Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Link Text Rules

Some are alleging that what other web sites say in their links to you matters more than what’s actually on your web site. I don’t believe that’s completely true, but a couple of recent pranks clearly illustrate the power of link text.

Link text, if you’re not sure, is the text that comprises the actual hyperlink to another web page or web site. In the article below from August 24, the link for Google Talk points to the web page but it doesn’t say that. It says “Google Talk”. What the link actually says makes a big difference.

You may have heard that if you do a search for “miserable failure” or “worst president”, the #1 result in the search engines is the official biography of President George W. Bush. Try it: go to Google and type in either search term and see what you get.

Now if you go to President Bush’s biography and search it for the word “miserable” or the word “worst”, you’ll find neither one anywhere on the page. How can that be?  Apparently, many bloggers have created links that say “miserable failure” and “worst president” in the link text but which point to President Bush’s biography. So the #1 result you found in Google was driven entirely by link text.

The Moral of the Story

Take this to heart when you’re requesting links to your site. By default, most people giving you links will thoughtlessly give you a link that states your URL, like That doesn’t help you nearly as much as a link pointing to the same page that says  Elderlaw Attorneys in NewJersey.

  1. Hey, thanks for the advice. 🙂

    • You’re welcome, Randall. I should point out that a lot has changed since this was written in 2005, and you definitely don’t want all inbound links to be keyword-rich: that looks suspicious to Google. You DO want plenty of good, authoritative inbound links though. It looks like your site needs some work in that regard — let me know if we can help.

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