Over the years there have been many changes to SEO tactics and best practices. One of the biggest changes in the last two years has been the use of anchor text.
Before the first Penguin update, there was the general mindset that links couldn’t hurt a website’s organic positioning. This gave SEO practitioners the opinion that they should get as many links as possible using the exact anchor text they are trying to go after.
As we all know, using the tactic of generating excessive amounts of over optimized links has had a very detrimental effect on a lot of websites.
After looking at all of the evidence over the last few years, it is my opinion that the radio of exact match anchor text is the main factor Google uses for determining unnatural linking profiles.
As most of you know, if Google determines you have an unnatural linking profile, they usually hand out a stiff penalty. Getting over one of these linking penalties can take months of very hard work to get lifted.
Our strong recommendation is to do things right! That way you never have to deal with an organic linking penalty.
We want to talk to you about a few different tactics you can use to make sure you are getting the most out of your anchor text. Following these principles should ensure you don’t get hit by the next Google update.
Use of Generic Terms as Anchor Text
After all of the big 2012 updates, people started to see that Google was looking for a more organic linking profile. This encouraged SEO practitioners to start building links with generic terms as the anchor text.
When we refer to “generic terms,” we are talking about using words like “click here”, “visit website”, and “read more” as the anchor text. The purpose of this tactic is obviously to skew the ratio of exact match terms in your linking profile. This is all in the hope of having a more natural looking set of inbound links.
We definitely recommend staying away from this practice. Google actually put out a warning in 2010 about using generic terms as anchor text. Here is what they had to say.
If this was Google’s message a few years ago, you can only assume they have gotten more strict in the past few updates.
What is The Current Ratio of Your Website’s Anchor Text
The first thing you need to do before trying to naturalize your Website’s inbound links is analyze the current anchor text profile. There are a few easy tools that will assist in getting this done right. We highly recommend using the Moz Open Site Explorer tool. Simply put your domain in the tool, and click search.
After you have clicked on the search button, you will see several different tabs. Click on the “Anchor Text” link. That will show you the anchor text associated with your inbound links.
Doing an analysis of our current anchor text will help you determine what kind of links you need to build to naturalize your profile. We highly recommend getting started on these efforts before your website gets hit with a stiff penalty.
Proper Techniques for Diversifying Anchor Text Profile
There is a wide range of different variations you can use to help diversify your website’s anchor text.
The main thing you need focus on is the importance of writing high quality piece of content.
With that being the foundation of your external link building campaign, you can start to use some of these techniques to improve the ratio of exact match anchor text.
Company or Brand Name as Anchor Text
Using the company or brand name of a business is the easiest way to start diversifying a website’s anchor text.
If you think about it, any natural link profile will have a very large number of these kinds of links. We recommend building at least 30% of your inbound links to have the brand name as the anchor text.
URL as Anchor Text
A natural linking profile will have a large number of URL based anchor text. One thing to remember when using the URL is to include different variations. Below are a few examples:
We recommend having at lease 20% of your inbound links using some form of the URL. Again, this is the ratio of most natural linking profiles.
Long-Tail Variation (Phrase Match)
A great way to get diversity in your backlink profile is to use many different long-tail variations of your keywords. Below are a few examples of this principle. You can see “inbound marketing” is the clear target keyword in all 3 examples. We have added the whole search phrase as the anchor text.
– Digital Flavor believes in cutting edge design & inbound marketing.
– Please visit our website for information about inbound marketing.
– We believe inbound marketing is the new solution to SEO.
We recommend having at least 15% of your inbound links using some form of phrase match as the anchor text.
Co-Citation or Co-Occurrence is the New Anchor Text
All of the above techniques play into Google’s new way of evaluating links and content. We call this new principle Co-Citation or Co-Occurrence.
The idea is that Google is looking at the keyword density, heading tags, and content around a link as it pertains to the relevancy of the piece of content. That means you can still pass on value about your target keyword without using it as the anchor text in a link. Below is an example of Co-Citation.
– Digital Flavor team members have a combined experience in online marketing of over 20 years. They have a strong believe that inbound marketing is the future of SEO. Please visit their website for a free inbound marketing analysis.
You can see that the link in this example is “visit their website.” Back in the old days of Google, this would be the only term that received any value with the link. However, with the advancements in Co-Occurrence, the surrounding terms like “inbound marketing” will pass relevancy through the link.
The Backbone to a Great Linking Profile
The days of creating junk content filled with exact match anchor text are quickly coming to an end. Even if you are really careful about how you use your anchor text, low quality link building revolves around trying to trick Google.
So what is the Solution?
You didn’t think we were going to end this post without telling you the solution to this whole predicament, did you? Real content marketing is the future of SEO.
Creating information that adds value to your community and answers questions is the sustainable way to generate high quality links. Having this as the backbone of your online marketing efforts will ensure you never have to deal with over optimization problems.