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Building Links But Sinking in Google – Why?

by PotPieGirl on January 15, 2011 · 66 comments

Can You Have Too Many Backlinks? How To Tell


A very common question I get is, “I’m building backlinks like crazy but my rankings are getting WORSE in Google – not better! Why?!?!?!” It is SO frustrating when this happens – especially when you’re new. The “experts” tell you to go build links back to your web page with the phrase you want to rank for as the anchor text – simple, right? Yes, it is simple – to a point. That point is when you ask for help in that situation and folks tell you – “just keep building links and be patient”. That may not be the best advice in all situations – Here’s why…



Another “P” Word for 2011


As I talked about in my previous post, 2011 is the year of “P” words for me (read that post here). “Patience” is one of those words that I plan to incorporate more into my daily business activities and my overall attitude.


When you’re building links and things aren’t working the way you’d like right away, patience is called for. However, sometimes it’s a good idea to be PROACTIVE before deciding our next move…or whether we make a move or not.


When you have a brand new site, it is VERY common for Google to dance it all over the place until it decides what to do with you and you “settle in”. Sometimes, you may fall out of the Google index completely. It happens all the time and it’s nothing to freak out about (and yes, I know it’s hard to NOT freak out…lol!)


But sometimes you might be working yourself into trouble – and keeping on doing what you’re doing can actually make things worse.



About Anchor Text and BackLinks


First, let’s review just a bit before I dig into all this.


When you’re building a web page and you want it to rank well in Google for a phrase like green poodle shoes, then you would build links BACK to your webpage with the phrase green poodle shoes as the anchor text of that link (ie, the clickable words).

So, if I wanted my blog here to rank for green poodle shoes, I would build links TO my blog with that phrase as the clickable words.


For example: To learn more about green poodle shoes, visit PotPieGirl.com.


Got it? (and just for fun, keep an eye on Google and see if I don’t start ranking for green poodle shoes…lol!)


The theory is, the more keyword optimized links like that you have back to your web page, the better your web page will rank in Google. For the most part, that is pretty much how Google works – to an extent.


You can OVER-DO it and start suffering drops in your rankings from having too MANY of those exact keyword links to your web page and NOT having a well-rounded link profile that has all kinds of links (not only that exact phrase for every link back to your page).


For the sake of this article, I’ll call it a Link Profile Penalty.



Are You Suffering From a Link Profile Penalty?


Ok, so now we get what happens, how do we know if it is, or is not, happening to our web page?


Hang in there with me and let’s see if I can’t explain this…


If you go to Google and do a search called allinanchor (the words all in anchor but typed all-together as one word) and then follow that with a :____insert a keyword phrase____, you are asking Google to tell you how many web pages they know about that are building (or have) backlinks TO their web page with that phrase in it.


Still with me? =)


Here’s an example:


allinanchor:”green poodle shoes”


allinanchor, then a :, then the phrase in quotes – no spaces between anything but each word in the phrase.


When I do that search on Google, I will get results of pages that have that EXACT phrase in the anchor text of links TO their web page.


And surprise, surprise, Google shows no results for that phrase…yet (I imagine they might after they find this post..lol).


Allinanchor is a powerful little tool… you can see how many other web pages are working on ranking for that phrase. If they are building links with that phrase, they must want to rank for it, right? Yup, that’s the theory.


However, you can also get an idea if YOUR web page is having issues with over-optimization of your backlinks.



How To Test for Back Link Over-Optimization


When you do a allinanchor:”your keyword phrase” search on Google, look and see where YOUR page ranks in those results.


If you rank about #3 for allinanchor and then you rank about #3 for a normal, non-quoted search…. things are fine, just be patient.


BUT, if you rank about #3 for allinanchor, but rank #23 for a normal, non-quoted search….there’s most likely a problem. You’re over-doing it and Google is NOT happy with you.



Good News – It’s Usually Easy To Fix!


If your web page is still in the Google index, you’re in good shape. Just STOP doing what you’ve been doing and work on your link PROFILE – not that one specific phrase.


Get some “click here” links or straight url links – basically, work on getting links that are NOT your keyword phrase (or even a long-tail version of your keyword phrase).


In the majority of cases where I’ve had this happen or helped others when it’s happened, things get corrected pretty easily. It’s not a FAST fix, but things do come back together as they should and rankings improve as the link profile improves.


Backlinks are very powerful, but you can over-do it and push yourself DOWN in the rankings. It’s kinda like eating healthy – fruit is GREAT, but if ALL you eat is fruit, there might be a problem (too much of a good thing and not enough well-rounded food choices).


I believe Google wants us to be more well-rounded…and the best way to do well in Google rankings is to give Google what they want.



{ 66 comments }

PotPieGirl January 15, 2011 at 4:56 am

Just to share a “fun useless fact”….

It took Google exactly 7 minutes to find this post and rank me for ‘green poodle shoes’…lol!

Gotta love it!

Craig Sowerby January 15, 2011 at 5:16 am

Hi Pot Pie Girl,

Having too many backlinks can harm your site? If that is true then your competition would bombard your site with backlinks to get you down in the ranks.

And their competing site up in the rankings.

Stacy @ Local Online Marketing January 15, 2011 at 5:17 am

I had to check and I’m seeing you rank at #5 for the phrase! lol

I’m starting up a whole new campaign and I’m working diligently to make sure I use all sorts of anchor text – and even work in different pages as well as different phrases. Takes a bit of planning when the site and blog are new – but I think it will pay off in the end.

wayne January 15, 2011 at 5:19 am

I have realized that this was the year that I was going to start unsubscribing from all of the IM mailing lists to start focusing more and reading all the hype less. I was only going to keep a few that I felt were informative. I was on the fence with your mailing list. However I have a site that is spot on how you described if this method works I guess I will keep reading your blog.

PotPieGirl January 15, 2011 at 5:23 am

Hiya Craig =)

In theory, yes, I suppose that could happen – BUT you would need to be the only one building links. If they are truly your “competition” that would mean they are actively doing something to compete with you – ie, building links.

Problem is, as it relates to this post, is that for many of us, our sites are new and we ARE the only ones building links – and the tendency to over-optimize our anchor links is very common.

When you are an older and more established site, odds are good that others are building links to your sites/pages too with bookmarks, forum posts, on facebook or Twitter, etc so our link profile is diverse.

Personally, I’d just about love my competition to take all the time to build tons of optimized back links to my site in attempt to push me down…lol!

Jennifer

PotPieGirl January 15, 2011 at 5:25 am

@ Stacy – yep! I am now on page one for green poodle shoes…how funny! haha!

@ Wayne – I hear ya and totally understand. I hope you’ll stick around!

Honest Jay January 15, 2011 at 5:52 am

Good post. Google loves you if it looks like you’re getting links the natural way.

If it doesn’t look natural then it looks manipulative and this is where you start making them mad.

A friend asked me about this last week and I told him it doesn’t matter how many links he built as long as they looked like he’s getting them naturally.

Kathlene@Radio Dynamo January 15, 2011 at 5:54 am

Now I know why all of my sites get banned. Just kidding. This is great news for this marketer. Thanks for the explanation. It is a big help to get my sites moved up in ratings.

Thanks for the really great information.

Dita January 15, 2011 at 6:12 am

Well congrats on being #1 green poodle shoes. That is funny. I love reading your posts. Thank for the tip about allinanchor:

Raymond January 15, 2011 at 6:29 am

I learned something new today Jennifer! I believe I have a site that’s going through this small issue. The funny thing is I just ordered some high PR forum profile links using the same keywords. hahaha. I wish I’ve read this post before ordering. Anyway, thank you so much for your wisdom. I’ll see you around Wealthy Affiliate.

Stephanie January 15, 2011 at 6:57 am

Interesting idea. You do see a lot of “web gurus” talking about using the link text to build backlinks, but seldom does anyone mention there can be a penalty, aside from “too many too fast looks suspicious.”

It’s good to hear that using the domain, or a “click here” or some other phrase, including green poodle shoes, is not the wrong way to go about things. So many web gurus want you to think that unless it’s an exact phrase match, you’re doing it wrong.

There’s something funny about you being on the first page of results of green poodle shoes. I didn’t even drop it in quotes and you’re showing up.

SuperbadIM January 15, 2011 at 7:25 am

I had a great discussion with a top SEO guy at Pubcon about this very same topic. If you’re top-heavy with anchor text link, you can expect Google to notice.

In time, I think that will become even more of a factor.

PotPieGirl January 15, 2011 at 7:30 am

“Top Heavy” – great way to put it…thanks! That’s exactly what I mean =)

And yes, I think over time, it will figure in more and more….

bigBaby January 15, 2011 at 7:44 am

My only revenue producing site went from #5 in the SERPs to “fallen off the face of the earth” after I started repurposing my articles to other directories and web 2.0 properties.

It sat that way for about 2-3 weeks before recently coming back. It now occupies the 11th spot.

I just tried the allinanchor: and I sit at “#3″ and #6 respectively.

Thanks for this info. I will make make sure to vary my anchor text from now on.

Francois du Toit January 15, 2011 at 8:13 am

Backlinks should look normal. For example, getting thousands of forum profile links in one day and no links for the rest of the month is not normal. Having only forum profile links and no other links is not normal. Having only DoFollow links is not normal. Having more .edu links than .com .net and .org combined is not normal, etc. You get the point.

So what happens when your backlinks are not normal? When you start building the links you will often rise in the SERPs. But, it will only be temporary! Your site will slip back soon enough.

The problem is not that you have too many backlinks. The problem is that Google knows when your links are not natural.

All the best,
Francois du Toit

Stephen Byrne January 15, 2011 at 10:57 am

Great post Jennifer and also very informative comments too, especially Francois du Toit above.

Should this mean then that buying products or paying for link building tools will hurt your site rather than help it.

If I keep writing articles to my site will that hurt it too with the back links?

Prav January 15, 2011 at 11:01 am

Good post, Pot pie. This is very useful to know as most of us like to concentrate on just one keyword while building our links. But if we focus on building some links with other keywords also this will most probably help us a lot.

Thanks again for your efforts…

Mark Freeman January 15, 2011 at 11:24 am

I have found that ink variety really does help your site a lot more than overoptimisation of a single keyword.

Also another little experiment i did showed that addnig some outbound links to authority sites in your site helps you climb the ranks as well.

Gogole must see sites that do not link out as a little bit suspicious which is interesting. Be generous with links, spread your linkign strategies wide and be patient and it does work.

Great post Jennifer!

Todd Pruitt January 15, 2011 at 12:35 pm

This is one of those articles that I needed to read. Thanks for putting it out there.

Rick Byrd January 15, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Hey Jennifer:

Wow! I never would have thought about the possibilty of a Google penalizing for too many backlinks of the same anchor text. But I guess Google looks at it as spam.

I have read that we should not build backlinks too fast so Google doesn’t think of your the site as spam.

So maybe slow and steady does win the race.

Take care!

- Rick

Michael January 15, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Hi Jennifer:

Thanks for posting this, I have been trying to find the answer to this question. Thanks for all of your information you give out, it helps a lot.

Thanks,
Michael

Jhoe@MidlandsBusinessSC January 15, 2011 at 2:56 pm

For those us us doing local internet marketing, how does this effect us? I’m told that we don’t need many backlinks to get ranked locally, so if we only need about 5 backlinks to get ranked on the first page for a local search, how many of those 5 should have our exact url name as the phrase in the anchor text? Or, since so few of these backlinks are required for 1st page ranking, does it really matter?

Bobby@ Sell Your Website January 15, 2011 at 3:13 pm

This is some great information, I have thought about too many backlinks for 1 anchor text, now I know to vary the anchor text, thanks.

chuck January 15, 2011 at 5:11 pm

my site is # 3 in allinanchor, but # 44 in scroogle. I used the p3 gold method for the website..wrote/linked 1 ezine article to my site..and shared it on Posterous.com-like Pot Pie said. You mentioned “click here” and straight url inks..to increase the ranking…I’m not sure I follow you?..please explain
thanks

Tonya January 15, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Excellent post! I have a couple of campaigns where this exact phenomena of getting lower in the search engines occurred and suspected that too many backlinks had my choice phrase in it.

Google can be a finicky and funny thing sometimes! =)

Ingrid January 15, 2011 at 7:39 pm

I have learnt the hard way about building backlinks too quickly. Itis important to build links timely ifyou want to see good result and use varying anchor text links too.

David Kamau January 15, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Two words, tres bien. May be in the near future you will write a post about how to get a “healthy mix” of backlinks. That would be great.

kerri January 15, 2011 at 7:55 pm

To check if potpiegirl has the ranking, don’t do:

allinanchor:”green poodle shoes”

you need to do it without the ::::

like

allinanchor ”green poodle shoes”

Put a space there instead.

Sandy January 15, 2011 at 8:00 pm

This post is great information that every IMer needs to know!

If backlinks are built slowly, and by slowly I mean 1 or 2 per week, would this be a “normal” rate at which to build them?

Would building a backlink every other day to your site be TOO much, TOO fast?

Thanks for this informative post!!

Jean DAndrea January 16, 2011 at 2:16 am

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for this post – I’ve wondered about this topic.

Did the all in anchor search and came up No 3 for the keyword phase, then did a normal search, and came up No 1 !

Guess I don’t have a problem for that particular section of my site. :-)

Cheers
Jean

zammax@baby furniture January 16, 2011 at 2:35 am

Link Building is not overnight job. How long to get high SERPs depends also how many competitors for that keywords.

Pavol January 16, 2011 at 5:31 am

How would this work for syndication though? What if I get hundreds, or even thousands of people re-posting, re-tweeting, re-publishing my article with my original links (as it is required by TOS)?

If we only knew how Google works…;-) Even using allinanchor may not be too accurate, especially for some more competitive and shorter phrases. The number of results always seems to fluctuate…

Some people believe that Google is moving towards more semantic-related searches/results. I am one of those people. Simply put, Google will try to guess what your website/blog/article is all about from the overall concept of your site, rather than from the use of keywords (as that is much easier to fake).

Obviously, (if that’s true), Google has a long way to go, otherwise you would not rank for “green poodle shoes” simply because you mentioned it twice in your article ;-)

Daisy January 16, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I’ve had a page drop from #8 to #14 and I have been wondering why – just checked allinanchor and it’s at #8 – so it may have been additional links I built for that keyword that did it.

Many thanks for this tip – have been tearing my hair out for a few weeks over this!

Pavol January 16, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Just a note to all those who are jumping to conclusion – the fact that you dropped in SERPs may have nothing to do with anything you did, but everything to do with what your competition did. In other words, maybe you did everything right, but your competition did it even better and more of it.

Greg January 17, 2011 at 3:28 am

Thanks jenn That is an excellent post. I have wondered about too many backlinks. Now I know how to fix them if it happens. i will be checking on my links.
You are a doll. We love you for all you do to help us.

SS Studs January 17, 2011 at 10:10 am

Always try to get links from good website,that is called good links ,are able to high rank.

ROWP January 18, 2011 at 12:14 am

Thank you for posting such valuable information! I don’t have this problem but if I had kept going the way I was I would defiantly have experienced it!

Find Name By Phone January 18, 2011 at 9:55 am

That is an excellent piece of advice.But sometimes Google immediately De indexes the page with LPP.

Unlimited Reverse Phone Lookup January 18, 2011 at 11:52 am

I agree with you.Getting too many links can cause penalty as well.Besides those were nice tips.

Angie January 19, 2011 at 10:21 am

Great article, makes me wonder though if some competitors might use this against each other!

If over-optimisation through backlinks is true then competitors could build backlinks to anothers site all with the same anchor text in order to make them drop in the ranks!

Salt Lake City Insurance January 20, 2011 at 3:06 am

It’s a game of cat and mouse. I have an over-optimized site when it come to link profile. Google has never caught up to it.

However, there’s this new site… and I was beginning to “over” optimize it with anchor text… immediately, Google penalized it.

vizo January 21, 2011 at 5:02 pm

great article, thanks for your help

Derrick January 24, 2011 at 2:03 am

Hey. I’ve seen this happen with some of my sites. New sites and sites with no backlinks can suffer from this pretty easily. I was wondering, though, have you ever seen this happen for particular pages of a site while the rest of the site retains its good ranking? Thanks.

Perth Immigration Agent January 24, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Interesting, Does that mean if I was to post alot of links for a website I dont own, google will punish them? Talk about search engine optimization ethics!!!!

Dorothy January 25, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Good reading PotPieGirl. Came across your post while looking for “dofollow” blogs..There has to be some irony in that! Thanks..I’ll be bookmarking this blog..Good info..simple to understand…

ctouchton January 26, 2011 at 2:34 am

I think this is happened to a site of mine. It’s ranked 2 out of only 3 results when I check the allinanchor and it’s middle of page two with a normal search. I haven’t done that much with backlinks, could there be a different cause? hmm…..

customized web solutions January 26, 2011 at 3:22 am

I agree with you.Link builder is really difficult tasks.You need to have patience.I remember when i was on my first month of my trainee as an Internet Marketer my mentor always told us patience,patience.You are right you must choose good keyword to your site so that the people can easily see you.

George January 26, 2011 at 4:04 am

As always this was a really great resource for new information. I never knew about the allinanchor command before this article, and I’ve used it already. I don’t think I’m hurting myself, nor do I think I’m helping much either:)

hardcore direct response January 27, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Thanks for the useful information; I’m now expanding my link portfolio, hopefully this helps!

Janes@japanese scissors January 27, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Overdoing backlinking can really hurt. I had very bad experience with one domain I bought. It seem previous owner had generated tons of backlink in short time (probably bought). It seemed fine for rankings at the time of purchase, but *bam* suddenly after few week it hit penalty and sandbox for some keywords.

Lucikily I sent reconsideration with proofs I wasn’t responsible for that linkings and it slowly climbed back in serp (took several weeks).

Free Forex Indicators January 28, 2011 at 8:02 pm

I think so it’s very useful and knowledge able content of link building. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired me to comment you as i have Free Forex Indicators business.

Paw Hellegaard January 29, 2011 at 9:56 pm

If you build links to your site, you have to stay away from auto submitting software and so. Do it slowly in a normal tempo, do not try to get fast backlinks – you will not get anything out of it.

Ron | Freelance Copy-e-Writing Services January 30, 2011 at 6:26 pm

I had to say that your site also has HUGE authority in Google’s eyes. So it is supposed to get indexed and ranked so fast. Just like it is in the Hubpages and Squidoo.

Dave "Blog Tools" Lee January 31, 2011 at 6:17 am

Google is very unique and bizarre in a way. Reading your post reminded me of this. Anchor texts are important but too many can be spammy according to the “eyes of Google”.. I wish i could figure out their algorithm .. now that would be better than winning the lottery ! lol.
Great read as usual PotPieGirl ! Your site is a wonderful resource for both newbies and seasoned bloggers.
Thank you for your genuine effort and humble way you go about informing everyone.. ! :)

Rick@GarageDoorsColumbia February 3, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Thanks for this tip…I found I had a problem with the first blog I ever made. It use to rank about #8 and a few weeks ago it disappeared. I did your allinanchor test and found I ranked #4, but when I did a normal, non-quoted search, my website ranked #42.

I guess I’ll have to make some additional links using “click here” or something else to correct this prblem.

Thanks!

ademkurt February 4, 2011 at 10:10 pm
Cathy February 4, 2011 at 11:22 pm

This is a great post! Needless to say, there have been a lot of theories out there lately, but will be putting all to a test! =)

Galerie d'art contemporain February 6, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Thanks for this tip. Your post is very informative!

ektel February 7, 2011 at 11:08 am

Thanks for the sharing your experience. I guess I was lucky to read your post today, as I had not read new SEO articles for months and instead was building backlinks like a crazy.

Orlando Audio Visual February 9, 2011 at 3:53 pm

It’s all about relevant text, links and keywords.
Thanks for the great article!

Onefineham Web Publicity February 9, 2011 at 6:54 pm

I’m a couple of years in and still learning about all this. The latest thing from the WA Clubs is all about commenting on “do-follow” blogs but man are they ever hard to find.

Do you think going the “do-follow” route has harmed your internet marketing business in any way?

Home Brewing February 9, 2011 at 8:11 pm

I hate building backlinks. It’s the worst job in my eyes trying to promote a site and work on SEO.

How 2 make candles February 11, 2011 at 5:02 pm

I am a regular viewer of pot pie girl.com. Whenever I am looking for marketing answers, you seem to have a relevent post to assist. Just wanted to say thanks for helping all of us out. My question is how can you have a site on the first page of yahoo, but are no-where to be found on google? It boggles my mind.

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ATMs February 12, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Looks up greats! I enjoy because it is a nice and very effective article. Thank you, writer for writing like a nice article. This is very nice post! I will bookmark this blog.

Woking February 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm

You do need to be carefull when building backlinks – try to vary your phrases.

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