SEO Case Study: Backlink Deletion Penalty Is Huge, Anchor Text Is Still Important

I accidentally ran a study a few weeks ago. Why or what I was doing isn’t the point, but what happened was I owned an EMD for a very low competition keyword. It ranks on the first page of Google with a very small GSA SER blast. The website contains really nothing but an h1 title and an image. It’s essentially an empty website.

So here we have an EMD domain ranking in the top 5 for a very low competition keyword.

I think took an aged web 2.0 profile, which didn’t have the keyword at all on the page. Yes, the keyword, nor any variations of it appeared on the page. I linked to this web 2.0 from the EMD with exact match anchor text. The website immediately shot up to the #1 result on Google.

Yes, by using an exact match anchor text, linking from a very relevant domain (keyword was in the domain, the h1 tag, the image alt text, etc), I was able to make a page, that didn’t have any onsite optimization for the keyword, rank #1 on Google.

I then removed the backlink from my EMD website. What happened? The website is now gone from the SERPs again, completely. I manually checked the first 5 pages of Google, and there was nothing.

There are 3 big take-aways from what happened:

  • Backlinks from a page that’s already top 10 in the SERPs are way more powerful than measuring backlinks by things like trust flow or any other form of metrics.
  • The link deletion penalty is something that we all need to pay very close attention to. A single backlink could be holding our site in spot, and the loss of that backlink would immediately drop us from the SERPs.
  • Using exact match anchor texts still work, and it even works if there is no on site optimization for the keyword.

Now, you’re saying… Okay Josh, so how the heck do you expect me to steal a backlink from a competitor’s website that’s already on the first page of Google? Do you really think my competitors are that stupid?

You need to remember, that the top 10 results are not always competitors. There could be directories, or my favourite, there could be forum threads where you can simply register and append your link in the thread, assuming it fits and you feel you won’t get banned. For the current events niche, I’ve wrote a blog post for a business, then added it to a forum thread that was about the event. The link was nofollow but it did 2 things for me. First, it indexed my blog post, which would normally take several days for my client’s site to get crawled by Google, and it also put the blog post, exactly 1 position above the forum thread. Result #1 and 2 were editorial, result #3 was the blog post, result #4 was a forum thread and #5-10 were syndicates and other editorial articles.

Good luck! Any questions, please ask, and I’ll add more info to my post.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Carl July 21, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Interesting. So this confirms the importance of targetting all pbn content on a page as close as possible to the exact money site KWs. Essentially we’d do best ranking the pbn highly for the money site KW to get a powerful boost.

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