I talk to people every single day about anchor text and I am constantly surprised by how much peoples’ opinions differ on the subject. Most are basing their opinions on what they’ve read on blogs from 2009 and 2010. Others have had personal experience with running campaigns and know what works and what doesn’t. In my role, I read as much as I can to stay up to date on the subject. But more importantly, I see the real live results of how anchor text impacts SEO, and I’d like to share that here.
First of all, let’s define anchor text. In the role of link building, anchor text refers to the words used in the hyperlink. Here’s an example: Anchor Text. I’ve used the words “anchor text”to link to the Wikipedia page about anchor text. Another example might be: Teardrop Trailers. You’ll see that when you click on the link, it takes you to a blog about teardrop trailers. This anchor text is important because it tells the search engines what the link is about. If the search engines crawl this link: Click Here, it doesn’t provide any signals as to what the page is about.
The use of anchor text can impact your overall ranking as well as how your site ranks for very specific keywords. But how the search engines interpret those anchor text signals has changed a lot over the last year. I remember attending a seminar in January 2010 at SMX where the hottest advice at the time was to use your keywords as your anchor text whenever possible. Well, a few things have changed since then, so here’s my best advice as of September 2011.
1) Use your brand, business name and your URL as your anchor text. (i.e.Nike or www.nike.com)At least 50% of your backlinks should fall into this category. Don’t believe it? Run a backlink report on the top competitors in your space and see what percentage of their links use their brand, business name or their URL as their anchor text. You may be surprised at what you find.
2) Take advantage of before and after text when possible.
This will give you an opportunity to use your brand and your keywords together.
3) Stop using your main keyword(s) over and over!
It doesn’t look natural.Let’s say you want to rank for the keyword “wedding photographer”. Do a search for this keyword and look at the bottom of the page. G pretty much gives you the keywords you should be targeting in your anchor text. Use these variations to make your backlink profile look more organic.
4) Use variations of your keyword.
Maybe you want to rank for “cheap Florida vacations.” Use alternatives for the word cheap. Try “affordable”, “bargain”, “low-cost”,”deals” etc.
5) Get internal links in new content.
One of Big G’s favorite things is fresh new content and links within relevant content can be particularly effective. Of course it’s great to get content and a link from sites other than your own,but don’t ignore the power of your own site. Add new content on your web page as often as you can and place internal links back to other pages of your site within the new content. Follow the same rules regarding the anchor text of these internal links. (Mix it up!) In the spirit of this strategy, here’s an internal link to an older post of mine regarding link building best practices.
6) Acquire backlinks to your internal pages.
So you just posted a new article on your site. You placed an internal link within the content, pointing it back to your home page. Good. Now go out and get some backlinks to the new article and that will have a positive impact on the new page and the overall site. G likes this and it looks very natural. BTW, if anyone wants to link back to this article, feel free.
Big picture – links gotta look natural, and anchor text is a big indicator. If 100 sites posted links back to you, wouldn’t it be fair to say that over 35 of them would probably use your brand, business name or URL as the anchor text?And the others certainly wouldn’t all use the same anchor text over and over. Some would use before and after text. Still others might point their links to your internal pages, rather than directly to your home page. When you’re building your links – see if you can think like those 100 sites.