Google Search Console Enables Regex Filtering in Performance Reports

This morning, Google announced brand new functionality to allow for Regex filtering in Google Search Console performance reports. This announcement was quickly spotted and reported on by Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land. So what does this mean for those of us using Search Console on a regular basis?

What’s New?

With this rollout, analyzers can implement regex to more efficiently filter data in Search Console. The example Google provides is to easily include an “and” modifier to query and page searches. A salient example for Mockingbird is our brand name. Way back in the day, “Mockingbird Marketing” was known as “Atticus Marketing”. We’ve long since transitioned to the name Mockingbird, but I was curious if we’re showing up organically for any “Atticus” queries. Thanks to the new regex rollout, this is as simple as navigating to “Performance”, adding a new filter, selecting “queries”, and inputing the following: “Atticus|Mockingbird”. This allows us to look up query information for both terms on either side of the bar at the same time:

Google Regex for Search Console Rollout


Search Console Reports

Using the search above, we’re retuned the following report:

Google Search Console Report Data

As you’ll notice, we’re returned queries capturing both brand names. You can then add/subtract menu items to get immediate data on a slew of metrics beyond what is listed in the screenshot above.

Get Creative

The only limit to regex is your creativity/understanding. There are plenty of resources online (here’s the one directly from Google) available to gain a better understanding of how to use regex and what it can be used for, but it’s virtually limitless.

Advanced link building: “we are killing black men….”

This is a short clip from a tragically prescient link building presentation I gave at PILMMA way back in 2016.  It touches in a a very very difficult subject, challenges the legal community to get more involved locally and showcases the SEO benefits of doing so.  Yeah – it may seem tone-deaf callous and opportunistic, but really its a call for the legal community to get more involved in their communities at a very intimate level.


Evaluating the Value of a Backlink

It has been well established that a strong backlink profile is a key ingredient in the SEO mix. Upperranks has gone so far as to dub backlinks “the most important Google ranking factor.”

But not all backlinks are created equally. So what are the factors that influence the value of a backlink?

Domain Strength

Perhaps the most obvious method for assigning value to a backlink, domain rating is a numeric value given to a website’s domain based on the breadth of its backlink profile.

Mockingbird’s tool of choice for determining the strength of a domain is Ahrefs Site Explorer, which uses the term “domain rating” for its rating system. Other tools like, Moz and Majestic have their own terminology, such as “domain authority” and “trust flow.”

Minor differences aside, each of these tools essentially assigns a value to a domain based on the number and quality of backlinks pointing to it. When a high authority domain links to your website it passes value to your domain, thus improving your domain authority. This is often referred to as “link juice.”

As an example, Forbes has a domain rating of 93. Based on this metric alone, a backlink from Forbes would be considered quite valuable.

Domain Relevance

Domain authority is a signifier of backlink value, but determining true value is not so simple. In fact, a backlink from a domain with a rating of 30 could improve your ranking more than a backlink from a domain with a rating of 93.

The relevance of a domain’s subject matter plays a major role in how a backlink will affect SEO.

Location & Topic

Links from local sources are particularly valuable for SEO as they increase search engine confidence in the location of your firm and signify local authority. Domain subject matter relevance also improves the value of a backlink. For example, if your firm practices personal injury law, a link from the Brain Injury Association of America would be desirable, as it would be another signifier that your firm is an authority in its area of practice.

Anchor Text Relevancy

A link can be attached to words, which we call anchor text, or it can be listed as a plain URL. It is preferable for a backlink to be attached to relevant anchor text. So, which of these backlinks would be most valuable to Mockingbird?

  1. Learn more about our favorite digital marketing agency in Seattle here:
  2. Learn more about our favorite digital marketing agency in Seattle here.
  3. Learn more about our favorite digital marketing agency in Seattle.

That’s right, the answer is number three! (We’re so confident in you). The first link is less valuable because it’s listed as a plain URL. The second link is also not ideal, even though it is using anchor text because the text “here” is not relevant to our business or informative for search engines.

Number three is dream anchor text. It includes what we do and where we are. This backlink would likely help Mockingbird rank better for this exact phrase.

Number of Links Per Domain

The first link you receive from a domain will have more value than the second link from that same domain. So in terms of SEO, it is better to pursue backlinks from websites that have never linked to you, rather than chasing multiple links on the same domain. This is not to say a second or third link will not be valuable, but the returns are diminishing.

Backlink Age

A backlink from five years ago is less value than a link you received yesterday. This is part of why backlink development must be a consistent endeavor. Your stellar backlink profile will become stale if you do not continually to add to it.


If there are hundreds of backlinks on a page, the links will not receive as much value as it would if there were only a few carefully selected links on the page. Likewise, a domain which gives out links like candy is will not provide as valuable of a backlink as a domain which rarely links out.

On Page Location

Backlinks from the body of the text are more valuable from those placed in the sidebar or footer of a page. Moz explained the reasoning for this, saying:

“The best possible place for me to get a link is in the content, because that’s where the article or the editorial authority is coming from. Links from sidebars or footers are associated with advertising, promotions, or sponsorships, which don’t pass much authority.”


How to Identify and Fix 404s

Chances are, you’ve come across a broken page. Some companies play it off with a page of puppies, while others state the combination of numbers “404”.

A 404 is essentially an error message, indicating that the server cannot find the page being requested. In other words, what you are looking for simply isn’t there. Ideally, your site does not have any 404s, but if it does, don’t worry! We’ll go over how to find 404s and more importantly, how to fix them.

Finding 404s

Embarrassing stumbling upon them

The most unfortunate way to find a 404 is having a customer point it out to you, as experienced by Mockingbird’s president and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Not only is this unprofessional, but it dampens what would have otherwise been a positive experience by the customer. Conrad then goes into depth on how to monitor 404s through Google Search Console so be sure to check out that method as well.

Evaluating Ahrefs Backlinks

One paid tool you can use is Ahrefs, an SEO toolkit that helps monitor various aspects of your site. Learn how to get the most out of Ahrefs and the benefits it can can provide for your website. For our purpose, we’re going to focus on backlinks. Once you log into Ahrefs, you’ll want to click on “Broken” under “Backlinks,” which will bring up (you guessed it) your broken backlinks. Hopefully, you won’t have too many, but we will go into how to handle these 404s below.

broken backlinks ahrefs

Running a Screaming Frog Crawl

Another paid tool available is Screaming Frog, an SEO analyzer that scans your site. The nice thing about this tool is that it visually analyzes your site, showing you what percentage of links on your site are 404s. After running the crawl, you’ll want to head to the “Response Codes” tab and highlight all the addresses shown. Then, click “Outlinks” on the bottom half of the screen.

You can export this report for a better view, but the most important columns to pay attention to are “From”, “To” and “Anchor Text”. The “From” column identifies which page the 404 is living on, while the “Anchor Text” is the word or phrase that is linking to the 404.

seo analyzer

Handling 404s

So now you know what 404s are and the different ways of finding them, the next step is decide what to do with them. I will refer to external sources as websites that is not your own and internal sources as your own website. In addition, you’ll also want to know how to redirect pages.

There are three situations in which a 404 can occur: An external source pointing towards an internal source, an internal source pointing towards another internal source and an internal source pointing towards an external source.

Externally pointing internally

When an external source point to a page on your site, it is known as a backlink. Backlinks influence the overall authority of your site and where your site ranks in Google searches. Therefore, you want to make sure that no broken backlinks exist through a tool like Ahrefs. The best course of action is to redirect the internal broken link to a functioning page with similar content. That way, we keep the authority from the backlink, but lose the 404.

Internally pointing internally

Sometimes a site can have pages pointing towards an internal 404. In this case, we’d use a tool like Screaming Frog to identify the anchor text and broken link. Simply unlink the anchor text and optionally replace the 404 with a working page. You’ll still want to place a redirect for the broken link to a page with similar content or even the homepage if none exist.

Internally pointing externally

The last case in which a 404 exists is most likely the easiest to handle. Your site may point to external links such as social profiles or resources. When those links break, however, you cannot fix them. Instead, the only thing you can control is whether or not your site points to them. If no similar substitutes for the external link can be used to replace it, then simply unlink the anchor text within your website.

Managing 404s

With the web continuously changing URLs and sites constantly growing, monitoring 404s can be a handful. However, an experienced marketing agency knows how to report and fix 404s. Contact Mockingbird Marketing to see how we can help you today.

Lawyers, Be Clear About How You Can Help: Landing Page Case Study

Optimizing Landing Pages for Actionable Language

Actionable language begins by asking yourself, “How can I help my user?”.

What are the common threads shared by the majority of your clients, and before scrolling down the page, what is it they need to know first?

In essence, DON’T BURY THE LEAD, tell people what they need to know.

Let’s dive into the results of this case study before I sell you further on actionable language.


Tell People What They Need To Know!

We launched ads for this campaign at the end of July 2020 and didn’t see results until September. Starting first by optimizing the campaign in an attempt to bring in more volume and lower the cost per acquisition (CPA), but it still wasn’t driving conversions once folks clicked and landed on the page.

Why so long before seeing results? Why the sudden change in conversions from 0% to 45% average?

Because we re-wrote the language to tell users upon landing on the page, that my client can help them with their legal matter!

Timeline & Results From The Campaign Level

Here’s a granular look at the data. One caveat, this campaign is incredibly niche and didn’t attract large numbers of visitors, but the change in conversions from 0% to 45% was a sharp contrast once we changed the text/copy on the page.

Line graph showing the life of the campaign
Line graph showing the life of the campaign


Data snap-shot of the campaign's lifespan
Data snap-shot of the campaign’s lifespan


I get it, being this forward, can come off like a hard sell, even tacky, but it’s crucial to tell folks what they need to know without having to scroll or decipher a brick of text.

Let’s get into why this works, and how we can shape ourselves as an authority sharing how they can help users with their legal matters.


Be Clear About How You Can Help

The landing page had useful content, the issue was that the content spoke only about the law, not providing any context to how my clients could help their users with legal matters.

You have to put yourself in the user’s shoes. They’re on the web, most likely on their phone, and depending on your practice area, pressed for time. Now mix this into the browsing habits of average users, which is just that, browsing!

The average user on the web is skimming content for what they need, on the web, folks are typically researching and looking for answers on the go, especially these days with ~50% of web users are on mobile screens, and Google’s mobile-first indexing.

Now let’s add on stress from a potential legal matter that needs resolving.


Writing Tips for Appealing to Your Audience

Knowing that your audience is online, and regardless of their education, are primarily skimming your content. What are they seeking? Key phrases mostly, words that stand out, and address their particular issue.

This is why your most important points should be made in:

  • your headings,
  • followed by the bolded text in your paragraphs,
  • then bullet points
  • even line spacing plays a role.

Make Headings Clear & Concise: Don’t Bury The Lead

The Term “burying the lead” comes from journalism, reading any successful news publication you’ll know what exactly is going on from the article title and supporting headings.

Any and all useful information should be easily gained from your headings, providing any important information under your headings in bold or underline text. All other content is supporting your main point.

This is What Revealing The Lead Looks Like:

This is the landing page hero image and tagline, notice that visitors know exactly what this page is about, and how my clients can help.

hero image with Actionable headings
Landing page hero image & tagline. Note the location is blurred out.


Break up your content into easily digestible chunks

Formatting the text on your page is crucial as well, by breaking up your content into easily digestible chunks you’re not overwhelming your user with a wall of words made from bricks of text.

Notice in the image below that paragraphs are broken up, with each point expressed in 1-3 sentences, and spaced apart. If this were literature, you’d expect this content to be densely packed together on the page.

Remember, for the web, and for your landing pages, we are informing without overbearing, and if a denser read is warranted, then linking to alternative forms of media are useful, like downloadable e-books, pdf documents, or detailed blog content with a glossary of anchor links.

Example of actionable page content.
A snippet of the landing page copy/text

Write in simpler language

Regardless of your user’s education level, writing simpler online is always better. Not only in content pruning, but the vocabulary of the words used.

More sophisticated language takes longer to read, and not good for quickly skimming for what you need, and may come off as pretentious.

Bullet points make content digestible

If you’re writing out a list, or there are multiple points to cover, breaking this content into numbered or bulleted lists can make it more easily digestible by the reader.

Don’t forget to bold any crucial text, and ensure that it appears first, ahead of all other supporting text.

Why are bullet points so useful?
  • Separates out important content, making it easier to read
  • creates a hierarchy
  • Adds space between subject matter


Remember, it’s all about how to provide users with information on how you can help them.

At the end of the day, it’s their legal matter and they need help solving it, and the first attorney whose website can deliver answers to the questions they’re asking, and providing that consistency throughout.

Lastly, don’t forget to ask for the sale by inviting users to reach out by contacting you.


Other Online Resources for You to Explore:

Books To Explore:

Mockingbird Prepares for Google Web Vitals

In a previous post, we covered Google announcing Core Web Vitals as metrics to measure a healthy site. In November, they announced that these metrics will be search engine ranking signals in May 2021 along with existing search signals for page experience which include mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitial guidelines. We have been spending time diving into these web vitals and how we can be prepared and provide an excellent page experience.

To review, these are defined as the Core Web Vitals:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): The time it takes for a page’s main content to load. An ideal LCP measurement is 2.5 seconds or faster.
  • First Input Delay (FID): The time it takes for a page to become interactive. An ideal measurement is less than 100 ms.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): The amount of unexpected layout shift of visual page content. An ideal measurement is less than 0.1.

Let’s dive into how Mockingbird is preparing.

  • Using Sage 10 starter theme that comes prepared to use tools that help purge, minify, and cache the theme assets we make. This is important for site speed and most importantly, first input delay. We combine and concat our JavaScript and CSS files down to bare minimum to make them extra lean.
  • Using CSS to fill in spacing for fixed elements. Often websites have fixed elements (we have fixed headers that react to user scroll) like banners or ads. If you don’t accommodate for that space before the element loads, it will shift the website layout when the rest of the website doesn’t, thus increasing your CLS score which we don’t want.
  • Using WebP images – a more progressive web format that can be compressed smaller than your typical image formats.
  • WordPress now comes with lazy loading which means it doesn’t load page elements into view until the content is within the viewport.
  • Removing useless JavaScript like light-boxes and carousels. JavaScript is a huge offender in page load and the less JavaScript, the better.
  • Using Autoptimize to load combined third party Javascript and CSS files into one bundle. This drastically helps with site speed and decreasing FID.

The Results

Below are screenshots of some recent law firm websites we have created using the above techniques.

Law Firm Website Marketing Website Metrics for personal injury attorney

Rochester Law Firm Website Metrics

Long Island law Firm Website Metrics

Link Building Through Community and Connection

There are so many creative PR and link building tactics to explore that we often neglect the most obvious opportunities.

Many link building plans that we come up rely on digital publishers that we may not have a personal connection to. They require casting a larger net, investing some serious outreach time, and offering something of significant value in return.

Have You Heard of Networking?

One way to ease the link building process and increase the likelihood that your efforts will succeed is to utilize your personal and professional connections.

It’s a pretty universally understood idea. Networking is good. Networking leads to opportunities. But, you would be surprised how many undiscovered connection link placement opportunities most attorneys have out there.

Why Network Link Building

Network link building provides an opportunity to develop a relevant and natural backlink profile. Most of the connections you have are likely from around your area, and if they are not, their sites will normally be relevant to your practice. The value of a link is not simply based on domain rating. The locality and topic of websites can affect the value of a link.

Connection Opportunities

To begin network link building, you must start by making an outreach list and identifying opportunities. If you’re having a hard time getting started, consider the following tactics.

Board Member Link Building

Most associations have pages which list out their board members. If you or an attorney at your firm is a member of a board, go to the association’s website and look for a page listing board members. You can then reach out to the association and ask them to add a link to the attorney’s profile for more information. No board member page? No problem. Reach out and ask if there is somewhere that a profile can be added.


If you have a personal connection at the association, contact them. If not, search for contact information on the site. If there are multiple contacts listed, give preference to web admins and communications officers. The most suitable contact will depend on the specific organization.

Donation & Sponsorship Link Building

Have you made a donation in the past or sponsored an event? If so, reach out to the organization and ask that you be added to their sponsors page; most non profit websites will have one. Similar to Board of Directors link building, don’t be afraid to reach out if there is no page. Ask if they would consider adding one or linking elsewhere. Be sure to be human and express that you are happy to support their organization.

Local Business Link Building

  • Do you have a friend that owns a business?
  • Is there a service provider that you firm refers clients to?
  • Is there a restaurant that your team loves to go to for lunch?

Reach out and offer to write them a review to be published on their website and ask that a link to your firm be added to your name in the review.

Podcast & Webinar Guesting

Do you have any friends or business connections who have done webinars or who have podcasts? Reach out and suggest a topic of discussion and offer to be a guest in their next session. It’s an effort to consistently produce content and find guests for podcasts and webinars, and you may be helping your connection out. Just be sure to ask for a link on the event page or in the episode description.

Follow Up

Many organizations and businesses are overwhelmed right now. Even if they say they will add the link they may get distracted my other work and forget. Make sure to gently follow up with them. Most people will be thankful for the reminder.

Get Creative

These are just a few ideas for how to use your connections to develop links for your website. As you consider your connections think about what you might be able to provide them. The best link building is based on providing value to the website you’re hoping to get a link from. These are tough times for most businesses and organizations. Think about how you can nurture your connections and help them, even in a mall way.

Is Creating Content Fueling Traffic to Your Law Practice?

The Answer Is Yes, Creating Relevant & Fresh Content That Benefits Users Fuels Traffic.

I was on a call with a client who’s somewhat new to Mockingbird, and we were looking at a year-over-year comparison of their organic traffic in Google Analytics.

Looking at the data, it was apparent there was a jump in traffic in 2020. 

I asked, “What are you doing differently compared to last year?”

They responded, “We started blogging regularly.”

Here’s a snapshot of the data we were viewing together:

Year over year comparison of organic traffic, comparing before actively blogging to actively publishing content

Let’s take a closer look at this data as we explore why you should be creating content and tracking the traffic you get to your website. 

We’ll also cover strategies for brainstorming ideas and the internal linking of the content on your website

We’ve heard it before. Create a blog to drive traffic, but why does it work, and how do we do it correctly?

To put it loosely, as an attorney, you’re an authority in your practice area, and when you have something to say important enough to share with others, they listen.

Not only are you sharing, but people are finding it useful—the definition of quality content.

What Criteria Should We Judge a Piece of Content as Quality?

Google’s  E-A-T standards break content into three primary metrics to determine its quality. 

  • Expertise
  • Authority
  • Trustworthiness

Simply put, do users find your content useful?

Try this exercise: Put yourself in the shoes of users on your website. 

They are likely there seeking answers in their attempt to navigate the law, and if you’re willing to share your experience and providing guidance regardless of whether they become a client or not, well, that sets you apart from other attorneys as an authority.

Begs the Question, How Do We Quantify the quality of a piece of content? 

In Google Analytics, we compare specific metrics like:

  • Session duration – How long users were on your page. The default duration for a session is 30 minutes max before resetting.  
  • Bounce rate – the percentage of people who land on the page and leave without any action
  • New vs. returning users – are both excellent, but increased returning users implies retention and new chances for conversion with an already engaged audience.
  • Pages Per Session – How many pages did they view on your website? Having relevant internal links in your content gives users seeking more specific information that opportunity.
  • Increased Conversions – Increased traffic doesn’t matter if your content doesn’t at least assist conversions elsewhere on your website. 

Google analytics metrics of year over year comparison of organic traffic. Giving an idea of user behavior


A Closer Look Into The Data: This view shows overall traffic went up, but the bounce rate increased, and pages viewed, average session duration and conversions are down, telling us that this content may not be resonating with the ideal audience, suggesting a change in strategy. 

The goal is to pay attention to the data, and set benchmarks for yourself, then it’s easier to spot trends and make adjustments if needed.

Google Search Console is another tool you can use to compare impressions vs. clicks on your content. If impressions are high and clicks low, you can safely assume that your content isn’t alluring to users.

Clicks versus impressions search console performance dashboard

A Closer Look Into The Data: This data on the search console performance dashboard shows clicks versus impressions over 90 days. Seeing that in the summer months had more engagement is an opportunity to look back at that content and see where tweaks can be made our strategy.

Spikes in clicks and impressions both, are also noteworthy to look into, sometimes yielding insight, other times not.

Comparing all this data helps puts you in the mindset to do one of three things:

  1. Merge this piece of content with something else on your site
  2. Scrap it entirely
  3. Update this piece of content to be more relevant.

How Do We Get People To Discover The Content You’ve Written?

Good old fashioned keyword research, that’s how.

If you’re unfamiliar, keywords are the terms and phrases people use when researching subjects online. 

You might think, “How am I supposed to know what people are searching for? I can’t read minds.”

Don’t worry; we got you!

Keyword planners are helpful tools that you can use to determine if enough people are searching for terms you’re interested in using. 

Keyword planner tools now come into play. These are my favorites:

Note: Both tools require you to create a free account to access them. 

Google Trends &  support doc is another helpful tool if you’re stuck between a few terms and is curious about which terms are used more frequently.

Now Test Your Keyword List in the search results to Learn The Search Intent.

What you think your keywords will pull up in the results may be different in actuality. 

Sometimes a keyword will pull up multiple topics; then, it’s a matter of figuring out the ratio of intent; are most of the search results related to your topic? 

If so, then you can be comfortable that your content is showing up when it needs to.

Another useful method of helping users find what they want is the Internal Link Sculpting of your content. 

Linking out to relevant content on your site from a central point, like your practice areas, for example. 

Another way to think of this is content hubs

That way, when users land on the page, they have everything they need at their fingertips, quickly navigating out and back to this hub.

Cornerstone content is also a valuable strategy for creating hubs for relevant content.

This content could be a blog post that’s an in-depth resource that has relevance across your practice areas and supporting content.

What About Fresh Content? Do You Need to Post Blogs Weekly or Something?

No need to post weekly. Unless it’s relevant and your users find it valuable, see the feedback loop?

As an attorney, you’re most likely to have your core practice area pages and content cornerstones. 

These don’t need to be updated for the sake of it, only when needed.

What you could do instead is create supporting content that’s timely and relevant to link back to your core content that’s always performed well.

This benefits you in two ways:

  1. Your authority continues to grow as your breadth of knowledge provides rabbit holes for your users to follow.
  2. Search engines in their crawls, like your users, learn more about what you have to offer by crawling your internal linking network.

Tactics You Can Employ to Learn What Users Need from Your Content:

  • During intake calls with new leads, ask them what they were searching for, and if they found it.
  • Ask current and past clients you’re still in contact with.
  • Your current FAQ is often an opportunity to expand on topics relevant to your practice.
  • Take a peek at your competitors’ FAQs, and ask yourself, “What are they not answering, or how can I explain it more thoroughly. 

“Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

-Pablo Picasso

Once You’ve got an idea of what your users need, you’re closer to knowing their intent.

Let’s Take This Opportunity to Recap:

Today we’ve covered strategies for content creation, and why it’s important, but we’ve also gotten an opportunity to share and critique data from a client who’s actively creating content.

I’ve linked to quite a few resources as well through this post, so please explore them and bookmark those you find useful.

So what should your next steps be? May already be creating content or just getting started.

  1. If you aren’t taking a look at your data, you should, the more practice you have in these dashboards the easier it gets.
  2. Start setting benchmarks for yourself, you’ll begin to start noticing trends to help you adjust your strategy
  3. Practice writing content.

Now that you’re more informed on content creation, it’s time to get some practice in, because practice makes progress.

If you’re short on time and have the resources, consider us your outsourced marketing department. 

It’s much easier to edit the content than research, write, edit, and publish it. 

Reach out and complete the form-fill below to speak with our sales team and our President and founder Conrad Saam. 

What Happens When There’s No Anchor Text?

You may be familiar with the idea of anchor text, the words you click to follow a link on a website. You may also be aware that that anchor text has importance from an SEO perspective. So what happens when a website sends a link with no anchor text, just a raw, or, “naked” url with a link (example: Before getting into Google’s answer, let’s give some background.

What is anchor text, and why should I care?

As mentioned above, anchor text is the actual words you click to follow a link on a site. These links can be either internal or external. Internal links refer to other pages on the same site, while external links point out to another site. For both internal and external links, search engines take anchor text as a clue about what the content on a given page is about, above and beyond just that of the content on the page. If Google sees a page with appropriately named anchor text for “personal injury law firm”, “car accident stats”, and “truck wreck lawyer”, that’s even more evidence that the page really is about personal injury law.

Now, you have no control (or at least, very little) over the anchor text that sites linking to your own use for anchor text. With that being said, there are a set of best practices for your own internal anchor text:

  1. Succinct: be as efficient with your words as possible. What is the page you’re sending users to about?
  2. Relevant: does the page you’re sending users to actually apply to what the page is about?
  3. Low keyword density: in the google old days, SEOs could easily spam anchor text with great results. Now, the pendulum has swung the other direction, and search engines are hyper-critical of keyword heavy anchor text. Back to item number 1, be succinct.
  4. Not generic: be helpful guiding users to another page

How are naked URLs treated by Google?

Given that background, what happens if anchor text isn’t there, and a webmaster just puts the actual link in content? In a Google Office Hours SEO Hangout Google’s John Mueller gave the following response:

“… in that situation we treat that URL as anchor text. From what I understand, our systems do try to recognize this and say well, this is just a URL that is linked, it’s not that there’s a valuable anchor here. So we can take this into account as a link but we can’t really use that anchor text for anything in particular. So from that point of view it’s a normal link but we don’t have any context there.”

What does this tell us? My biggest takeaways from this response are that 1. anchor text is important. Google is definitely still paying attention to the linked words within content, and 2. Google isn’t paying too close attention the the context of the anchor text. I would have expected John to lead with the idea that in the absence of anchor text, context, or the text surrounding the anchor text, is used to gain a sense of what the link is about, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. When asked about this John followed up with:

“Yeah, yeah… I mean that’s something we do definitely take into account but it’s very secondary. I mean there’s no kind of like value of strength for the context there but I’d say it’s like that anchor text is really obvious and we can collect that and we can look at that overall and kind of the context of the linking pages is something well. It’s like we also need to think about at some point. But the anchor text is really kind of the primary thing.”

So, long story short, anchor text is still important, and Google still leans on it to help them figure out what is important on a page.