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The Truth About Anchor Text And How To Use It

Anchor TextAnchor text will either make or break your SEO. It’s how other websites link to your own. Anchor text is the text used to link to a website. Another common word for anchor text is a hyperlink. Just a word or phrase that links to another website – that’s literally all it is.

It shocks me how so many people struggle to understand the concept of anchor text. It’s very simple, but plays a huge role in your overall rankings. If you want top rankings you need to pay very close attention to the anchor text you use. In every contextual backlink you build, you need to choose what you’re going to use for anchor text.

Anchor text is really the deciding factor of what a backlink will do for you in terms of search engine rankings. Whatever you use as anchor text, Google will boost you for. This means if you use “colon cleanse” as anchor text, Google will start ranking you for it.

Depending on the link, you may move from rank #344 to rank #340. Or you may well move from rank #200 to rank #20. It all depends on the quality of each link you build and of course, the quantity. Anchor text is exactly what controls the keywords you rank for.

If you want to move up for a certain keyword, use it as anchor text. Most SEO’s don’t properly understand so they constantly use the same anchor text. Too much of the same anchor text is unnatural and therefore seems mighty suspicious to the search engines.

I really can’t stress the importance of anchor text enough. There are two main factors that make anchor text effective. The relevancy of the anchor text and the relevancy of the page the anchor text is on. If you’re posting an article about dog training and using the anchor text “colon health”, it’s not relevant.

It will help, but won’t provide the same SEO value as anchor text from a relevant article.

There are four kinds of anchor text and they all provide different SEO value:

  • Exact Keyword Anchor Text (Excellent)
  • Broad Match Anchor Text (Great)
  • Commonly Used Anchor Text (Good)
  • URL Anchor Text (OK)

Let’s start with the excellent, exact keyword anchor text. These are links that use the exact keywords you want to rank for as anchor text. If you wanted to rank for “colon health”, the best possible anchor text to use would be “colon health”, the exact keyword.

Next is broad match anchor text. Broad match anchor text means relevant anchor text. Just keyword rich words people might use as anchor text when linking to your site. They can also be sub keywords you want to rank for. So if you’re trying to rank for “colon health” a good broad match anchor text would be “best colon health” or “colon health tips”.

Broad match anchor text doesn’t have to be made up. You can simply find relevant keywords that are low competition and use them as broad match AT.

You need to include more broad match anchor text in your link profile than any other. As although they might not be the exact keywords you want to rank for, they still contribute to your site’s overall rankings. When you use one keyword as anchor text, you start ranking for related keywords automatically.

That’s why using such a diverse range of anchor text is so important, you’ll eventually rank for hundreds if not thousands of other search terms. Next is the commonly used anchor text. This anchor text consists of words like “click here”, “here”, “website” and “site”.

They are just generic words people would use to link to your website. Most SEO’s don’t use generic anchor text like “click here” because they don’t think it provides any SEO value. The truth is it provides SOME SEO value, not a lot.

Naturally people link to websites using those generic terms, so it’s essential to mimic natural link building by using them. Lastly is the plain URL anchor text. This means just using a URL to link to your website i.e. http://website.com, no anchor text. A lot of the time people naturally link to websites by referencing URL’s instead of using a hyperlink.

URL anchor text provides the least SEO value, but is very helpful. It makes your link profile seem natural and keeps Google off your ass. Overall, you should have a wide variety of anchor text, mainly broad match and exact. You have to remember that Google doesn’t want webmasters doing SEO at all.

They don’t want you artificially building links. That’s why you need to make your links seem as natural as possible. When I tell people that Google doesn’t condone link building, they freak out thinking they’ve done something unethical. The truth is SEO is as fake as Pinocchio.

SEO Is A Lie

The whole SEO system is flawed and very much unfair. There is literally no way of ranking for any competitive keywords without heavy link building. So when it comes to anchor text, you need to vary it. Most SEO’s use around 90%+ exact keyword anchor text, 8% relevant keyword anchor text and perhaps 2% URL/generic anchor text.

That ratio of anchor texts works well. In fact it will get you faster rankings than any other ratio. However, anchor text leaves the biggest footprint for Google to find. Think about it. If Google decided to penalize everyone using black hat SEO, all they’d have to do is look at anchor text.

They could see who’s using 80%+ exact keyword anchor text for example and then penalize those guys. By those guys I mean a solid 70%+ of all webmasters. Google can see exactly what anchor text your links have. So clearly it’s imperative that you use a wide variety.

Just the other day I told a friend of mine to order 200 web2.0 properties. Against my advice, he had all 200 of them use the same anchor text. Guess what happened? A week later he was on page one, rank #1 for his keyword. He was certain I was wrong and that he “showed me”. Then just 8 days later he fell to page 3, then page 5 and finally landed himself on page unknown.

From what I’ve learnt, the best ratio is:

  • 50% Primary Keyword Anchor Text
  • 30% Relevant Keywords Anchor Text
  • 10% Generic (click here, website etc) Keywords
  • 10% URL No Anchor Text

You could argue that using 60% to 70% is absolutely fine. To that I say yeah, it works great right now. But if Google was ever to pay even more attention to anchor text; you’ll be screwed.

The 50/30/10/10 ratio seems natural, yet still gives you enough exact keyword anchor text links to get the rankings you desire. Diversity is the biggest SEO secret in existence, especially when it comes to anchor text. It’s not so much a secret anymore, but still ignored by most SEO’s. As I keep telling my students, SEO is dead simple.

There’s no reason why you can’t learn or fully understand it. To gain top rankings that stick, you need to carefully build a huge variety of backlinks. You need to start small and slowly work your way up to building hundreds or thousands of links per day. Make every link seem natural.

In the beginning, don’t use exact keyword anchor text, try to minimize it as much as possible for the first few month’s of your site’s existence. Websites don’t just appear and start getting exact keyword anchor text backlinks the next day.

Initially sites get broad match, generic and URL anchor text backlinks. Most SEO’s make the mistake of instantly optimizing their new sites to the teeth for their keywords. This usually means having insanely high keyword density, keyword in title, description and of course the header tags.

Once they over optimize their websites, they start building exact keyword anchor text the very next day. It’s not natural and if you follow this stupid advice, you will get penalized in the long run.

In Prosperity,

David Wood

P.S. Leave me your thoughts, comments and questions below. Also put your name and email address in the form on the right for more cool SEO tips, tricks and secrets.

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7 comments
Ankit
Ankit

You are kind of right here, penguin update was based on this particular factor, linking with click here, direct website url, my blog etc etc will be better to make ur links look natural.

Micah
Micah

Interesting, but many bloggers focus on a different keyword for each blog post. If you are doing deep linking, which or course you should, then each time you go to SEO your new blog post you will be using different anchor text anyway. I don't even worry about building links to my main url. I only seo with deep linking, and I get 80% of my traffic from search engines.

Click here
Click here

See what I did here? . . . . (Look at my username.) Ps. Great advice as always.

Tyronne Ratcliff
Tyronne Ratcliff

Great tips Dave, one of the best tutorials I've seen so far on the right way to use anchor text, thanks.

Astro Gremlin
Astro Gremlin

Well, David, this is an amazingly precise prescription for anchor text ratios. If only the sites on which I comment would let me do much more than leave my homepage URL, I would be in great shape. My ratio is something 85% + with my name pointing to my homepage.

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