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When it comes to making your business succeed online, SEO (search engine optimization) is everything, but link building can often fail when it comes to website optimization. Adding hyperlinks to your website is one of many ways to improve your Google rankings and make sure potential customers see your offerings.
However, it is not only about the quantity of links on your website, but also about the quality, i.e. the source you are linking to, the position of the link on the page and more. Understanding the reasoning behind Google’s link ranking will help you optimize your website for more traffic and exposure.
Fortunately, Google has just released an updated guide on its link building best practices. As a marketing expert and business leader, I’ve gone through these new guidelines and shared my expertise on optimizing content and link building best practices so your online business can thrive.
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The latest version from Google
The Google Search best practices documentation has been around for several years, with tips and tricks for improving your SEO for Google Search. It provides simple optimization advice for numerous categories, from SEO fundamentals to monitoring and debugging.
In February 2023, Google updated the online document to reflect new link building best practices. Where previously the link information was only about building searchable links, it now includes some essential link building tips that will help your website perform well in Google’s search results.
Related: 7 SEO copywriting tips to help your business rank on Google
Making searchable links was an essential part of the earlier version of this Google Search Best Practices document. It remains a crucial tip to ensure that the links on your website are of top quality. In order for Google’s algorithm to crawl (comb through your site automatically), the links must be written in readable code.
Google provides specific examples of what types of code can and cannot be crawled. Check out the examples and code recommendations and make sure your website’s coding follows these suggestions so that Google can understand your links and rank your page.
Related: Learning Google SEO can help you grow your business on a budget
Placing anchor text correctly…
What is anchor text? Anchor text is the visible text of a link or what you would click on as a user. Google gives several tips on anchor text (most importantly, make sure you use it!). It’s also worth noting that in the case of images used as links, Google suggests adding descriptive alt text as it will be credited as anchor text.
Related: Five red flags that can destroy your Google ranking
…and write better anchor text
In addition to knowing where and how to place your anchor text, writing clear and descriptive anchor text is essential. Strong writing helps Google categorize the relevance of your links and, of course, also helps users better understand what they’re going to click on.
For example, if you hyperlink to another page on your site and use the “Learn more” anchor text, Google (and users!) won’t find it satisfactory. Where does this link lead? If you just read the anchor text out of context, it wouldn’t make much sense.
Instead, write anchor text that still makes sense out of the context of the rest of the sentence — without being too long. Updating the anchor text to “our company’s mission statement” would better serve your purpose and meet Google’s requirements.
Google also reminds users not to overdo it. Adding too many keywords can be considered spam, and adding too many different links right next to each other can confuse readers. In short: space your links, make your anchor text clear and descriptive, and don’t use keywords.
Related: 6 elements your link building campaign should include
The last section of SEO linking best practices covers internal and external links. What is the difference? Internal links refer to links that lead to a page within the same web domain (ie you direct the user to another part of your website). External links take the user to a whole new domain.
Google recommends paying particular attention to internal links, as this is an area that is often overlooked. The search giant also recommends including at least one internal link on every page of your website, primarily to provide clarity about a particular section. Not sure how to include more internal links? Imagine a user’s journey on your site and how other pages on your domain might be useful for a specific section.
Don’t be afraid when it comes to external links! Make sure you link to valid, trustworthy sources. Established news sources can be a great way to give context and statistics to your website and prove to Google that your website can be trusted too.
Finally, Google provides code-specific guidance for sponsored and user-generated content and a way to stop Google from crawling certain external links. Also read these tips carefully, as they relate to specific situations you may encounter.