Google has been raging a war against search engine manipulation for more than 10 years now. And it’s understandable. Their most used and most profitable product is their search engine, and in order to stay number one (by a wide margin), they need to offer user the best search experience possible. Essentially, that entails giving users the most relevant and highest quality results possible.
There are those who seek to manipulate the search results find holes in the Google algorithm and exploit them for their own benefit. There is nothing wrong with doing your best to get other websites to link to your site and boost your site rank, but there are a number of spammy tactics that some people use to get their sites to rank. One of these is to use “exact match anchor text” on a large scale.
For example, if you want your website to rank for “silk pillow cases,” you can submit links to directories or blogging networks with the text “silk pillow cases.” But this exact match keyword text link appears unnatural if 75% of the links coming to your site look exactly the same. And this is what Google has targeted in its latest search algorithm update to thwart manipulation, dubbed, Penguin.
So what does this mean for reputation management?
Well, in most ways, this is a very good thing for reputation management. The Penguin update is an update to the algorithm that looks at the backlink profile of a site, specifically the anchor text distribution. Google has determined that a “natural” link profile has about 60-80% of its links with branded anchor text, another 10-20% has keyword anchor text, and the last 10-20% is made of link noise (i.e., “click here,” “go here,” etc.)
Because, most of the time, reputation management is about creating a positive search results page for one keyword—often a personal name, company name, or brand—your reputation management strategy is in a good position when it comes to not getting penalized by Penguin. In general, linkbuilding for reputation management means having a personal, company, or brand name as the anchor text. But if other websites in your search are overoptimized for those keywords, they could be penalized and the material you want to promote can move up.
However, that doesn’t mean that everything is peachy keen. Although the majority of your backlinks contain branded terms or your name, to make sure you aren’t penalized, place a number of links that contain link noise as well—up to 20%. That means that every once in a while, don’t make links like “company name.” Rather, create some link noise, like anchor text containing “click here” or “see more.”
The more natural you can make your backlink profile look for the websites you want to rank, the better. That way you’ll avoid any Penguin penalties and be one step closer to shaping the SERP you desire.