homepage Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 54.205.189.156
register, free tools, login, search, pro membership, help, library, announcements, recent posts, open posts,
Pubcon Platinum Sponsor 2014
Home / Forums Index / Marketing and Biz Dev / Link Development
Forum Library, Charter, Moderators: martinibuster

Link Development Forum

This 32 message thread spans 2 pages: 32 ( [1] 2 > >     
Natural is Unnatural
grant




msg:412971
 10:41 pm on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

We've all heard link builders say over and over again that we should be using different link text in incoming links. On the surface level, this sounds sensible.

But I have audited the incoming links of 10 clients. I use a backlink analyzer that dumps backlinks into an excel spreadsheet. I can see the link text for each link quite easily. (Each client as at least 150 links, all "natural" in that the client didn't acquire them through SEO but rather brand awareness).

What I am seeing is that about 90% of the link text is *exactly the same*. What is it? It's the name of the organization.

Natural link text is often exactly the same text.

So what is natural and what is artificial?

 

dreamache




msg:412972
 1:49 am on Mar 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

you're right.

i think it only makes sense that the natural backlink text for a specific document is always the same if it's natural.. (usually the <title> tag).

but you have to make sure to change up the anchor text if you're trying to build backlinks to a page OTHER than your home page.. each page needs its own anchor text - because if backlinks were to develop naturally over 5 different pages of a website, you'd see that each page would have different backlink text from the other.

so yeah, i know for SURE by analyzing google results, that sites can rank perfectly fine if the same anchor text is used for each individual page. just be sure not to request the same backlink text for different pages.

graywolf




msg:412973
 2:36 am on Mar 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

How about looking at the surrounding text both before and after the anchor text.

pageoneresults




msg:412974
 2:53 am on Mar 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

So what is natural?

Someone finds your site interesting and just links to you out of the blue from maybe an article or something.

And what is artificial?

Your link sitting on a page with 15, 20, 30 others surrounded by AdSense and other revenue generating ads.

ken_b




msg:412975
 4:31 am on Mar 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Pageone; I've got to respectfully disagree here.

Allow me to defend the lowly links page. My contention is that while in content links can be natural, links pages are at least as natural.

So what is natural?

Someone finds your site interesting and just links to you out of the blue from maybe an article or something.

I'll go along with that as long as the "or something" is an on page "related links section or an internal link to a links page/section.

Otherwise in-content is no more natural than a links page. It's also probably at least as abused as links pages.

How many times can webmasters be told to link from content because it's more natural before it becomes a hallmark of unatural linking?

Beyond that, how many links can you embed in a content "article"? It might be natural to embed a link or two in an article, beyond that I have to believe that what's really going on is writing amd posting "articles" just so you have someplace to put a link. What's natural about that? The exception to how many links fit in an article might be the more scholarly articles that contain several inline linked references to relevant material.

If you're going to link out from a content page, and have more than handful of relevant links the natural thing to do is probably list a very few links on the page in a "related links" section with an internal link to a links page containing the rest of those relevant links. The "content" on those links pages would probably consist of something like a brief note encouraging visitors to click through and check out the sites listed.

And what is artificial?

Your link sitting on a page with 15, 20, 30 others surrounded by AdSense and other revenue generating ads.

These pages have probably been around since the beginning of the WWW. The argument about the number of links on a page seems to be mostly concerned with how much PR the link will pass, and there is nothing natural about that concern. Natural links pages might well have 20, 30, or 100 links on a single page.

In the beginning the search performance of these pages probably wasn't given a second thought. Which is probaly still the height of natural linking, especially when the anchor text consists of the site or business name with a description or comment consisting of a few or even several unlinked words, if any, accompaning the linked site/business name.

Before PR came along having just the site/business name as anchor text served the purpose quite well, and it still does. Of course unless your 4 hyphen domain name matches your site/business name you might lose some of the anchor text benefit. But then "relevant anchor text" is probably more closely related to the vote concept than it is to simply linking truely relevant content.

The reality is that both in content links and links pages have been abused. That doesn't make either more or less natural than the other.

grant




msg:412976
 6:45 am on Mar 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

just links to you out of the blue from maybe an article or something

What does "out of the blue" linking look like?

Additionally, many of the link pages in this excel document show anywhere from 5-150 links on a page. Many sites not created by SEOs have "links" pages that are stuffed with links. Again, what is natural?

It seems that for many "unnatural" scenarios, there are many reasons why such a scenario is perfectly natural.

martinibuster




msg:412977
 10:20 am on Mar 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Natural is Unnatural

I think it's more like, "The commonly held idea of Natural is Unnatural"

It always makes me wince when people say or post, "Build naturally" and then proceed to list random percentages (15% directories, 10% paid links, 60% reciprocals, lol) that in their mind represents "natural." Natural my foot!

Are links pages natural? I think to a certain extent (small), yes. Several pages of link pages starts to look weird, imo.

I was just over at SERoundtable [seroundtable.com] going over the excellent Link Q&A coverage and Aaron D'Souza of Google had some great things to say. Aaron is a cool guy (next pubcon forget Matt, swarm Aaron, lol). Here is something he said that I thought was interesting:

When you do misuse any given signal, at the end of the day, “fairly stupid” computers are analyzing the info and will eventually diminish the value of links, since they may not necessarily be a reliable method of determining relevancy any more.

Regarding recips, he says this:

...you would imagine that SEW has the majority of its links coming from non-reciprocal sources. In this case a few reciprocals won’t “hurt.” Essentially, you shouldn’t use too many.

Seriously, look for this guy at the Boston pubcon, ask questions. He won't spill any secrets but he gives a lot of common sense answers that are good.

sonjay




msg:412978
 12:51 pm on Mar 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

A Google representative actually said "will eventually diminish the value of links, since they may not necessarily be a reliable method of determining relevancy any more"? Wow.... if and when that happens, that would represent a sea change in Google's algorithm, wouldn't it?

I've thought for a long time that links have been overvalued. I'm cautiously optimistic that Google will come around to that way of thinking.

sugarrae




msg:412979
 2:56 pm on Mar 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>we should be using different link text in incoming links.

I think there are a few things to take into account here. The first is that it is a top level statement. Vary your anchor text is a way of telling people "If you anchor text to all pages on your site is 98% the same, it looks weird" without giving away the underlying information or specifics that you've spent years studying or building knowledge on (that is a general and not specific statement).

As far as looking at competitors and saying "well, all their anchor is the same" - take into account that you need to age the inbound links, age the site you're looking at, see the number of homepage vs. internal links, look at internal linking structure and a plethora of other factors. Anchor text is one factor IMHO. Maybe the other factors cause them to rank in spite of it. Maybe not.

The top level answer is that your inbound linking should look natural. As MB said, not everyone has the same concept of natural. To me, natural means that the links should make sense, even if a search engine didn't exist.

buckworks




msg:412980
 3:07 pm on Mar 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

the links should make sense, even if a search engine didn't exist

Yes. YES.

If you can honestly say yes to the question, "Would this link make good sense to a human user?" then it's a good link.

You can drive yourself nuts trying to chase all the variables that might make a difference, and the balance will be different in a month or two anyhow. If you focus on one thing ... getting your links in front of well-targeted eyes ... everything else will fall into place well enough.

ownerrim




msg:412981
 4:56 pm on Mar 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

What I am seeing is that about 90% of the link text is *exactly the same*. What is it? It's the name of the organization.

Natural link text is often exactly the same text."

I'm sure this is the case for thousands of sites. Let's say you are going after the "expert dog grooming" niche. If your site is called "expert dog grooming" why wouldn't others link to you with this text and why wouldn't a large majority of them use identical text?. It's simply logical...and natural.

Google is mainly about common sense. Most forum threads, on the other hand, are primarily about conjecture, heresay, and pure paranoia.

willybfriendly




msg:412982
 5:16 pm on Mar 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

What is it? It's the name of the organization.

Which makes perfect sense.

A link to the Bellagio Hotel and Casino would more likely be exactly that than it would, "on line gambling".

THre was a time when anchor text meant a lot. Perhaps not so much anymore?

WBF

sugarrae




msg:412983
 6:54 pm on Mar 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>It's the name of the organization

Well, that to me would definately be natural. But, if the organization's name was Widget Helper and 90% of its inbound anchors was "discount blue widgets", that may not be so natural.

Liane




msg:412984
 7:48 pm on Mar 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

THre was a time when anchor text meant a lot. Perhaps not so much anymore?

WBF ... perhaps, but I think not. For instance:

Let's just say that you own a site with a picture of a cute kitten on the home page. Mary's aunt sees this picture and thinks it looks exactly like Mary's kitten named Vixen. She has a family web site or a blog and writes all about Mary's kitten and links to the photo on your home page titled "The Kats Pajamas" and you sell Pajamas. Suddenly you have a link to your site with the anchor text "Viven".

Now Mary has a large family and they all have web sites or blogs. Mary doesn't have a digital camera, so everyone starts linking back and forth to your site using "Vixen" in the anchor text. Several months later, Mary's aunt is looking in her log files and finds all sorts of hits on her site for the term "Vixen".

It happens and that is what natural linking is all about!

My site comes up first for a commonly misspelled name. I have not misspelled it anywhere on my web site ... but I have found at least a dozen inbound links which are all misspelled the same way.

Natural links are links you did not buy, trade or solicit. They come from anywhere and everywhere all over the web. In my case, I get a lot of travel forums linking to my site. Some of the anchor text is way off the mark in regards to what the page is actually about ... but who cares? Its all good!

I am a strong proponent of natural linking. Its the kind of link you can't buy, barter or trade. Its pure magic! Bring on the natural links and stop all this nonsense with dozens and dozens of links (and no content) on a page. They are useless and serve virtually no purpose!

And just in case you don't believe switching around your anchor text works ... just keep believing that won't you? It will make my job so much easier! :)

willybfriendly




msg:412985
 6:40 am on Mar 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Liane - I can not disagree in whole with your point here. And, you do describe natural linking. In the scenario you lay out we can assume that there is a great deal of anchor text that does not contain the word vixen, correct?

WBF

Liane




msg:412986
 9:16 am on Mar 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

In the scenario you lay out we can assume that there is a great deal of anchor text that does not contain the word vixen, correct?

Yes. Many of the incoming links will obviously have the name of the site in the anchor text or just the word "pajamas" on its own. If the site is extremely popular and "Vixen" is used in anchor text in several places, it will suddenly start popping up for that as a search result as well.

I've seen it happen on my own site a few times times. It always perplexes me until I look in my log files and start finding the links.

All I'm saying about anchor text is that while it is important that your site be recognizable by your company name, it is important to mix up the anchor text a little too.

Ladies pajamas
Mens Pajamas
Kids Pajamas
Pajamas
Sleepwear
Baby Dolls
Silk Pajamas ... etc.

seo_guy




msg:412987
 9:21 am on Mar 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Ok, so in this investigation the user finds that many sites have a static anchor text, but this does not take into account the content of the site.

I mean yeah it makes sense for a corporate site with very little change in content since publication to have all the same anchor text, likely the corporate name or domain name, more so if the site is very heavily branded (Im sure walmart.com have mostly "Walmart" anchors.

But what about sites with constantly changing content such as blogs and forums. I mean if the topics and content change on the main page sometimes by the minute, users encountering the sites will likely make mention of the site based on what they encounter at the time, thus the anchor text would (In a natural situation) vary much more.

So is constant anchor text natural? Yes, Sometimes.
Is varying anchor text natural? Yes, Sometimes.
So what is the answer - I think one would have to look at the nature of the content in comparison to the anchor text to decide whether the links natural occurence coincided with the instance of change in the content (Or something like this) - its 2am, might just be rambling

Liane




msg:412988
 11:21 am on Mar 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

seo-guy,

Yes, you are quite right and the search engines can suss out what is natural and not natural quite easily given that they have all the data.

However, I recently had a competitor go after a search phrase for which one of my internal pages had been number one for the past three years. He kept at it and kept at it and finally managed to grab the number one spot. To be honest, it was a phrase I had never even gone after in the first place, but it provided steady traffic to my site, so I wanted to reclaim the number one spot.

So ... when a webmaster in my area asked me if he could use one of my images to put on his site, I told him sure! I never ask for links back to my site, but in this case I did because it was timely and I wanted something out of it.

I asked him for a link to a particular page and said, "Please use "these keywords" in your anchor text to my site rather than the company name". Worked like a charm and the next update, I was right back in number one spot for that particular search phrase! :)

I am sure my competitor is scratching his head, wondering why he lost his spot as nothing on my page changed.

Anchor text on incoming links is important ... more so if the page linking in has a reasonable PR and the page they are linking to actually has something to do with the phrase used. ;)

The same logic applies to your own internal links.

grant




msg:412989
 4:51 am on Mar 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

The top level answer is that your inbound linking should look natural. As MB said, not everyone has the same concept of natural.

As long as there is not consensus on what "unnatural" is, I'll bet the search engines can't detect it.

The quote above first says that our links SHOULD look natural, but then skirts the issue of what natural is.

See, this is kind of unsubstantiated SEO paranoia that I was trying to bring to people's attention when I started this post.

As long as there cannot be consensus on what is natural, search engines are not going to come down hard on sites that have 90% of the incoming link text the same, or 90% varied.

Paranoid myths about links:

1. Having the link text all the same is bad
2. Getting links too fast is bad

At the SES last August in San Jose, I attended the Q&A with the engineers. I can't recall the engineer's name from Yahoo, but he made a statement to the effect "if I saw a page that was just full of text links and not a whole lot of content, I might think that looks spammy".

When the microphone came my way I told him that what he had described ironically sounded a lot like Yahoo's homepage (to which he didn't respond, presumably noting the comment to be well-taken).

I then made my point that for *virtually* any given "spam" scenario, I can think of several reasons why that scenario would be "natural".

Of course, the engineers have to stick with vague statements regarding their ability to detect "unnatural" linking, which is why MB's citation of the Google engineer stating that links are going to become less influential is particularly noteworthy.

martinibuster




msg:412990
 5:24 am on Mar 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

So is constant anchor text natural? Yes, Sometimes.
Is varying anchor text natural? Yes, Sometimes.

I think looking exclusively at the anchor text and trying to come up with the answer to the question of whether it is hot or not is like holding the elephants trunk and attempting to identify the species of snake it is.

You may have to broaden your perspective to encompass other considerations. Not just the links, but the links in conjunction with other signals that together match a profile of hot or not.

I think this is the reason some of the answers to the question of natural or unnatural contain paradoxes or inconsistencies.

CainIV




msg:412991
 7:04 am on Mar 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

When the microphone came my way I told him that what he had described ironically sounded a lot like Yahoo's homepage (to which he didn't respond, presumably noting the comment to be well-taken).

True, but this is like telling the cop when he pulls you over that he went thru a red light to get to you...

grant




msg:412992
 2:26 am on Mar 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

[True, but this is like telling the cop when he pulls you over that he went thru a red light to get to you... ]

You missed the point. The point is that it is MUCH more difficult to create profiles than SEs are willing to admit.

MarketingHelpers




msg:412993
 6:28 pm on Mar 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

What you all are saying is totally on point. Sometimes I get the feeling that all the search engine folks are using scare tactics on us Web developers/SEOers by telling us that making natural site is better than trying to make a site caterted to pleasing the search engines because they can't figure out how to develop an algorithm that actually produces quality Web sites 100% of the time. They probably never will either but they'll die trying.

Any search you do on any search engine will produce results that contain these spammy looking Web sites loaded with Adsense ads and what not. Quite a few of my Web sites have a lot of competition with sites that are nothing but links and ads. They all have high PRs too. I can easily find links to my competition from Web sites specifically setup to boost the link popularity of my compeitors Web site.

I'm not condoaning building spammy sites or using questionable ways to get ranked higher but it is quite interesting that all of this talk of it must look "natural" and do it this way and not this way is all a result of the highly competitive SEO services market.

The high competition in the SEO industry is causing SEO firms to come up with new USP's or gimmicks to earn business. They say Company A does FILL IN OLD BUZZ WORD and we do SEO FILL IN NEW BUZZ WORD way, which is better because..EXPLAIN WHY NEW BUZZ WORD IS BETTER THAN OLD BUZZ WORD.

There is a fundamental problem with defining and profiling what a good, natural, Web site is. Google wants everyone to have a constantly updated Web site with fresh content. Unfortunatly, when I mention this to most small businesses owners they don't want to spend the money it takes to develop fresh content and for a lot of businesses fresh content just does not make any sense.

Rani




msg:412994
 6:46 pm on Mar 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

The high competition in the SEO industry is causing SEO firms to come up with new USP's or gimmicks to earn business. They say Company A does FILL IN OLD BUZZ WORD and we do SEO FILL IN NEW BUZZ WORD way, which is better because..EXPLAIN WHY NEW BUZZ WORD IS BETTER THAN OLD BUZZ WORD.

I totally agree.

The old buzzword used to be : "Black hat - White hat"

The new buzzword is : "Natural - Unnatural"

[edited by: Rani at 6:49 pm (utc) on Mar. 12, 2006]

martinibuster




msg:412995
 6:47 pm on Mar 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Unfortunatly, when I mention this to most small businesses owners they don't want to spend the money it takes to develop fresh content and for a lot of businesses fresh content just does not make any sense.

Since when does the tail wag the dog? Most of my clients see the importance of this and do it. It's in how you integrate it into the site.

Why can't you have a product page with a paragraph of text at the bottom of the page? It's silly not to.

Funny thing about that is I just did a few gambling related searches on Google and the top sites are content heavy gambling sites, a forum, and wikipedia.

So much for building content in a competitive niche?

MarketingHelpers




msg:412996
 7:12 pm on Mar 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Since when does the tail wag the dog?Most of my clients see the importance of this and do it. It's in how you integrate it into the site.

I have had 3 or 4 clients tell me that they don't want to write articles and what not to build content. They feel the content is watered down, expensive and time consuming to produce and maintain, and really don't understand how improtant it is even if I explain that it is until I turn red.

Why can't you have a product page with a paragraph of text at the bottom of the page? It's silly not to.

Agreed. However, not all my clients are selling products. One is an architect, one is a CEO consultant, and one is a dry cleaner....see where I am coming from?

So much for building content in a competitive niche?

And now I am starting to see SEO experts say SEO experts that look at keyword density don't know what they are doing, or talking about.

I think it is important to look at keyword density of your competition to get an idea of how you need to develop your content.

MarketingHelpers




msg:412997
 7:18 pm on Mar 12, 2006 (gmt 0)


The old buzzword used to be : "Black hat - White hat"

The new buzzword is : "Natural - Unnatural"

that and now were seeing a focus on grabbing localized search optimization business and less targeting niche keywords.

I think this because we are running out of low competition keyphrase options. Or at least Wordtracker is.

Swebbie




msg:412998
 7:46 pm on Mar 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

The most natural anchor text is "click here" or the URL. Imagine if every link out there was something nebulous and completely non-descriptive, like "click here." Isn't that the most natural way of dumbing down the invitation to present a new web page? I want to recommend to my readers another page, so I have copy that describes or leads into a natural segue, then write something like, "to find out more, click here," or "You can read more about it at [URL]."

Without any other considerations, which almost always introduce elements of unnaturalness, most of us would use these very simplistic linking methods. It's only because the search engines need a way to categorize links that so many webmasters began using artificial anchor text in such high numbers. Anyone remember the Web in 1995? I'll wager for every link that wasn't "click here" (or some close variation) or the URL itself, there were 100 or more that WERE in that format. So, is natural what the SEs REALLY want? Nope. They want what they define as natural for their ALGORITHMS. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, but they should acknowledge that their own existene and technical limitations are the biggest sources of unnatural linking text, by far. Just my 2¢.

MarketingHelpers




msg:412999
 9:53 pm on Mar 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I feel ya Sweebie...The bottom line SEO IS doing the things the SE's like. If I hear that you should build a Web site naturally I am going to puke.

I am starting to think that the whole "we optimize your site naturally" bit is a front for "we don't really want to tell you what we are doing so we'll make up this natural bit so it sounds like we are telling you something but we really aren't telling you didly squat"

SEO's that claim they just write and build content naturally around their keyword without putting some thought into how often they use the keywords on their page or in their links are simply hiding what they are doing so you or anyone else doesn't find out their true SEO process.

Robert Charlton




msg:413000
 10:09 pm on Mar 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

The most natural anchor text is "click here" or the URL.

Perhaps Google knows this and takes it into account. ;)

This 32 message thread spans 2 pages: 32 ( [1] 2 > >
Global Options:
 top home search open messages active posts  
 

Home / Forums Index / Marketing and Biz Dev / Link Development
rss feed

All trademarks and copyrights held by respective owners. Member comments are owned by the poster.
Home ¦ Free Tools ¦ Terms of Service ¦ Privacy Policy ¦ Report Problem ¦ About ¦ Library ¦ Newsletter
WebmasterWorld is a Developer Shed Community owned by Jim Boykin.
© Webmaster World 1996-2014 all rights reserved