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The Ultimate Anchor Text Guide For Link Building and How To Properly Use Anchor Text

Anchor Text Guide

You may be wondering just what anchor text is and how you can use it. We have compiled a guide that will show you how to use it in order to maximize your SEO results.

What is Anchor Text?

When you see a link that has wording that you are able to click on, that is known as anchor text.

Why Does Anchor Text Matter?

As long as backlinks are important, the anchor text will always matter. Before the Penguin update took place back in 2012, anchor text was considered to be one of the easiest ways for Google to understand how relevant any given website was.

Now, Google uses it to penalize things such as spam and over-optimization. However, this does not mean that anchor text is becoming unimportant or meaningless at all.

When used in the way that we are going to discuss, it can actually prove to be stronger than it has ever been in importance.

Anchor Text Prior to Penguin

Before Penguin did the first update, you could go crazy with your anchor text. Every single one of your backlinks could have exact matches and you would still get a great ranking. It was literally too simple and Google realized that they had to make some changes. The change came in the form of the Penguin update.

Anchor Text After the Update

When the first update to Penguin happened in 2012, it changed the way link building worked. Penguin began to target websites that produced low-quality link building that was too fake or full of spam. So how exactly did they begin determining if a website was using links that were full of spam or fake to increase their rank? The answer is very simple. They used Anchor Text. So, why did they do this you may be wondering. This is because a normal website should not have a setup with all of its backlinks using the same exact wording such as “Money Advances”. It is important for a user to understand how Penguin analyzes Anchor Text and then determines if that site should be penalized or not. It is not as complicated as you might think. However, it is imperative that you understand how it works in order to avoid getting unnatural links manual links penalty yourself.

This is how penguin works:
  • You build your backlink
  • Google then indexes the backlink
  • Google places the backlink you created into its database for your individual website and this becomes what is known as your link profile
  • The previous 3 steps are then repeated over again and again and you have a “link profile” that their algorithm can use for analysis purposes
Now, the magic begins.
Your link profile is analyzed by the algorithm. It is then compared to the optimization of your on-site keywords. If it is found that you have content on your page that is optimized for “Money Advances” and every single one of your anchors is “Money Advances” then you will certainly get penalized by Google.
The reasoning behind this is that it is very easy for the algorithm of Google to see that:
  • You are trying to rank for the term “Money Advances”
  • You are building links that look artificial.

So, basically, if your anchor text and keyword optimization are an exact match, it will result in a Penguin penalty for you. Now the big question is, how do you prevent getting penalized? It is important to understand not only how but when you should use your anchors that are rich in keywords. In the following sections, this is exactly what we are going to teach you to do.

10 Different Variations of Anchor Text

In order to create an anchor-text profile that is natural, it is important that you understand the different kinds of anchors that there are.

Branded Anchors

When you use an anchor with your brand name in it, that is referred to as a “branded anchor”. If you have a domain that is branded, using branded anchors is pretty much the safest kind of anchor text that you can use. If you take a look at some of the big brand’s link profiles, you can see just how powerful branded anchors really are. For example, Nordstrom, BestBuy, and WebMD all have very successful branded links.

Naked Link Anchors

When an anchor uses a raw URL, it is referred to as a “naked” link. These types of links often look like the following examples:
  • http://www.marketing1on1.com
  • www.marketing1on1.com
  • Marketing1on1.com

Image Anchors

Using image links with your profile is a great way to set your profile apart from the rest. It is usually something that will stick out in peoples mind. Google uses the tag “ALT” in an image as the anchor text.

Keyword + Brand Anchor

This type of anchor is another way to stay in the safe zone and prevent being penalized. It is also very helpful in building an anchor profile that is not only diverse but very natural as well. For this example, we will use the brand “Website SEO” and the target keyword “link building“.

This is what the anchor text would look like:
  • Website SEO Ahrefs
  • Anchor text by Website SEO
  • Website SEO link building concepts
What you want to do is just combine your brand with your target keyword.

LSI Anchors

“LSI” is simply an acronym for “Latent Semantic Indexing”. While it may sound complicated, it really is not. When using this you are just going to use different varieties of your main keyword. If you want to target “backlinks”, some of the LSI keywords that you could use would be:

  • How to create backlinks
  • What is the purpose of backlinks
  • How to use backlinks
It is very easy to find LSI keywords to use. You just have to enter the keyword you want to use and then scroll to the bottom and you will find many examples that you can use.

Partial-Match Anchors

Partial match anchors and LSIs are very much alike. The biggest difference is that you are creating a variation to the anchor text rather than using a tool. Some examples of good target keywords for “anchor text” are:

  • The anchor text guide
  • Anchor text reference
  • Informative anchor text post
When you use partial-match anchors often on your site, it is a way to naturally link your site to another site.

Exact Match Anchors

When it comes to anchor text, using exact match anchors are at the top. These type of anchors can increase your rankings without a doubt. However, they can also result in you having a penalty. When you use an anchor that is an exact match, you are matching your target keyword and your target page exactly.

Co-Occurrence: Building Your Relevancy Without Using Exact Match Anchors

Before we talk about the percentages, it is important to have a good understanding of co-occurrence. This term may leave some people feeling very confused. Don’t be. It is very simple actually. You will not be using a lot of anchor text that is rich in keywords. Due to this, you will need to get creative in coming up with links that are relevant.

Keep in mind, the key to successful link building is to have relevancy. In order to obtain to co-occurrence effect that you want, it is necessary to place the keyword that you are targeting close to your anchor text. You want to place it as close to your anchor as possible. Of course, it is not mandatory that you do this, however it is a great idea to do so.

Example 1: Generic Anchor
Keyword Target: “anchor text”
Anchor Text: “visit here”
“If you are searching for more resources on how to create effective anchor text, visit here.”

Example 2: Branded Anchor
Keyword Target: “anchor text”
Anchor Text: “Website SEO”
“Anchor text is the link that you can see and click on in a link. You can find out more information about how it works in the write-up by Website SEO.”

Example 3: Naked Link
Keyword Target: “anchor text”
Anchor Text: https://www.marketing1on1.com/anchor-text/
“For more information about how to build effective anchor text, check out this article: https://www.marketing1on1.com/anchor=text/”

Add Your Anchor Text to Content That is Relevant

Down below, you will see a few examples of content that I believe could be great for building links. The more relevant information that your article is to your keyword, the higher your ranking will be.

Keyword: “anchor text”
Rather than writing an article that is broad in topic about building links, you should write articles that are more directly about your anchor text. The more packed with relevant information your article is, the stronger it will be.

Keyword: “San Francisco personal injury lawyer”
For this one, you could write an article such as “Tips For Finding a Great Personal Injury Lawyer in San Francisco” rather than a general article about personal injury.

Keyword: “pure forskolin”
Rather than writing an article that covers weight loss and general tips, it would be better to write an article such as “5 Common Pure Foskolin Side Effects to Look Out For”.

Concluding Co-Occurrence

Remember that you want to have your links surrounded by information that is high in relevancy in order to increase their worth and power. Google has the capacity to understand just how relative a link is without you having to push them super hard. Now we are going to talk about anchor text percentages that you need to put to good use in order to see outstanding results on your site and to avoid those dreaded penalties.

Anchor Text Percentages

We have reviewed all of the different types of anchor text that you can use and hopefully you have a good understanding of them now. Now, we are going to show you the anchor text percentages that will keep your sites in the safe zone throughout every single Penguin update. Remember, just because these percentages work well for one site, does not necessarily mean they will work the same for other sites. It is crucial to do your own testing with your own percentages and figure out what is going to work best for your site.

Branded Anchor Text: 30%
The goal of Google is to have everyone create a brand. By doing this, they are hoping to eliminate those operations that are just passing through. One of the ways that they tell the difference between a “brand” and a website that is spam is to take a look at how many branded anchors are visiting the site.

Naked Links: 40%+
As we talked about previously, naked links are not only very natural, but they are safe as well. The majority of the backlinks you use should be naked links.

Generic Anchors: 10%
Generic anchors are necessary to your site. They give your link profile a natural appearance. You want to avoid using “click here” for all of them. What this means is that you can use basically any word that is not related to your keyword and it will be deemed generic.

LSI Partial Match Anchors: 10%
So once you figure up your branded, generic, and naked anchors, you should be left with about 5% for your keyword-rich anchors. The major part of your 5% should be many varieties of your keyword.

Exact Match Anchors Text: Less Than 10%
It is ideal to use match anchor text as a final resort rather than making it a top option.

Keep in mind, the less you use exact match anchor text, the more power it will hold. If you assign a percentage of distribution to exact match anchor text, you are certainly welcoming many problems with penalties.

Stop and think about this:
What if we take the exact match anchor text ratio of 20% that is recommended by some SEOS, and do a bit of figuring.
Site A: 100 backlinks = 20 exact match anchors
This is certainly possible and would have a very low risk for your site.
Site B: 1,000 backlinks – 200 exact match anchors
It is highly unlikely that there will be 200 different websites that link to your page using the exact same anchor text.
Site C: 10,000 backlinks = 2000 exact match anchors
This scenario is impossible. If it were to happen, it would be a huge red flag to Penguin and you would certainly be penalized. Now is it easier to understand why it is a bad idea to assign a percentage to exact match anchors?

Now for the good news:
We are going to share with you a technique that is far more effective that filling your site with exact match anchors. We are going to introduce you to what is known as anchor text cycling.

Anchor Text Cycling Lands Higher Rankings Using Fewer Backlinks
This is how anchor text cycling works:
1. Hit your target page with some type of exact match anchor
2. Hit your site with anchor text variety that is unoptimized
3. Keep track of your rankings and watch as you progress
4. If necessary, hit your site with another exact match anchor
If you make sure you follow this process the correct way and that you have strong content, then it is quite likely that you will not need very many exact match anchors. The general idea of anchor text cycling is to be able to spread all of your exact match anchors over the time of a few months. This results in a site that is much more natural.

Here is an example:
You have a website that is brand new. It has a fresh link profile that has not had any backlinks built yet. The first thing you want to do is hit that target page with an exact match anchor that is not only relevant but, strong as well. You are probably thinking that this could be quite dangerous. It is not. There has never been anyone to receive a penalty for just one link. Sites receive penalties for their overall link profiles, rather than for just one or two links. It is like saying someone is overweight because they visited a candy store one time. We all know that obesity is the result of having a bad diet over a long period of time, not something that happens after one time of eating candy. The same can be said for your link profile. If you continually create backlinks that are full of spam and over-optimized, that will certainly result in you getting a penalty.

So why is it a good idea to use an exact match anchor for your first backlink?
It will allow you to see how the site is going to react as well as give you the opportunity to establish what the target page is geared towards right away. Remember, it doesn’t take a large number of backlinks in order to rank high for most keywords. When it comes to links, you want to keep your focus on quality rather than quantity. If you play it wisely when using anchor text, it will not take you as many links to rank. Once you use an exact match anchor on your site, you can begin to cycle. When building a natural link profile, you want to use anchor cycling in order to obtain diversity.

Would you like to know the key to having an anchor profile that is natural?
The answer is very simple. Be random. Try to avoid being repetitive. Google’s algorithm is set up to seek out sites that are building too many spammy links. They throw up a huge red flag and could result in penalties. Not only is it important to understand how you need to cycle your anchors, but you also need to understand where you should place them.

Laser-Targeted Anchor Text Placement

If you take the time to read and understand what we are about to tell you, then you will be virtually 99.9% safe when Google does their updates. If you want to have a successful link building campaign, it is imperative to understand where you should place your anchor text. Once Google devalues a platform for link building, many SEOs stop using it immediately. This is not the right way to go about it. The only reason why platforms like web directories and press releases have been devalued is die to the fact that so many people use anchor text from commercial sources trying to beat out the search engine. Even though many of these properties have been devalued, they are actually very good sources to gain trust and authority for your website with the use of the correct anchor text. Next, we are going to show you every type of backlink and anchor text that you should use.

“Powerful” Backlinks

Any links that result in a big impact on the rankings of your keyword are known as “Power” links.

Editorial Links

When a link is naturally placed in the content on a website, it is referred to as an editorial backlink. Sometimes these types of links can require a bit of investment and a great deal of time. You do not want to waste your time or money by using an anchor that is not optimized. Editorial links provide you with the opportunity to use either a partial match anchor or an exact match anchor.

Niche Relevant Guest Posts

If you come across sites that allow guest posts, they will usually let you leave a backlink in the bio box. You want to use unoptimized anchors for your author bios. Google has really become tougher on guest posts. If the site is one that will allow you to put your link within the body of the content, then you want to make sure you use a keyword rich anchor.

Resource Pages

Resource pages of high quality with either allow the use f branded anchors or simply the title of the resource. If you are trying to link the course of content on your site, then you want to use the title of your page. As an example, if you were reading an article that was placed on a page of “SEO Resources”, then you would want to use anchor text like “The Official Anchor Text Guide”. This would be considered a partial match anchor text.

PBNs (Private Blog Networks)

Private Blog Networks are not something that many people deal with anymore. In the event that you decide to, you want to use both partial match and exact anchors. You have invested your hard earned money to purchase a domain that is expired and you should therefore get the most out of it.

301 Redirects

If you are still in the beginning stages, you may want to hold off on using 301 redirects. These are basically a way to steal Google rankings. They can allow you to make a huge transformation from a new website that is weak, to one of great authority overnight. If you are unsure what a 301 redirect is, it is a redirect of a website that is permanent. When using a 301 redirect, the vast majority of the authority is sent over to the new domain. So, you are probably wondering why this is relevant. That is because using a 301 will transfer all of the anchor text from the domain that was redirected. So, if the domain that is redirected has an anchor profile that is spammy, it will certainly transfer right over to your new website.

There are a few ways that you can avoid this happening. You want to ensure that the new website has a fair amount of anchor text that is unoptimized before you use the 301 redirect. You also want to take the time to build anchors that are unoptimized to the domain in the event the anchors are too much. Combining both is a great way to keep your site safe and free of penalties.

Foundational Links

These type of links are meant to essentially dilute your anchor text profile and increase the trust of your site. You do not want to use any keyword-rich anchors for these types of links:

The only type of anchor text that you ever want to use on foundational links are branded, generic, or naked links.

Tier Two and Three Anchor Text

While it can be complicated enough to figure out which anchor text you should use on the first tier, the percentages for tiers two and three are not as strict.
Before we move on, you should understand that the “tiered” links are:

  • Tier 1 – The backlinks hit your website directly
  • Tier 2 – Your tier one is directly hit by the backlinks
  • Tier 3 – The backlinks hit tier 2 directly
Due to the fact that these links are not going to hit your site directly, you can be a bit more aggressive. However, try not to go overboard.
Tier Two Percentages:
  • Naked links: 40%
  • Generic links: 30%
  • LSI and partial match links: 25%
  • Exact match links: 5%
As we talked about in tier one, in tier two you want to use keyword based anchors with your strongest links and save the more foundational ones for adding diversity.
Some people decide not to build a tier three. However if you do, you can go pretty crazy with your anchor text.
Tier three percentages:
  • Naked links: 10%
  • Generic links: 10%
  • LSI and Partial match links: 50%
  • Exact match links: 30%

EMDs and PMDs

Firstly, it is important to understand what these two terms actually mean and then we will cover why you should avoid them.
EMD (exact match domain): this is a domain that matches your target keyword exactly.
PMD (partial match domain): this is a domain that has part of a keyword and uses filler words as well.

If you are a beginner, you want to avoid both of these types of domains. EMDs can open you up to penalties for over-optimization. While PMDs do not tend to be as dangerous, they could also result in a penalty if done by a beginner.

If You Have Been Hit With a Penalty

If you got hit by a penalty at the hands of the algorithm, do not feel defeated. It is still possible to gain your rankings back if the problem lies with your anchor text. Google Panda and Penguin both work together in seeking out website data. While both algorithms analyze data very differently, they pool their collected data together and that makes it easier for them to pinpoint content that has to much spam. Fortunately, it can be very easy to fix issues with your anchor text.

Keyword Density

Usually keyword density is the main culprit. It matters greatly believe it or not. If you use the same keyword repeatedly, you are throwing up red flags and setting yourself up for a penalty. If your article is in the range of 600 words, you want to keep your density in the area of 1% or even less. It is possible to go up to 3% if you wish, but it is not recommended if you want to increase your rankings on the long term.

While all of this information may seem like a lot to take in, it is truly beneficial to your site and rankings in the grand scheme of things. As we mentioned, it is going to be about trial and error and what works best for your site when it comes to percentages and keywords.

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