As a recent initiate into the world of SEO and digital marketing, one thing I have found troubling is the tendency of many in the industry to sacrifice quality for quantity, particularly when it comes to content and search phrases.
There is a great need for a more organic incorporation of anchor text when creating content. Search phrases that are grammatically incorrect such as “children photography”, or those that are lacking correct punctuation simply make your article look unprofessional. These phrases can sometimes be incredibly difficult to work in, and whilst that is part of the challenge of being a copywriter, it can also lead to awkwardly-worded sentences that distract the reader and make it blatantly obvious that you are trying to promote a product or service. In short, it’s simply a dressed-up version of spam.
This may sound like the ranting of a picky English major – which, by the way, it is – but as digital marketing agencies transition from by-the-book SEO strategies to more innovative methods of promoting their clients, now is the time to rectify issues that have been plaguing what can otherwise be described as high-quality content. There is definitely room for maintaining a standard of professionally-written pieces for online PR whilst still incorporating quality calls to action that will lead to customer conversion.
SEO Moz provides some excellent advice on avoiding generic links and anchor text.
• Synonyms are your friend! No, really. Varying the key phrases that you want to include by using words with similar meanings avoids excessive repetition, and can increase your page’s ranking relevance. Google essentially measures the number phrases that are related to your anchor text, not simply the anchor text itself.
• Incorporate anchor text in such a way that it sounds natural, and accurately describes the link which you have included. This means that writers should be provided with the necessary links, but should also be allowed to create their own anchor text to fit the tone of their article.
• Namedrop. Use the names of actual brands, companies and people when creating content. In this manner, you can incorporate a number of links without your post sounding completely unnatural.
The moral of this story is for marketers to strike a balance between high-volume keywords, and those that actually make sense. Websites and online PR articles are essentially the face of your client and their brand – a badly-written piece littered with errors and oddly-placed anchor text does not connote an air of success or professionalism.
Furthermore, the higher the quality of the writing and content itself – see Rebecca’s posts for more info on that – the higher the quality of the blogs that you will be invited to post on. These blogs in turn tend to have a wider audience, which leads to increased brand exposure.
As my colleagues repeatedly tell me, a few good quality links are worth far more than a huge number posted on blogs that nobody reads.
Citations are an alternate method for getting brand exposure. Listings in local directories, or mentions of your company name on a business website can promote your product or service. However, the crucial difference between citations and anchor text is that citations do not link back to your website. Citations are valuable in that they promote an air of authenticity – directories, blogs and newspaper articles are authoritative sources, and only promote legitimate companies. Your inclusion in a directory or mention on an industry website signals that you are part of the business community.
Co-citations, meanwhile, are a measure of the popular similarity between two items – if two articles, for instance, are referenced by a third party, the two are said to be related, even if they do not directly reference each other. Essentially, if your content makes an impact in the world of the web, it will influence the direction of other people’s posts, and Google will measure this impact that you have had in your particular industry.
Co-citations are much harder to manipulate than anchor text, as they have to be earned. Indeed, anchor text may go the way of the dodo, as search engine algorithms become more and more advanced. The provision of fresh, unique and interesting content is important, now more than ever, and Google will reward you for this. If your digital marketing agency wants to remain relevant in an industry that is constantly adapting and evolving, then you have to be at the forefront of trend-setting, and not part of the crowd.