At their core, best SEO practices often dictate that anchor text should be relevant to the page you are linking to, rather than just generic text. Of course, getting anchor text right is much more than merely choosing a relevant key phrase. How can you make sure you are writing and using anchor text correctly? This is something we are going to cover in today’s post.
What Anchor Text Is and What It Looks Like
Anchor text is basically the clickable text in a link. For example, an anchor text is the bold part of this sample line of HTML code: <a href=”http://www.abcdefghjklmsite.com/”>ABC Website</a> The relevancy of anchor text remains as long as backlinks matter. In the past, implementing anchor texts on one’s site is one of the easiest ways to rank, but now, it is also an easy way for Google to penalize over-optimization and spam.
Understanding How the Penguin Update Affected Anchor Text Usage
Before the first Penguin update (Here’s the last Penguin update), the common practice was to go buck wild with 100% exact match anchors for one’s backlinks. Surprisingly, that works and you would rank. Today, however, Penguin targets websites that are blatantly doing spammy, artificial, or low quality link building to game the search engine.
Google has an algorithm that analyzes link profiles, which is created when you build a backlink, get it indexed by Google and stored in its database for your specific website. Let’s say that your on-page content is optimized for “Home Renovation”. If 100% of your anchors are “Home Renovation”, you are going to get penalized.
Acceptable Anchor Text Percentages to Keep in Mind
The amount of featured branded anchors is often used to differentiate between a spam and brand website. It is imperative that you gain a firm understanding of all the different anchor text you can use and their percentages:
- Generic Anchors: 5%
- Branded Anchor Text: 70%
- Latent Semantic Indexing, Partial Match Anchors: 1-5%
- Naked Links: 20%
After generic, naked, and branded anchors, you have approximately 5% leeway left for the usage of keyword-rich anchors. Make sure the majority of it features variations of your main keyword. The percentage for exact match anchor text should be less than 1%!
Where You Should Place Your Anchor Text
Your choice of anchor text placement is absolutely critical to the success of your link building campaign. Below are some types of backlinks and the appropriate anchor text you should use with them:
- Power backlinks should be paired with keyword-rich anchor text
- Editorial links should be paired with exact match or partial match anchors
- Niche relevant guest posts should be paired with un-optimized or keyword-rich anchors
- Resource pages should be paired with branded anchors
When you are dealing with foundational links, you should note that they are designed to increase your site’s trust and dilute your anchor text profile. That’s why you should avoid using any keyword-rich anchors for the following link types:
- Profile links
- Social bookmarks
- Paid directories
- Business citations
- Niche relevant blog comments
- Forum signatures
- Sidebar/footer links
- Branded web 2.0s
- Press releases
- Traditional directories
With that in mind, acceptable alternatives for foundational links include generic, branded, and naked anchors.
What You Should Do if You Over-Optimize Your Anchor Text
It is possible to get your rankings back if you have been hit by an algorithmic penalty, provided that your text anchors are the problem. Here are some strategies to keep in mind when you over-optimize:
- You can remove links that feature commercial anchors
- You can use foundational links to dilute your anchor text profile
- Aim to get as much strong, relevant backlinks as possible
- Build real social profiles for your website
- Create quality press releases and distribute them through quality channels
Sound too confusing for you? Fret not, when you hire an online marketing company with specialization in SEO, you can leave the task of getting anchor text right to them!