What are we taking away from Google’s SEO Link Best Practices?
The new Google documentation on best practices for links provides some solid advice for any site, Google and non-Google alike. It also has important connections to what we know about algorithms, HTML and link analysis.
Here are three takeaways found in Google’s updated SEO Link Best Practices.
Chaining links doesn’t work in your favour
Chaining links means when you add links close together so that each linked word does not adequately communicate what the linked page is about. For example, if a website has a link to “Our Company,” then a second link to “Projects” and then a third link to “Our Projects by Year” is chaining links. The reader never knows what projects are being discussed just from reading the words “Our Projects By Year”
The text that surrounds and provides context for a link is lost when you chain links. This can be distracting as you read through articles, discussions, and comments. “Don’t chain up links next to each other; it’s harder for your readers to distinguish between links, and you lose surrounding text for each link”, says Google.
Writing valid HTML will make it easier to understand your pages. These are important for both humans and Google. Additionally, understanding when it is appropriate to use HTML elements and titles will help you write valid HTML that Google understands.
Writing quality anchor text using natural language
Natural language is important for making sure that content is properly search-optimized. Google’s AI and machine learning algorithms are focused on understanding natural language because of its importance to users, so you should use this human-friendly language whenever possible in order to compete with the best sites on the Internet.
The search engine doesn’t hand out “points” just because your content has the right keywords. It wants to see how those keywords are used and how they contribute to a well-structured page that’s useful to someone searching for a specific topic on Google.
Google’s algorithms are designed to interpret text, primarily as it relates to topics and context. It makes sense then, to write clear and easy-to-understand content.
Google’s link guidance was published over a year ago and most SEO experts like to think of it as an old-school strategy. In fact, according to Google’s new guidance on links, thinking about context and using natural language is a best practice for link anchor text.
If you’re trying to rank for a particular keyword on Google, then it makes sense to write natural anchor text for the most relevant parts of a page. BERT (and its predecessor) read sentences and phrases and understands what they mean. If you write natural anchor text that Google can understand, then your page has a much better chance of ranking well.
Anchor text should never be too long
Google’s latest guidelines state that long anchor text is a bad practice and recommends using shorter, more succinct (to-the-point) descriptions.
Valid code is essential to creating a quality user experience. When implemented correctly and designed carefully, using appropriate HTML can lead to a site that’s easy to understand, use and maintain—all of which are core principles of Google’s best practices.
This shows how essential using HTML correctly is.
- It’s important to consider what happens when you chain links. The text around the link and above/below it is lost when you do so, which can be distracting.
- Google’s AI and machine learning algorithms are focused on understanding natural language because of its importance to users. This can help you in a number of ways, especially when it comes to search optimization. You should use this human-friendly language whenever possible in order to compete with the best sites on the Internet.
- The latest guidelines from Google state that long, descriptive anchor text is a bad practice and recommends using shorter, more succinct descriptions.