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.