SEO Case Study #3: Rank a Site With One Exact Match Anchor?

The question is: is it possible to rank a website in a competitive niche with only one exact match anchor?

No matter what site or competition level I’m working in, I always keep my exact match anchors below 5%. But I wanted to see if I could rank a site without ever repeating a single keyword-based anchor text.

For Example:
If my website is about puppy toys, then I would link back to my site with “puppy toys” as the anchor text (one time), and nothing but variations such as “dog toys”, “best puppy toys”, and “doggy toys”.

And just to take things up another notch, I decided to conduct this experiment in a very competitive niche.

  • Niche: Pills (Can’t reveal what type or it could compromise things)
  • URL: an exact match .com – no idea how / why this was available!

Although I have an exact match of a very valuable keyword, I’m actually not targeting it quite yet. Instead, I’m going after a product within the niche.

Target Keyword(s):
Main Keyword (product name): 12,100 searches per month
Variations of Main Keyword: 8100, 1900, 1900

There’s obviously a ton of other variations of my main keyword, but I decided to target these four, which equates to around 24,000 searches per month.

Nitty Gritty Details of the Site

I’m extremely fortunate to have found this keyword because it’s the perfect site for emphasizing a problem and offering a solid solution. When the solution is easy, it makes sales easier. So, for this reason, I created content that is not only helpful, but will (almost) solve their problems. Obviously, to completely solve their “problem”, they will need to purchase the product I’m promoting.

Details About the Content:

I haven’t physically written a single article for this site. I have outsourced everything. Each article has costs me around $37 because I want quality content on the site.

  • Homepage: the homepage has a static 1,000-word article broadly talking about the problem (not the product)
  • Review: the product review is about 900 words. It’s a “first person” experience with a relatable story.
  • “Is it Safe” page: this is another page that specifically discusses the safety of the product. More of these will be added to decrease skepticism among the potential buyers. I also added a “Does Have Side Effects?” page.
  • (x6) blog posts: all five of these posts are between 500-600 words. Each article offers advice on the problem as whole, but always incorporates the target product as a solution without being overbearing.

Some Other On-Site Details:

  • I’m using a review theme from My Theme Shop
  • I have a custom logo
  • I have contact, affiliate disclaimer, privacy policy, and terms of service pages

Link Building

Now this is the fun part, but I think you’re going to be really surprised how little it took to actually rank this page.

Here’s what I used to get to the current position:

  • 15 high PR “guest posts”
  • 10 web 2.0s
  • 4 PDFs
  • 20 business listings
  • 1 press release distribution
  • 1 article from

Here are the metrics for the PR links:
PR 4, PA 37, DA 24, TF 26
PR 4, PA 29, DA 15, TF 19
PR 4, PA 19, DA 6, TF 6 (Bad metrics, but highly relevant)
PR 3, PA 31, DA 19, TF 24
PR 3, PA 29, DA 16, TF 17
PR 3, PA 28, DA 14, TF 12
PR 2, PA 35, DA 24, TF 32
PR 2, PA 30, DA 17, TF 16
PR 2, PA 29, DA 18, TF 6 (Bad TF, but highly relevant)
PR 2, PA 28, DA 14, TF 19
PR 2, PA 23, DA 10, TF 21
PR 1, PA 30, DA 17, TF 3 (Bad TF, but highly relevant)
PR 1, PA 21, DA 14, TF 1 (Bad TF, but highly relevant)

PR = PageRank from Google
PA = Page Authority from Moz
DA = Domain Authority from Moz
TF = Trust Flow from Majestic SEO

Every single link used 100% manually written 400 + word articles.

Anchor Text

Okay, so how did I diversify my anchor text with such a small amount of links?

Here’s what I did:

(x10) or almost 50% of the links have variations of the main keyword as the anchor. I literally only used the exact match keyword one time.

All the others have slight variations such as:

  • adding a dash
  • using “pill” instead of “pills”
  • using “try ___”
  • “does ___ work”
  • “___ like __”
  • “where to buy __”

The point is, is that I included a variation of the main keyword in nearly 50% of the anchors. How can I get away with this?

Because I have only used one exact match anchor!

The other 50% or so of my anchors are generic (click here, go here, read this review, etc) and naked links: Although it is about a 50/50 split, I will be diluting the keyword based anchors even more.

In the next few months, it will be more like a 90% (safe anchors) / 10% or less (keyword based anchors). This is a safety measure more than anything.

The truth is, I have been testing this technique on several of my websites and client’s websites over the past couple months and it’s producing insane results.

Not only does it keep your website safe from penalties, but you’re also increasing the amount of keywords that you’re able to rank for. So instead of only ranking for my product name, I’m ranking for almost every variation you can think of.

And the coolest part about never repeating keyword-based anchors, is that when your main keyword is “stuck” around the #2-#5 spots, you can hit it with another exact match anchor and it should shoot it to the top.

Now that you know exactly what I did with this site, what kind of results has 22 links and no repeating anchor text actually gotten me?

How Much Did This Cost?

This started out as a low-cost project because I was testing the water more than anything. But once I saw that it had huge potential, I started investing more money into it. The totals below are for everything on the site, not just the landing page that’s doing really well.

Here’s where my money went:

  • (x29) manually written 400 word articles for link building = $81.20
  • (x5) Premium articles for the website = $325.20
  • (x20) business submissions = $15
  • (x1) press release distribution = $79
  • Custom Logo = $49

$674.73 revenue
- $549.40 investment

= + $125.33 profit

Although I have spent a decent amount of money on the site, my time investment has been very small. In total, I have probably spent about 8 hours on the site. That includes on-page changes and submitting articles for links. I’m very happy with this project and I will be continually updating this case study with progress.

My goal is to get this website up to a steady $1,000 per month and then be able to sell it off for a nice sum.

To quickly conclude the results of this case study, you don’t need to go crazy with exact match anchors!

Treat every exact match anchor like a precious diamond and only use it when absolutely necessary.

I hope you enjoyed this information and please leave any questions you have below in the comment section, and if you saw even a tiny bit of value in this post, please share it :)

P.S. I’m launching the Anchor Text Bible on July 15th. Go sign up for the priority list before it fills up (only accepting the first 200 people).

Where to enter your email:

Anchor Text Guide for Defeating a Hostile Penguin

It’s time to get the anchor text record straight. If you’re actively building links to your website, then you HAVE to understand how to use anchor text diversification to your advantage.

When people / SEO companies say they are “diversifying” anchor text, they are typically implying that they are keeping the anchors random.

But for me, diversification means SO much more. You see, I don’t just diversify, I strategically use my anchors by distributing them on specific platforms. This may sound confusing, but after this post you’re not only going to understand, but you’re going to be a master of anchor text and start dominating your SEO campaign.

anchor text

Matt Cutts and his webspam team “mad dogging” your anchor text profile

Understand Google Penguin

Before I explain how to link back to your site, you have to understand Google Penguin. It is the only reason why diversifying your anchors even exists or is even necessary. I’m not going to get too deep into this because there is a ton of information already out there on it. But in essence, Google changed its algorithm and called it the “Penguin” update. The purpose of the update was to target over-optimized anchor text and low-quality links, which usually go hand-in-hand.

It’s the Anchor Text, Not Your Links

Many people hit by Penguin or the latest 2.1 update automatically assume that the problem is their backlinks. But in 99.9% of Penguin-hit sites, it always has to do with over-optimized anchors.

Ever year or couple months, Google comes out and says some type of link is “dead” and you shouldn’t use it anymore. But the truth is, I’m still using directory links, I’m still using social bookmarks, I’m still using article directories and I’m still going to continue using guest posts despite the latest propaganda.

Why? Because I understand anchor text.

It’s all about WHERE you place your keyword-rich anchors.

Anchor Text Percentages

There is a general guideline that I follow when distributing my anchors. It looks like this:

50% brand name anchors

A large percentage of my anchors are brand-based because this is what Google is looking for. For this reason, you should consider building a branded website as opposed to an EMD.

For branded anchors, I link back “Gotch SEO”, “visit Gotch SEO”, etc.

20% naked links

Linking back with your URL is one of the most natural types of anchor you can use.


20% generic

Random anchor text like “go here”, “this website”, and “click here” are essential for maintaining a natural anchor profile.

5% keyword variations / LSI keywords

Instead of linking back “cat toys”, I will use “toys for cats”, “these cat toys”, or “check out these cat toys”. A “latent semantic indexing” keyword would be “toys for kitties”.

** Be careful here. You can still be penalized for “cat toys” even with variations. Keep variations around 10% or less and you’ll be safe.

1-5% exact match anchors

Example: I’m targeting “cat toys”, my exact match anchor would be “cat toys”.

Understanding these percentage is critical to your results and how effective your backlinks will be.

BUT, understanding HOW and WHEN to use your exact match anchor text is even more important.

For this reason, I’m going to introduce you to a strategy that I use with every single one of my link building campaigns. It’s called anchor cycling and it will shoot your rankings through the roof.

Anchor Text Placement Strategy (Most Important Step)

Like I mentioned earlier, I am strategic about where I place my anchors. I’m going to try to keep this as simple as possible. Below, is how I distribute my anchors depending on the platform.

Believe it or not, there is a method to madness. It’s actually quite simple, I use natural anchor text on platforms that Google has deemed “spammy” or has “devalued”, and focus my exact match anchors on the most valuable / quality properties. 99% of the exact match anchors I build will be contextual.


High PR Links: exact match, keyword variations
Guest Posts: exact match, keyword variations, brand name


Web 2.0s: keyword variations, brand name, URL variations, generic


I use the “average” links for IP, link, and anchor text diversity. Despite not using keyword-based anchors for these links, I’m still building authority and trust for my website.

Directory Links: brand name, URL variations
Social Bookmarks: brand name, URL variations, generic
Article Directories: brand name, URL variations
PDFs: URL variations
Blog Comments: real or made up name
Forums Signatures: URL variations

Co-citation, Co-Occurrence, or Whatever You Want to Call It

I’m going to let you in on a little secret of mine: even my non-keyword based anchors are strategic.

I strongly believe that co-occurrence or co-citation strongly impact rankings. I’m not really into SEO guru terminology, so I’m going to explain this in layman’s terms.

Whenever I use an non-keyword based anchor, I always try to place the keyword near the anchor. The reason I’m doing this is because I want Google to associate my website with that keyword.

Example: “If you’re looking for cat toys click here.”

No, that’s not my website, but I wanted to hook him up so he can outrank those authority websites.

The point is, Google’s algorithm is smart enough now where it can associate your website with particular keywords without the need to spam exact match anchors (as long as your on-page SEO is solid). No, it’s not perfect because I still need to use exact match to rank well, but it’s becoming less and less necessary.

Your keyword doesn’t always have to be right next to the anchor, but try to get it somewhere near or on the page. Just don’t be a maniac and think you can stuff keywords all around your link and get away with it. Do it naturally.

Last Word on Anchor Text

There are million different strategies you can use with your anchors, but what I showed you works for me every single time no matter the type of industry. You HAVE to keep track of every single link you build and our anchor percentages. If you’re not doing this and you’re doing serious SEO, then you are just being careless and shouldn’t be sad when your site get’s slapped by a little Penguin.

Believe it or not, this post just barely scratched the surface about anchor text. There are still many questions to answer and many strategies to explain. For this reason, I’m launching the Anchor Text Bible – I guarantee, it will be the last guide to anchor text you’ll EVER need.

When you sign up, you’ll be placed on the exclusive priority list for the July 15th launch.

The priority list will be closed once we reach 200 people, so sign up now.