-lost-cheese”>The Lost Cheese</a>, and my personal favorite, <a href=”https://example.com/boy-and-his-cheese”>A Boy and His Cheese: a story of two unlikely friends</a>.
Internal and external links matter
Google wants you to use both internal and external links because it helps them determine what to rank web pages for.
For example, when you use internal links, to link to other pages on your website, they still want you to use rich anchor text.
They specifically mention that the anchor text should be clear enough where a user knows what they are clicking on and what the linked page is all about.
The same goes for Google. The anchor text of the internal link should also help them understand what the linked page is all about.
As for external links, it’s the same as internal links.
Google typically doesn’t give a ton of information on what they look for when it comes to SEO, but something is better than nothing.
If you want optimal rankings, they want you to build links that are:
Rich in anchor text – keywords within the anchor text help with your rankings.
Concise anchor text – anchor text that is too long isn’t helpful to Google.
Use alt text – for images, alt text replaces anchor text.
Use title attributes – Google is using the title attribute to figure out anchor text.
Spread your links apart – links should be separated by ideally a few words if not a few sentences.
Use internal links – most SEOs focus on external links, which you shouldn’t ignore, but internal links is a quick way to boost your rankings.
In addition to the above 6 things, through our own experimentation we’ve found that the ideal link has the following attributes:
Relevant – a page or a website related to yours is better than an irrelevant site linking to you. For example, if you have a website about pets and a website about dogs links to yours, that is ideal.
Concise – anchor text links that are 2 to 5 words are ideal for optimal rankings.
Content-based links – links within content help more than footer or sidebar links.
Multiple sites are better than 1 site – getting links from multiple sites is better than getting links from 1 site multiple times.
High authority links – links from trusted sources like the New York Times are better than links from low authority sites.
Permanent – we’ve found that when you get links and then they are removed within a month it can really hurt your rankings (just like if you were buying links). Focus on natural links and this shouldn’t be an issue.
So how much of your SEO efforts are focused on link building?