Don’t ever use your name on the Internet!

Actually I should explain that comment…..

Now that the dust has settled from the latest adjustments in Google’s ranking formula, I thought I’d spend a little time looking at what it means for the small(er) marketer….with a cautionary tale of my own.

You may have been hit by the beak of the Penguin when your awesome RoastedGreenPeanuts site got penalized for having too many exact match anchor links pointing to it, and I’m willing to bet that for many of you the Exact Match Domain update hasn’t helped at all in that regard.

Google has now helpfully provided us with a way to “disavow” any links that we feel may be harming out sites, ostensibly so we can protect ourselves from malicious linking. What this says about Google’s historic denial of black-hat anti-SEO techniques is neither here nor there, but it’s just one more way for us all to “shop” others in the SEO world. You can find a great analysis of some of the factors on Lisa Parmley’s site and watch out for the first sign of others disavowing all your main links.

Lisa talks explicitly about the way that a company like CNN will have a ton of natural links that spread the cloud of anchor names across their whole site and this is obviously one of the great lessons that we all need to learn with respect to our own blogs. Even just posting your updates to Facebook and Twitter with a pointer to the post (not the home page) will start to get you better (un)optimised.

The biggest lesson for me has been that I now need to be some kind of “cipher” on the internet, particularly with regard to this site. Google has decided, rightly or wrongly, that if I tell you who I am too often and in too many places, that I am somehow trying to cheat their results for my site.

Like many of you, I like to comment on other blogs. I like to say who I am (it feels polite) and so I use my name and my site in that little blog comment box at the bottom of the post. I feel it makes it personal – I’m obviously not spamming the internet with the keywords “Best Internet Marketing Course” or some such tosh.

Unfortunately, if we look behind the scenes, it turns out that I am doing exactly that. With every comment I leave, I put my name as the anchor, pointing back to a site with my name.com as the url, and before you know it Google have decided that my evil plans for world domination of my own name – that oh so valuable keyword – have gone too far.They feel it necessary to nuke my rankings and award the whole front page to 10 entries from another site, as if that is going to help the searching public in some way.

How can I get out of this hole? I obviously need to completely change the mix of anchor links coming back to my site, but you know what, none of the originals are bad in any way, so I’m buggered if I’m going to report myself for normal activity. That does mean that I will just have to build more links with other anchors and that will be super-slow to achieve properly, but it feels like a better solution in the long run.

What does it mean for you? Don’t Use Your Name in Comments!

Don’t be tempted to blindly use your “name” as the only thing you ever put in the name field of comments boxes…..especially if you also have your name as the domain name you are pointing to. I’m now using the full URL and just my first name as alternative ways to mix things up a bit….at least they still give a feel for who I am without all being the same.

The other thing is to try to link back to posts throughout your blog more. Sites always gain more links to the home page, but interesting articles should be getting links too, and so make sure that you include them in your linking strategy – even if it’s only to use the social sites to announce them (guess where I’m going after I publish this!).

The nice thing is if you have already chosen to build a brand name rather than your own. In that case, you are probably already linking back with specific page pointers – there are only so many ways you can use Nergglr (or whatever your awesome brand is called) in a link – and it’s quite likely you’ve just signed comments as yourself, rather then as your brand, so your safe from the EMD/Penguin one-two punch. In that case, just keep up the good work!

Let me know what you think about all the recent shenanigans by Google (and don’t forget to tweak your name!).

About Martin Percival

Martin Percival is an Internet Marketer with 28 years of experience in the IT world. He uses his technical skills to help others gain a foothold on the internet. You can track him around the internet on Google Facebook and Twitter

3 Responses to “Why Google Wants You to Be a Brand not a Person”

  1. Sorina Dascalu

    Hi Martin,

    Great advice! I was thinking the same, while checking the backlinks profile of my new website I noticed more then 80% of the backlinks pointing to it have my full name in the anchor text. And surprise: Until a few weeks ago, my new website was ranking #3 for my full name. Now is nowhere to be found in top 100 for that query…
    I agree with you that some diversity is needed if all the backlinks to a website are from comments on other blogs. But since it is not really logical I think maybe the best option would be to diversify the backlinks sources, bring to the website other types of backlinks too, in a percentage that will make all these comments backlinks will become inoffensive. What do you think?

  2. Kay Franklin

    Hi Martin

    I have also read Lisas report – as always full of excellent common sense.

    It is very silly the way that Google has done this. I don’t believe that it will stay like this – in fact I have been noticing a shift in search results – Google dancing around a bit. One search I did had the very same site taking up the top 17 positions! So obviously something is not right! The site that took my slot has now disappeared so I am keeping my fingers crossed that when things settle down I may reappear as No.1! 🙂

    Certainly mixing up anchor text has always been the sensible thing to do but in terms of your name? Maybe it is too difficult to add something like that into the algorithm?

    I’m waiting to see what happens….

    Kay

  3. Martin Percival

    Hi Sorina,

    You are absolutely right about having other sources of links, but you still need to vary the anchor text. I think if we all focus on linking to posts (which should naturally have other terms in the link) then this will help the kind of diversification you mention.

    Martin

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