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Look to Link Age

Link age is an important, but often overlooked, factor in search algorithms (especially Google’s). Not all links are equal, no doubt, and not all links need to be aged.

Get a link from The New York Times, did ya? Congratulations, and I’m sure you’ll see the juice from that make a difference in your ranks right away.

Score five links on some random blogs that get crawled maybe once every three weeks? Those will likely need to be aged for a few months before they give you their full SEO reward.

Ranking takes time, not only because the process for growing a link profile is slow, but also because the actual scoring factors of a link (internal PageRank, anchor text, context, neighborhood, relevance, recency, transience) need to be aged and vetted over time.

Sound link building takes time. Links you secure today may not give you the full punch those same exact links give after they’ve been live online for 6 or 12 months. That’s why pages that have earned rankings through natural, quality, and aged links always earn a sort of inertia that makes them very hard to move.

SEO work you do today should still pay dividends in two years. You may not even see results start to really kick in until four or six months after your big content and marketing work is completed.

When you introduce an artificial element (anchor text spam) to a natural signal (the link profile), you introduce irrelevance and spam in Google’s index.

Instead of creating links with exact-match anchor text, you should:

  • Work hard to build great, unique content and resources that are real contributions on the web. Provide value that builds links over time based on its own merit.
  • Focus on long-term partnerships.
  • Focus on niche communities or key influencers that your message will resonate with, that your content will be relevant for.
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If you do this, the changes Google is rolling out with anchor text won’t matter.

The same principle can be applied to SEO at a high level. By staying true to search marketing principles, rather than chase the latest and greatest SEO fad, you will be averse to the mutability of search algorithms as they shift rapidly over time.

So Does Anchor Text Even Matter?

Anchor text matters immensely, but must not be abused and hammered on.

As SEOs, we need to get away from the fanatical obsession on exact match anchor text. It will give us an advantage against our competitors who aren’t as forward-thinking, and put is in line with relevance and what Google wants in its search results. It will put us in line with where search engines are going 2011.

Yes, Google’s search quality may be suffering. But it isn’t deteriorating.

More than anything, it’s probably due to scale. The web is just too big, too vast, with too much spam, to be modeled in the way it was even three years ago.

You can bet Google will catch up with the spammers, though. Relevance is their bread and butter.

Another bet you can make: this trend of discontent with Google is a sign of a shift taking place, a change, and that influencers and power users online will increasingly grow tired of having one solution in search. We are all hungry for real competition and real options.

It’s no fun having Google dominate. We want Bing and Blekko and DuckDuckGo! We want options, and we want relevance.

As SEOs, we’re in a unique position to help in that regard. Put quality out there! Help make the web a better place. And stop spamming your anchor text.

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