As far as the SEO world is concerned, 2012 was certainly the “Year of the Penguin”, with Google Penguin updates hitting hard on those that had practiced low quality link building activity in the past. In particular, over-optimised anchor text was one of the significant factors that brought websites with a questionable link profile unstuck. Unfortunately for many site owners, this activity had been carried out by external parties and left them with no knowledge of how to identify their sudden decrease in rankings and traffic. The first step to identify what could be the cause of ranking decreases related to Google Penguin updates is to review your website’s link profile.
Using Open Site Explorer to Review Your Anchor Text
For the purpose of this demonstration I’ve chosen a neutral party that we have no connection with to ensure an un-biased review. We will look at the link profile of gotalk, a telecommunications provider.
Step 1. Finding the Anchor Text Report
Head to http://www.opensiteexplorer.org and enter the URL that you wish to review (see image below):
Once you click search, on the next page reviewing the website, click on the “Anchor Text” tab. Here you have the option to “Show Anchor Text to this page” and also to “Show Anchor Text to all pages on this root domain” (circled in red). As you review your link profile both options are useful, as discussed further below.
Step 2. Identifying Pages with Over-Optimised Anchor Text
In the initial stages of reviewing your link profile, it can be difficult at times to discover those pages that have been over-optimised. Changing the setting in the first instance to review all pages on the root domain enables you to view the anchor text of every incoming link to the domain. From here you can expand each phrase to look at the incoming links. Next we visit those links and are immediately able to see which page they are linking to. Complete this process for all terms that have a significant number of links (we like to start with any over 10 linking root domains for the same phrase, depending on the size of the website and number of incoming phrases) and you have discovered all of your potential problem pages.
By visiting the dollarlinksdirectory link below we can identify the page that this anchor text is linking to, as per the below:
Step 3. Reviewing the Anchor Text of Each Page
Now that we’ve identified a potential problem page, we enter its URL into Open Site Explorer and review its anchor text, with our setting as “Show anchor text for links to this page”, as below:
Looking at the above profile you can now see that the incoming anchor text to this page consists predominantly of only two phrases – “mobile broadband” and “prepaid mobile broadband”. While there are certainly much worse cases of over-optimisation, what has been identified is that there is a slight over-optimisation of anchor text through link building activity.
This type of review for your website is considered valuable whether you have experienced ranking decreases as a result of Penguin updates or not. Identifying pages that could be potential target of future updates gives you the chance to act on a strategy to tidy up or improve your link profile pro-actively, ensuring that you website is of the highest quality and can continue to improve rankings and traffic through SEO.