Among SEO professionals, anchor text selection is a hotly debated topic.
In the early days, SEO experts did almost everything to rank their sites on Google, from building PBN to using software to generate links automatically. And all this worked well!
But not anymore, with every passing day, the algorithms got sharper to pick up patterns of the slightest spamming possibilities and penalize the sites involved, so much so, that now the algorithms have become so sophisticated that they don’t rely on backlink signals but instead the user behavior to judge a website or a backlink for its intended purpose.
Thus the use of backlinks has undergone a radical shift, from just mere numbers to more complex parameters like content relevance, niche or industry relevance, the likability of engagement and perceived action orientation, and a lot more.
Anchor Texts, likewise, play a pivotal role in the effectiveness of backlinks campaigns. Here in this article, I try to explain my own unique way of looking at anchor texts based on a website’s life cycle stage. This approach has helped me manage link-building campaigns at scale and yet be effective and profitable and not to mention, penalty-free.
Hyperlink text is the clickable, visible material you can find on a link (hyperlink). It often appears blue, yellow, or underlined on a web page and is vital for communicating information with regard to meaning, concept, or actionable to visitors.
The debate rages on about the type of anchor texts that are best, and how they can negatively impact your backlink profile. You may wonder what anchor texts to use for links, especially in light of the Google algorithm update that took place in April 2018.
While there isn’t a conclusive answer, according to Matt Cutts: “the best strategy is usually writing natural-sounding text and leave link anchors up to 100 characters.”
Here’s what good anchor texts look like and how they can be used as part of a solid link-building strategy.
Anchor Text Types
Google prefers EXACT MATCHES – TO WHAT EXTENT! Do not fear exact matches.
Before I move ahead let’s take a look at Google’s official stance on this.
Google has advised the following about utilizing anchor text for both search engines and readers:
When you’re writing a description for the link, include phrases that describe what information is available on the website. Without the surrounding text, backlinks should make sense.
When selecting anchor text for links on your site, choose words that describe what the reader will get when they follow the link.
If someone clicks on an anchor text “link building Strategies,” they should be directed to a link building strategies post.
An exact anchor text match! Is it bad or good?
The answer to this is probably ‘Yes’ and ‘no’.
According to Google, link text should contain the exact title or head you are referencing in your text in spite of using phrases such as ‘click here or ‘learn more.
The underlying reason is it offers a better user experience and becomes quite easy for search engines to crawl. Users will know what they are getting when they click and they click only when they want to actually know more.
This probably doesn’t mean you exploit your rankings. Like you shouldn’t be guest posting on 200 websites and stuffing exact match anchors in every piece you publish. Google identifies this as a form of link spam, which can be subjected to penalties, manual action, etc.
Every anchor should be different and not the same.
In nutshell acquiring loads of natural backlinks with related or exact match anchors just serves perfectly. Lastly, come up with creative and unique ways for describing the link you are obtaining or referring to which will prove useful for the readers or users.
Anchor text – For example, a link with – “content marketing strategies” as the anchor text linking to a page about the relevant topic of content marketing. Just see that content marketing is a part of the anchor, but not the entire phrase.
Like the exact matches, the partial match anchors should not be overused. Be it the exact or partial match no single term or phrase should make up more than 1% of your total links. Creative and unique variations will add more juice.
Branded Anchor Text
Supposing a link from another site points to Rank-Jacker SEO with the anchor text “Rank-Jacker SEO”, this is a branded link. Building branded links is an effective and conservative means for growing strong Google rankings, the anchor text within these links should consist of branded and variant anchors, or terms related to your product.
When it comes to anchor text selection, brands are less likely to be penalized by Google because they typically rank for their own brand name which is the primary use of the anchor.
Branded anchors are preferable because they do not appear as an attempt to fool up Google, especially since numerous sites easily rank for their brand names. Moreover, mentioning a brand by name is very natural because it’s often done in reviews and other types of writing.
Naked URL Anchor Text
This link type is one that points directly to your website and is the anchor text. For instance, https://rank-jacker.com can be both the link and text used for linking as well.
Links like this are common in biographies, lists of sources, or even on other resource pages. Include both branded and partial-branded anchors, as well as naked URL links as they all help improve your anchor text profile quality.
A generic anchor text is specifically one that does not contain keywords, branding, or URL. One common generic anchor text is ‘read more, ‘know more’, ‘click here, etc.
You can use this type of anchor text to make up 5-10% of your total profile and even more in some cases. If you have an over-optimized profile, use generic anchors in place of brand names to dilute though branded names are preferable.
When an image is linked, Google uses the text in the alt attribute of the IMAGE as anchor text.
LSI – Latent Semantic Indexing Anchors
Probably a lesser-known concept of LSI, or Latent Semantic Indexing, these anchor texts are everything about using variations of your keywords.
This type of anchor text enables you to rank for multiple keywords at the same time, giving you the chance to cover many bases. Use LSI keywords to enter the search results for highly competitive key phrases.
Google always recommends LSI keywords that have already been searched for. These suggestions by Google can offer you a general idea of what latent semantic indexing- LSI is and how to go about creating keyword phrases that are relevant and relatable.
There are some experts that don’t believe latent semantic indexing will benefit your SEO, but other experts still recommend it as a moderate part of an overall strategy. Just ensure you incorporate this into your content in a natural and coherent manner.
Best Strategies For Perfect Anchor Text Selection
URL or Link relevancy is a purely natural phenomenon.
In all my blogs I had been talking about the relevancy and relatable aspect of link building.
It is determined by the following:
The topic of the source page.
The content of anchor text on the specific source page.
For readers or users, the URLs that have a proper match will surely help them to relate to what they are searching for. When you provide an input link, think about whether the linked page offers something that’s of value to your reader.
As no one will be interested in an irrelevant link that may leave them confused and irritated. Such links may appear manipulative too. Hence keep a relevant and consistent structure for SEO practices.
Relevance is what both Google and site owners are looking for.
To establish trust with your visitors, they need to know that you are using sources and linking practices in their interest. Studies demonstrate that sites with at least one proximal keyword anchor text have a greater chance of being ranked higher.
Google still values keywords in the anchor text; these should be relevant to what you are linking to and provide a general idea of the content.
Even the search engines “pay attention” to different anchor text variations being used to link back to the original article. Keeping your anchor text as descriptive of the target page will ensure your links send strong relevancy signals.
Incorporating The Right Mix Of Anchor Text Types
If an exact match is your target then Google’s spam filter will go off and there are fairer chances of your site being penalized.
If you only link to the names of your brand, such as “ABC Store” or anything that is duplicated word for word, it won’t have much effect on the ranking of your site. While you are on the go of creating a strategy for anchor texts that would help your SEO then staying unique with a varied approach is the best.
You can use a mixture of anchor types mentioned above for your link building.
Pro Tip: Just note that the right mix of anchor text may vary for different sites.
Concise Anchor Text
When choosing anchor text to link back, it’s a good idea to keep your words concise (though there isn’t any specific limit).In the end, it is important to build all your anchor text links using two primary factors:
Which is an accurate way to describe the linked-to-page?
What title or words would encourage users to click on a link?
Low Keyword Density
Especially after the Penguin algorithm update, Google started looking more minutely at keywords in the anchor text. In case any site’s inbound links have a similar anchor text, it can appear suspicious and may indicate that those links were not acquired naturally.
Generally, it’s still best practice to use keyword- and topic-specific anchor text. However, search engine optimization experts may find more success by choosing a variety of anchor text phrases over opting for the same keyword repeatedly. You can also check out our guide on How to do Keyword Research & Analyze Your Keywords for SEO.
Pro Tip: Don’t over-emphasize keyword-heavy internal links.
Test & Track Your Anchor Texts
Choosing which anchor texts you use on your website will take time. Though it’s the only way to test how they affect your SEO over time.
When you start planning your anchor text strategy, I recommend using Linkio’s URL anchor text categorizer.
As long as you see a variety of anchor texts linking to your website, then you’re making the right move.
Remember that anchor texts are the content of hyperlinks pointing back to your site, and Google treats them as a signal for content relevance.
With time and the right approach, you can build a great backlink anchor base for your own brand to witness brilliant results.
From the author
I am the CEO. The reason I get out of bed every day is because I love helping people to grow their web design or digital marketing businesses. I do this through coaching, creating courses, speaking, consulting and heading up our awesome community.
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