SEO Link Variation Test Part 2 – The Results
Hello and welcome to this week’s Creare SEO Video blog, with me Joel Tarplin and my willing accomplice and fellow SEO consultant, Kieran Headley.
So you may remember that a few weeks ago on the 21st of October, we produced a video explaining a test we had implemented exploring the importance of anchor text variation when link building.
It may be worth watching this video again so we’ve put a link in the blog post below – but the main outline of the experiment was simple.
Inspired by a similar experiment run by SEOmoz, we selected three sites as follows:
Site A – A bespoke, externally built website with a semi keyword rich domain.
Site B – A Creare built Magento ecommerce site on a keyword rich domain.
Site C – An externally built CMS website on a non keyword rich domain.
In site A’s campaign, the consultant changed a selection their existing links so that the anchor text exactly matched the keyword.
In site B’s campaign, the consultant changed anchor text so that there was mild or moderate variation from the exact keyphrase.
And finally, in site C’s campaign, the consultant changed their anchor text so that there was extreme variation – even so far as using only one word from the main keyphrase.
So enough recapping, we’re now able to reveal exactly what happened to each site in the search engines. We can reveal that site A which used exact keywords for link text moved from page 4 position 6 to page 3 position 6. That’s a massive jump of 10 positions and what’s more – it achieved this improvement very quickly.
So what about site B? Well, similar results here. Site B had mild variation for link text and moved from page 2 position 6 to page 1 position 8. While not quite such a big jump, it can be harder to move onto page one of Google , so this is another good improvement. One thing to note is that it did take longer for site B to move up in the results pages.
Finally, poor old site C was subjected to extreme variation in terms of backlink anchor text. Like Site A, Site C moved forward in search almost instantaneously, but only from page 2 position 3 to page 2 position 2.
So with the results in and collated – what have we learnt? Well, the first thing to note is that these results seem to verify those provided by the SEOmoz experiment, suggesting that both sets of results are accurate to a degree.
Secondly, it’s clear that as link building techniques, exact keyword matches and moderate link variation as used on sites A and B respectively both provide good results in search. The difference is the timings.
It seems that exact anchor text matches work more quickly for your phrases, so might be of more use if you’re looking for quick results for your clients.
In contrast, link text variation takes a little longer but might boost more of your longtail and associated key phrases than exact match anchor text would. This means that it might prove to be a more useful technique in the long term.
Of course, the experiment also demonstrates the dangers of extreme variation. Link build too obscurely for your keywords and Google seems to have difficulty associating the links with your campaign phrases, and your progress to page 1 might be much slower.
Finally, it’s clear that the experiment throws up more questions which could be worthy of exploration.
For example, which technique is best in the long term? Does exact keyword match link building work well in the short term, but drop off in significance as the campaign goes on?
We’ll be looking at these questions and more in future trials, but in the meantime if you have any ideas of experiments you think we could all learn from, please leave them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you.
So I guess that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, thanks for watching!
And you stay white hat, SEO world!