22 Jul 2011, Posted by admin in Featured,Google, 38 Comments
The majority of SEOs (and possibly most site owners) know that the search engines heavily value links with optimised anchor text. A link with the text “cheap car insurance” will help you rank for “cheap car insurance”. That sounds obvious, although it’s also kind of sad, because that’s not really how normal people link.
What’s less clear is just how much Google weights the anchor text in it’s algorithm compared to other search engines. Ordinarily it would be difficult to test this – you’d need to find a huge range of varied sites, all linked to with a common phrase. Luckily, Hacker News is a good example – if you use the phrase “Show HN” (as people often link to their new startup/project using that phrase).
Here’s what Duck Duck Go displays for the query “Show HN”:
While it (brilliantly) has a !bang syntax for searching HNSearch.com, it’s regular results show pretty much what you’d expect – sites that use “Show HN” in the title tag of the page and within the text of the page, along with something like hn-show.com which features the keywords within it’s domain name.
And here’s what Blekko shows:
Blekko is relatively similar, in that it promotes sites that use the word “Show” in the title tag and on the page a lot (maybe not as much with “HN” though).
Here’s Bing’s results:
Bing, weirdly, doesn’t have any results from Hacker News in it’s top 10 – the first result is from FriendFeed. After that, it very heavily focuses on the keyword being in the domain name or in the title tag & on-page text.
And finally, here’s Google’s results:
Other than the first result from HackerNews, not a single listing features the text “Show HN” in either the title, domain or on-page text. They’re ranking for the phrase, despite not mentioning it anywhere on the page, because some of the links pointing to them include the phrase “Show HN”.
Keep in mind, this may be an edge case – typical on-page weightings might be dialled up for search terms that are more heavily searched for.
I’m not saying that this is necessarily a flaw in Google’s results at all – I much prefer Google’s results in this edge case than to the other search engines. I just wanted to highlight how Google appears to weight anchor text very heavily – much more so than the others.