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.
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.
Examples: www.website.com, website.com, http://www.website.com.
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% or less 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 created the most comprehensive guide on anchor text EVER.
That’s exactly why it earned it’s name, the Anchor Text Bible.