A recent episode of "30 Rock" actually inspired this blog post. In this particular episode, Kenneth (a character centered on the innocence of a child, working at a big corporation) is talking with Jack Donaghy (the boss) about different birthday presents they received throughout their life. Jack says “Kenneth, I wonder what it’s like seeing the world through your eyes.”
“I don’t know,” Kenneth says. “I think I see the world pretty much the same as everyone else.”
“Really?” says Jack, as we are then favored with a special musical number from Muppet-like puppets, which, apparently is how Kenneth sees the world. Very funny.
So, how do you see the world? And the bigger question is, how does Google see your world? More specifically, how does Google see your website?
A website has all kinds of different indicators that come together to tell Google how to see your site. H1 and H2 tags are very important, as are the Meta Titles and the Meta Descriptions; and beyond that--content. All that lovely content you spend hours writing is then indexed by the spiders that Google sends out to the web. Then the only thing left is for them to sift through it all and figure out what it is about.
So, how does Google see your content? To put it simply, they look for the words that stand out above the rest, such as titles above a paragraph, and anchor text links. An anchor text link is a link within your content that uses a word or phrase that can be clicked on to go to the embedded address. The address is not shown in the text, only the word or phrase is highlighted as a hyperlink. And it just so happens that this is a great way to show Google what the focus of your content is.
Imagine if you were looking for a few of your friends in a crowd of a thousand people. Although you may know exactly what they look like, and maybe even what they’re wearing, it would be tough to find them, and all the other people around you would be very distracting. But what if your friends were all wearing bright-blue vests and were each up on their own pedestal, putting them six feet above the crowd? Not so tough any more, right? That’s what anchor text in your content is like to Google.
Now, just like anything else with SEO, anchor text is often used in the wrong way. It’s very important to make sure that your anchor text uses the right word or phrase. So, let’s do some examples with “Good Idea, Bad Idea” (for all you Animaniacs fans out there):
Good Idea for Anchor Text: Check out this blog post on misspelled keywords.
Bad Idea for Anchor Text: If you’re looking for a great blog post on misspelled keywords, click here.
(Homework Assignment: try typing the words "click here" in the Google search bar. It’s interesting to see who is ranking for that term!)
Good Idea for Anchor Text: In my opinion, the claim that SEO is recession proof is true for many reasons.
Bad Idea for Anchor Text: If you would like to read more about how I believe SEO is recession proof, click here.
In the first bad idea example, as you can see, I gave Google pretty much nothing to work with in my anchor text. Whereas, when I used “misspelled keywords” as the anchor text, I told Google exactly how to see that link. But more importantly, I showed them where to put the emphasis when indexing the text.
In the second bad idea example, I gave too many words to emphasize, and now the whole sentence stands out, not just the keywords. This is just as commonly used as the first bad idea, and just as misleading to Google.
So, good to know, right? Now, don’t go crazy and start putting an internal anchor text on every keyword or phrase on your site. Include keyword links within your content where it makes sense. This will go a long way in telling Google how to see your world.