By Dolly Howard
Recently, Search Engine Land reported that Google updated its Webmaster Guidelines' Link Schemes document. If you're not sure what that means, link schemes are considered "any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in Google search results ... [including] any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site." This includes unnatural links or "links that weren't editorially placed or vouched for by the site's owner on a page." This rule directly affects your press releases and guest blog posts.
Is anchor text dead?
It may seem like it, but do not lose all hope yet. Accordingly to some great research by Ahrefs, there is still much value in the strategic used of anchor text varieties when used correctly.
Your work isn't all for nothing and there are things you can do to ensure you get the most out of your inbound marketing efforts. Press releases and guest blogging are still essential for success. You just need to adjust your habits a bit to get the most out of each.
All of us who try to optimize our press releases and guest posts for search (that would be me, you and every other inbound marketer in existence), we need to be very careful about how we link anchor text. In short, shift your linking strategies to focus even more on the reader experience.
For example, if you have a press release or guest blog posts that is littered with keyword rich anchor text, you'll need to switch this up. See below:
Google's example of an unnatural link
An example that Google provides for what qualifies as an unnatural link is:
"Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites. For example:
However, what Google's Link Schemes document doesn't tell us is whether Google passes any search value to any anchor text links in your press releases. The example above is obviously keyword stuffing at its worst and should definitely be avoided with any type of marketing content you produce (hopefully you're saying nodding your ahead in agreement right now). Frankly, keyword stuffing is annoying to read and is almost always a red flag to readers. But what about those of us who try to do the right thing by adding a few anchor text links throughout a press release? Are we affected negatively too?
What You Need to Change in your Marketing Efforts
Here's the thing: There's no denying that links are important in press releases.
Not only do they drive traffic back to your website, but they also ensure that you can capture leads for the offer you are promoting. Where we trip is when we start using them strictly for SEO purposes.
Shift your thinking. Rather than using them solely for SEO purposes, use them to drive awareness, and drive traffic back to your website. Honestly, the only authentic and organic SEO benefit of press releases and guests blog posts is if a journalist or blogger picks up the article because it's dynamic, writes about it on their own forum and links back to you. That's as natural as it gets. So, as always, with any marketing content, create readable and sharable, and remarkable content. If you're creating a press release for traffic and SEO purposes only, stop and utilize that time elsewhere.
Key Takeaway: Stay away from using SEO fueled anchor text for your links in press releases. It will hurt you in Google and alienate your readers.
A Good Example of Anchor Text in Press Releases
Firstly, don't be afraid of anchor text now that we have these new rules. In your next press release do something like this:
Click here to learn more about how a developing buyer personas can help accelerate your marketing efforts.
And stay away from:
Download the ebook about developing the best marketing buyer personas to accelerate your marketing efforts.
It's simple right?