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About web tools, anchor text, competitors’ Black Hat tactics, and how to make sure your site isn’t blacklisted, all written so it will make sense to business owners…Okay fine, we’ll throw in some lesbians and kittens.

Google Webmaster Tools

To someone not that familiar with SEO, at first at least, something similar to this may even sound like an okay idea. It’s not. First though, let’s describe what you are seeing in that picture above:

  1. This is a view from Google Webmaster Tools. It’s a free tool that helps webmasters (and website owners) understand how Google sees their website. With it you can check for problems, see if your site is being penalized, you can see what search terms are bringing people to your website, and a lot more. It’s useful and if you are interested you can get started here: Welcome to Google Webmaster Tools… but do that later, keep reading.
  2. Anchor Text is just a phrase or word that links to your site from somewhere else. In this case what we see is that those ten terms all exist somewhere online, and when a user clicks on those terms, they are directed to that chiropractor’s website.
  3. Anyone can create anchor text to your website. See “Welcome to Google Webmaster Tools” above? That is anchor text. I don’t need Google’s permission or anyone’s to make anchor text. That’s an important bit of info for later. Let’s practice. I like these kittens so let’s make anchor text: OMG! Cutest kittens on the internets! Check it! Okay, that is now anchor text. I highlighted the word, right click, select hyperlink, then paste the site I want. Someone somewhere can see that their cute kitten video now has this anchor text leading to their website. In both of those cases this is legitimate use of anchor text; that really is the Google Webmaster Tools, those are factually (not opinion) extraordinarily cute kittens. The relevance of cute kittens in this article may come into question at some point, but ultimately cute kittens are always relevant right? (Don’t quote us on that).

Alright, let’s move on. So the first reaction to the Anchor Text, “Nude Lesbian Chiropractors” may have been…

“Cool! Way more people are looking for nude lesbian porn than chiropractors! Business should be booming! “

But after the knee-jerk reaction we all realize false advertising isn’t smart. From the human angle, mostly this would just annoy people. At worst maybe they would then think of your site as sort of a scammer and have an overall negative opinion of your site, but that exposure would be pretty limited.

The bigger problem is how search engines see this kind of thing. Google has less patience for it than most humans. Eventually Google will penalize this website and it may even blacklist it to oblivion which is a dark nightmarish hole no business wants to fall into (it basically makes your site invisible to all for a long time as punishment and until everything is fixed). They take it seriously because if they don’t a lot more people would do it, and the internet would become basically useless for finding relevant information.

“But WAIT! You said anyone can make anchor text! How? What? Danger Will Robinson! Danger!”

That is the heart of this particular problem. Someone, most likely a competitor, made a bunch of spammy irrelevant anchor text links with the hopes of pushing that site lower in terms of relevant search results, making it more difficult for people to find that site. It is an old Black Hat SEO tactic.

Solution

So what if someone is doing this to your business? You might be surprised how often it happens. Fortunately there are some things you can do.

  1. Google knows this happens and takes steps to minimize the damage. Over time chances are they are going to figure it out and get your site back where it goes.
  2. But that can take time. Meanwhile, remember the Google Webmaster Tools from above? It’s a good idea to become familiar with it and occasionally see what’s going on with your site. If you see a bad link on a site, tell that webmaster and hopefully they are attentive to that sort of thing.
  3. You can fight back irrelevant and spammy links with quality links, using White Hat SEO tactics. We are certainly going to be talking a lot about White Hat SEO tactics in future entries so stay tuned.
  4. The professionals can do a better job fighting back bad links while at the same time improving your placement on search engines like Google. This can be a smart investment for any company. Look for someone with an A-Rating from the Better Business Bureau (this is the highest possible rating from the BBB for an online advertising firm) and be sure they practice White Hat SEO tactics so that your site won’t be penalized later on, look for a Certified Google Partner, meaning they follow all of Google’s Best Practices when it comes to optimizing their clients’ sites.

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