Kyle Marvin | Anchor Text Diversity Tips & Strategies
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Anchor Text Diversity Tips & Strategies

Anchor Text Diversity Tips & Strategies

Anchor text is simply the words that show up in a link. For over 10 years it was common SEO practice to build all anchor texts to your site using the keywords you wished to rank for, but that’s all changed. A lot of webmasters are clamoring for a perfect “formula” for how diverse to keep their backlink anchor text ever since Penguin & Panda. My take on it is to take Google’s word for it when they state their guidelines. Their standards are already set, it is just their algorithm that has begun to “catch up” with their standards.  They have hundreds of engineers who’s whole job is to make their algorithms smarter and act more human to determine which sites most reflect their standards.

Basic Guideline for 2012 & Beyond: Keep it Natural

Any link building whatsoever is essentially against Google’s religion. The links they want to see are genuine citations from the granting site that is supposed to pass on the granting site’s ‘vote’. In other words, the only true white hat link is one that you didn’t build.

But… How do I get links if I can’t build them? The white hat evangelists will tell you purely to create great content and if you build it they will come. Black hatters would just tell you to build as many links as you want just make them trick the algos and appear more natural. “Results hatters” would tell you a soft combination of the two. I’m not going into the politics of link building today, but rather, how your anchor text can affect your link profile.

Basic Types of Anchor Text:

Brand

Any anchor that includes a variant of your brand. This could be purely your brand, your brand with stop words, your brand combined mixed with generic terms, etc.

Some examples of brand anchor text:

  • For more on widgets, check out Acme Company’s website.
  • For more on widgets, check out Acme Company‘s website.
  • For more on widgets, check out Acme Company’s website.

URL

This is essentially when a page’s URL is used in place of anchor text. We’ll also include variants with stop words and generic terms.

Some examples of URL anchor text:

  • Check out http://www.acmecompany.com/ for more information
  • Check out http://www.acmecompany.com/ for more information
  • Check out acmecompany.com for more information

Keyword

I would classify this as when the bulk of text in your anchor text is the primary or secondary keyword you are trying to rank the landing page for. You still need to consider this signal, just don’t overdo it. Also make sure to apply variants.

Some examples of keyword anchor text:

  • Acme sells the best widgetsaround.
  • Acme sells the best widgets around.
  • Acme is a great place to get blue widgets.
  • Acme is a great place to get blue widgets.

Generic

For the longest time in SEO, we were discouraged to use “generic” anchors if we could help it. But when it is all said and done, typically before Panda & Penguin, generally these were the most natural organic links there were, which is why I believe they started giving them more weight.

Some examples of generic anchor text:

  • Click here to visit Acme’s website.
  • Click here to visit Acme’s website.
  • Click here to visit Acme’s website.

The “Perfect” Anchor Text Diversity Formula

There is no perfect formula, at least until Google decides to actually release that portion of their algorithm to the public, so we can only determine what works from experimentation and observation. Keeping in mind that it’s not purely the anchor text that is taken into account, but also the link source, authority of linking site, and more, plenty of experiments have been done to determine a fairly “safe” formula. As always, my word is not gospel, it’s only given for observational purposes and based on my particular experience and knowledge.

Anchor Text Diversity Pie Graph

Anchor Text Tips:

  • Keep it natural
  • Diversify between the types I showed you
  • Don’t request specific anchor text when someone is giving you an unsolicited citation link
  • Don’t make it all about anchors – keep in mind all factors of link building best practices

Written by: Kyle Marvin

Kyle is a digital marketing consultant with 12+ years experience in SEO, social media and paid traffic. He currently resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado with his wife and three kids. Kyle consults small and medium sized businesses with their digital marketing needs and is the Digital Marketing Manager of RapidVisa, Inc. Reach out to Kyle on Twitter.

8 Comments
  • Thanks! This is just what I was looking for. I’m in the process of overhauling my 1 year old WordPress site now that I’ve had time to learn and play with it Panda and Penguin didn’t harm or help me, but I figured I’d read up on all the changes before I dove into the redesign. Would love to see you write something about brand name signals for “no name” sites like mine… Is it worth “wasting” the 70 characters? I did see your post on titles and see your suggested formats… Does that apply to us “little guys” too?

    December 27, 2012 at 3:23 am
  • Well google force the webmaster to use high quality backlinks instead of just pure mass backlinks.

    January 11, 2013 at 8:12 am
  • Kyle, excellent post! I think another thing to consider with anchor text diversity is the niche or industry of the website. For example, the average “brick and mortar” lawyer site will have a different anchor text profile then that of an online retailer.

    April 27, 2013 at 9:41 pm
  • Do nofollow-links count when calculating my anchor text diversity?

    May 19, 2013 at 2:57 pm

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