Up until recently it was considered a search engine optimisation (SEO) best practice to optimise the anchor text (the specific text used to create a link) in use on your web pages and blog posts by including keywords you wish to rank for.

For example, as a business that sells user experience design services we would have been encouraged to do the following:

Visit Border Crossing Media’s website to learn more about our user experience design services.

Updated Guidelines

However given Google’s warnings concerning this tactic, attempting to optimise a link by including keywords in the anchor text is now likely to lead to Google perceiving your website negatively.

So what should I be doing instead?

Use safe anchors, not keyword optimised anchors. Here are a couple of examples of safe anchors:

Exposed URLs: www.bordercrossingux.com
Branded URLs:  For more advice on user experience design, check out Border Crossing Media.
Long phrases like this one:  I’m a major fan of usability testing, but I recommend you invest in screening participants.

So how do I improve my rankings?

Put simply, Google’s purpose is to deliver the most useful and relevant content possible to a user. If you’re the author of content that helps Google fulfil its remit – they you’ll see your rankings improve. It really is as simple as that.

Trying to game the system may lead to short-term wins. However, it can just as quickly lead to penalties too. In the end of the day there’s no SEO tactic that can beat the long-term return on investment of providing unique and valuable content that meets your target audiences needs.

François Roshdy

François is director of user experience at Border Crossing UX. He specialises in helping clients continuously improve the experiences they deliver.