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Is This Mistake On Your Website?

Aug 23, 2007
If you're like a lot of people, your website (yes, even your expensive custom website!) may be losing valuable online traffic even as you're reading this.

The good news is that if it's due to the following common mistake, it's a relatively easy fix.

Here's the scoop:

Search engines such as Google and Yahoo scan through your website periodically to look for updated content. Part of what they're doing is trying to identify relevant patterns of quality information between links, so that they can provide their users with the best results for specific search terms.

In order to do this, search engines give higher priority to certain types of content. One type of content that they rank as highly important is your "anchor text".

Anchor text is the actual text that is hyperlinked when you link from a page on your site to another web page.

For example, if you are a real estate agent and from your website you link to a page on a national school information website that shows school districts for your state , you have these choices:

Correct Use of Anchor Text:

You could say, "Get information on California school districts" and make "California school districts" the anchor text link.

Poor Use of Anchor Text:

Or, you could make the mistake many web sites do, and say: "Get information on California school districts - click here" - and make the words "click here" the anchor text link.

(By the way, any type of wording can be anchor text, and you can link to other pages on your own site as well as to pages on other websites.)

Here's why the second example is a poor use of anchor text:

Search engines look at your anchor text, then at the content of the page that the anchor text links to, in order to see how closely they correspond to each other. When your anchor text appears closely related to the content of the page it links to, you gain points with the search engines.

But when it doesn't:

The words "click here" mean absolutely nothing to a search engine. There's no connection between the anchor text and the linked-to site, so you don't get points for having a relevant link.

In more direct terms, if you wanted your site to come up when people searched for the term "California school districts" in Google, that would never happen. (Because the term you've given Google to associate with your link is "click here", not "California school districts".)

You can (and should) use relevant anchor text links to increase your search engine ranking for all of the terms that your prospective clients look for online.

For example, for a real estate agent this would include community information and local real estate for sale. Your own name and your business name are two other prime examples.

So scan through your website now. Is there any hyperlinked text that doesn't clearly relate to the page it links to? Change it to relevant anchor text, and you're on your way to building a stronger online presence with smart search engine optimization!
About the Author
Want examples of classic website bloopers? See our Website Design Mistakes series. Irene Dorang and The Agent Guide co-owner Michelle Blue provide affordable custom real estate web design services and done-for-you real estate newsletters.
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