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% 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.

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  1. scott says

    Good stuff as always!!

    Here is a good question. Those directory links, where do you point them? Only at the home page or at deeper pages? Not everyone wants to only rank their home page for any given key word.


    • says

      Thanks for commenting Scott! I link to the homepage and internal pages when possible since many of the directories don’t typically allow it.

      – Gotch

      • says

        Hi Nathan,

        I Really Enjoying Your Blog Post , Your Blog Post are Really Very Helpful For Me.

        But I Have a Question , Sorry For off Topic.

        Actually I Have a Website and The Website Was Ranking on Their Keywords 2nd and 3rd Page of Google Before One Month.

        Now The Website Lost Ranking and It Showing on 17th Page of Google.Then I Redirect That Domain to Another Domain by 301 Redirect. After Redirecting Some of Keywords Get Their Ranking Back.

        Now My Question is , Making New Backlinks to My Old Domain Can Increase Searching Ranking of My New Redirected Domain OR Should I Make New Links to My New Redirected Domain.

        I Hope You Will Give Me Right Answer. I am Waiting For Your Important Reply.

        • says

          Hi Verma, sorry to hear about your loss in rankings and thanks for the comment. It really depends if you were penalized for anchor text over-optimization or if you were hit by Panda. I need more details to be able to help you out my friend. Thanks!

        • says

          Hi Verma, sorry to hear about your loss in rankings and thanks for the comment. It really depends if you were penalized for anchor text over-optimization or if you were hit by Panda. I need more details to be able to help you out my friend. Thanks!

  2. says

    Wow! Wonderful. Finally I got the piece I have been looking since penguin update out. I always concerned about anchor texts, for my website that has been slapped by Google on updates.
    Now I think I can do better with info you provided.

    Thanks Gotch,

  3. says

    I was really confuse about this. Thank you for making it clear. But only 5% exact match? Is it not little bit short? Waiting for your answer. I want to discuss about few matter’s about my site. Would you like to give me your skype or personal mail that I can contact with you.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment! Anywhere around 5% is usually all it takes as long as they placed on the right properties. Keep in mind, you’re still using variations of your keyword as well. So in reality, you’re using your keyword about 15% of the time.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment John. Honestly, I don’t really think about my percentages when linking to my homepage or internal pages because I just do whatever it takes to rank. And also, I only target 1-3 keywords per page on my website. So, my percentages are always super diversified (even though that’s not the intention). I use the 1-3 keyword method because it makes my pages super targeted and easier to rank. If you’re only targeting your homepage with keywords, then you’ll probably want to use at least a 50/50 split.

      – Gotch

  4. Craig says

    Great post I will be using this as a reference to avoid bad anchor diversification.

    Nathan this post got me a bit concerned actually, I create small product review type sites in conjunction with some bigger sites just to earn a little more cash.

    The competition for some of these small review sites is so low I have been ranking them simply using one exact match anchor from a pr1 directory. Simply to give it a little nudge and index it faster.

    However, paid directories seem risky, the link leaves the page within a few days and becomes a useless pr 0 exact anchor directory link that I now have no control over. One of these sites dive bombed and I have no control too see if its the directory to blame or not.

    For future references, for a site I only need one pr 1 exact match anchor to rank, what type of link would you build for that first and only link? And would you make it an exact match anchor or naked url? I feel these sites arent worth using a PR blog link as a simple 2$ directory has been working. Which is why I asked.

    Anyway thanks for article and hopefully response :)

    • says


      Thanks for the comment. I would never use an exact match anchor for any directory link because Google watches them like a hawk because they were heavily spammed in the past. But, it’s pretty unlikely that your website tanked because of one exact match anchor.

      If I could choose one link to rank a site, I go with a high PR / high domain authority link and I would use an exact match anchor.

      Side note: paid directories are actually great for sending trust to your website as long as you use a branded anchor.

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

      – Gotch

      • Jack says

        I have used a similar strategy of a paid directory, it indexes sites fast and you get the pr3 recent boost before the directory drops you off their front page into archives.

        I actually checked a site I used one on and noticed something disturbing.

        Since directories have search boxes, my site listing was coming up on various random searches and I was recieving a link from every results page I was found on.

        In this case the one directory link was giving me 20 referring pages from the same anchor.

        My site was an EMD so now I noticed I have 88% of my anchors are the exact match anchor. The site is small and ranking fine but I fear its sustainability now.

        Just wondering if this is bad Nathan? and if these count as real backlinks since there coming from the same listing via search pages.

        • says

          Hi Jack, thanks for the comment. Yeah this problem tends to happen with directories. All you need to do is build more links to dilute the anchors, and you’ll be in the clear. EMD’s can be tricky, so make sure you’re tracking the anchor text of every single link you build.

          * EMD tip: whenever I work with EMDs, the first thing I do is build a ton of generic anchors and naked links before using any optimized anchors. That’s what I did in my authority site project because I’m using an EMD for it.

          – Gotch

      • Craig says

        Hey Nathan thanks for the help.

        I have sent a PR link to a new test site to see if the results will be similar as the directory were. So far they are not, at least in terms of ranking speed, but I will wait and see.

        If in the future in conjunction to a PR link I want to also send a paid directory link to an EMD site to get the fast rankings/trust as I did before, Instead of an Exact anchor and having to be in damage control after, what anchor can I use to get the same effect without the risks?

        Since branded isnt possible for an EMD should I go URL or some other?


        • says

          Hi Craig,

          Was the PR link contextual, if so, is the article indexed? As far as which anchor to use, the best is always exact match, but it’s dangerous when using directories. Personally, I stick to branded anchors for directories. If it’s an EMD, you’ll probably be fine using the title (your brand). Just make sure you send some other unoptimized, generic anchors to your website just to be safe.

          – Gotch

  5. says

    Hi Nathan thanks for sharing, I wonder if you can please help me out with one or two queries as this is exactly what I have been researching this morning?

    For inner pages on a website, what kind of anchor text do you use and is it safe to use your brand name for inner pages?

    Im still trying to repair our link profile post penguin and so far have got the link anchor text down to 29% by diluting it and building more brand name/author/naked url links etc, what would you do to deduce that?

    • says


      thanks for the comment! I sent you an email regarding the queries.

      Building branded links to inner pages is totally fine and I actually encourage it. I do it all the time to dilute anchor text.

      You’re getting super close to getting it down where it needs to be. One trick to get it down quickly is to find a quality website in your niche and get a sitewide link with your brand as the anchor.

      If this is hard to obtain, I would use a high-quality press release service – reason being that you can use about three branded anchors in the article and it will be distributed to tons of websites. This is a more expensive option, but it’s definitely the best.

      If you’re looking for a more affordable option, I would go with dofollow blog comments, social bookmarks, and directory links. All using naked/URL, branded, and generic links. Let me know if you need any of these types of services.

      – Gotch

      • Geoff McCabe says

        Thanks for the useful article and response to this question, but it doesn’t quite answer for me one very important question. What anchor text and in what quanitities can be used for inner pages? Should you stick with mostly “brand” anchor text even for inner pages, or is it okay to have a majority of keyword anchor texts for inner pages? For example, if your website is and you have an inner page “” then we may expect that 50-90% of the anchor texts going to that inner page would be “furry mouse” and not “”. Obviously the point is to avoid Penguin penalties for over-optimized anchor text. I have looked all over the internet for an answer to this question, but haven’t found any advice at all about this. Thanks for your input on this.

        • says

          Hi Geoff, the percentages are the same regardless of whether it’s your homepage or an inner page. Exact match anchors and keyword variations should always be low, and branded, URL, and generic anchors should be high no matter what page you’re building links to. If you take this approach, you’ll not only be safe from penalties, but you’ll also give more weight to your exact match anchor text.

          Let me know if you have any more questions or clarifications. Thanks!

          – Gotch

          • Geoff McCabe says

            This doesn’t make sense to me because it doesn’t match with organic linking habits. For example, my website is something like which is a yoga center. I don’t think anyone has ever brand linked to my inner pages about yoga retreats or yoga teacher training. They brand-link the index page, or they use an anchor text such as “yoga retreats” or “yoga retreats at Super Resort” when linking to an inner page of mine such as “” about those subjects. With Penguin, we are told to keep money keyword anchor text to 5% or so. If that was true for inner pages, then nearly every website would get penguin-penalized for the organic links that tend to use keywords as anchor text. I ask this because I have a manual penguin penalty, directed at keywords such as “yoga” and “retreats” which aren’t in my brand name. So, does Google expect me to go and remove/disavow all the good links I have to my inner pages when they are 100% natural organic links, in order to get the Penguin penalty lifted?

          • says

            Pounding the same page with countless exact match anchors is way more unnatural than building branded, generic, and naked link anchors. Natural “organic link habits” don’t have patterns to their anchor text. Penguin CAN and DOES target inner pages for over-optimized anchor text that’s why the percentages stay true no matter what page you’re building links to.

            Do you have a manual penalty or an algorithmic Penguin penalty? Those are two entirely different things.

            Yes, that’s the route GOOGLE wants you to take. Personally, it’s a dead end street. If you’ve been hit with a penalty, you’re always going to have that history and ranking that site is always going to be difficult.

            Unless you’re really in love with this site, your time is better off building a completely new BRANDED website and focusing on the right linking and anchor text strategies right off the bat (so you don’t get penalized).

            Let me know if you have more questions Geoff and thanks for the comment!

            – Gotch

          • says

            Hi Nathan,

            I though you said in another article always use your Exact Match anchor text for internal linking as over-optimisation only counts for external links?

            What anchor text’s do I use to link page 1 in silo 1 to page 2, to page 3, to page 4 to homepage?


          • says

            Hi Fisher, I did say that and it’s still true, but its risk mitigation. It’s not a bad idea to diversify internal anchors. You just don’t need to track them like you would your external links.

  6. Jeremy says

    Hi Nathan,

    Very helpful article, thanks for writing it.
    The last commenters question was the question I wanted
    to ask.

    Part 2 of that question, when linking to an inner page
    using the url as the anchor,

    do you include the filename as well as part of the
    anchor text


  7. Jeremy says

    Hi Nathan,

    Many people add content to article directories, web 2.0 sites,
    and create youtube videos.

    Are there anchor text rules when trying to rank these 3 types of web properties.

    This is something I’m going to start working on more.


  8. Mike says

    Great post, this is now my go to reference for anchor text diversification ratios.

    Nathan, this article made me remember something I was uncertain of and you seem like a perfect person to ask.

    I have a page which the primary keyword is like “best blank for blank”, that term gets say 800 searches per month.

    Too my surprise, I started getting a lot more sales recently and noticed that the same page is also ranking for the keyword “blank for blank” which gets a whopping 12,000 searches.

    Atm its in spot 6# for that keyword.

    Just wondering if building anchor texts of “blank for blank” would actually influence my “best blank for blank” page to rank higher in the SERPS when someone types in “blank for blank”?

    Its also to my understanding, a partial anchor, because the “best” is missing, and therefore safer…I think?

    Anyway jw if the words of anchor text from backlinks influence the same words if they are entered into search queries from users? If that makes sense.

    • says

      Hi Mike, thanks for the comment! Before I answer your questions, just want you to know that I “blanked” out your keywords. Don’t ever reveal your money niche on any Internet marketing site or forum because there are a lot of trolls that will try to piggy back off your success.

      Building exact match anchors for “blank for blank” would influence the ranking of the longer tail version. In this instance, I usually try to dominate the long tail and then naturally the more challenging keyword ends up ranking. Just make sure your title tag is something like “Best Blank for Blank” – and you’ll end up ranking for both without a problem.

      Make sure you focus on diversifying the anchors though. Don’t use a ton of EM anchors. Throw in a lot of variations: “womens blank for blank”, “best womens blank for blank”, etc.

      I’m actually conducting two case studies to test if we even need to use exact match anchors anymore to rank. I’m seeing a lot of results with using variations only, so I’ll keep you posted on that.

  9. pravash says

    that’s a great post ! i loved the idea how you distributed the anchor texts based on the platforms and priority :)

  10. says

    What do you do if your exact match anchor text is too high? My company’s website is at about 7% according to, with 111 links like that. There are even more keyword variations. What do you suggest that I do?

    • says

      Hi Garit, thanks for the comment. 7% isn’t too bad, but to be safe, you should definitely try to get it well below 5%. You can either dilute your anchors with variations of the primary keyword or just build branded links (which is the safest option). I took at look at your link profile and your exact match anchors are outweighing your branded anchors, and that’s really dangerous / unnatural. About half of your links should be using some sort of variation of your brand / URL.

      Easiest way to decrease your EM anchor percentages is to start submitting your site to traditional directories, business directories, and send out a press release with branded and generic anchored links ONLY.

      Let me know if you need any clarifications and thanks again for the comment!

      – Gotch

  11. mike says

    Awesome guide Nathan, thanks so much for putting everything all in one place :)

    I wanted to ask a question about keyword anchors for web 2.0’s and yahoo answers. I currently create most of my pages on blogger, yahoo answers and and then I rank those. I was wondering, since I am not promoting a brand, what should I use in it’s place for my 40% of branding anchor text? Also, what is a good number of branding variations to use in a campaign?

    • says

      Mike, thanks for the comment!

      In this instance, you can just go with naked links (30-40% +) and a ton of generic anchor text like “see my WordPress site” or “go to my blogger blog” etc.

    • says

      I don’t know exactly what you want to know about posting on forums, but here’s a couple tips: never use commercial anchor text in your forum signatures or profile links. Only use branded or naked URLs. If you’re looking to generate traffic from forums, you have to contribute, provide value to the community, and establish yourself as an authority. There’s no way around this. Forums links are good for diversification, but will never rank you for any keywords.

      • says

        okey thanks that’s what i wanted to ask so the market that i am working on is not that that competitive there are blogs that get around 50k to 100k unique visitors daily just by blasting exact match anchor text in related forum, and i wanted to take a different approach for my blog using forum to create naked and brand varition and also random anchor texts and use partial match on guest blogs on other forums
        do you think that link from forurms are still safe or not ?

        • says

          Depends on what you’re looking to do. If you’re looking for short term rankings, then there are way better links than forums links for getting a site to rank quickly. As far as a long-term approach, solely using forum links is not a good strategy.

  12. Faisal imran says

    Hi gotch!!
    I like your blog posts. i visit your blog today by searching in google about backlink building..
    now i am reading all your blog posts.

    Give me the answer of question please!!!

    what is the correct way to build link on web 2.0 ??
    if i build link on “” blogs. (DA: 93 = good)
    so what if a Blog has Low PA and low alexa, and no pr but most relevant
    so what to do ?? should i make backlink from such blog or Panda will kick on ass ??

      • Faisal imran says

        thanks for Reply..
        another question ??
        how much backlinks we can make on single post (for web 2.0 / article directories).

        and how much backlinks are enough per day ??

          • Haris says

            Dear sir,
            If i built 3 backlinks per day its mean there is 90 backlinks per month.Is it ranked my website on the specific low competition of search Volume 1000-1500.?
            Thank you

          • says

            Haris, it’s hard for me to say man. There are a lot of factors other than the quantity of your link building. Are the links high-quality? Are they relevant? Are they contextual? What type of anchor text distribution have you used?

  13. Kai says

    Hi Gotch,

    this is finally a very clear instruction about handling the anchortext. Great! When you do the backlinking, do you use multiple tiers (e.g. for the web2.0s). And if you use a 2nd or even 3rd tier, which kind of anchortext do you use therefor?

  14. Phillip Dumont says

    What if the keyword your targeting is for example toaster review and your domain is a partial emd

    Do you run the risk of being penalized for keyword anchor over optimization, and having your ranking for toaster review removed by google, if you create many naked backlinks such as or or just toasterreviewed simply because both the naked url and your brand names contains your targeted keyword.

    • says

      Hi Phillip, thanks for the comment. EMDs and partial match domains are tricky and you can get penalized for over-optimization very easily. The best way to combat this problem is you’re using a PMD, is build a ton of generic anchors. In my experience, you’ll be pretty safe with naked links as well.

    • Geoff McCabe says

      Phillip, in my experience you have to be very careful using EMD anchor text. For example, I have a website that’s something like I created too many exact match anchor text links such as “North California Surfing”. They are legitimate links from good, relevant sites, and perhaps only 20 of them, but my site has an algorithmic penalty for that search term “north california surfing”, because probably 70-80% of my total links had this anchor text. So, I have gone back and changed most of them to be raw URL links, and am waiting now around 2 months to see if the penalty disappears. So far it hasn’t. Also, I have another website with a manual penalty that has a similar issue. It’s something like Years ago I created too many anchor texts links such as “yoga retreats” and “yoga teacher training”. We have removed or changed most of the bad links, but have been rejected twice for reconsideration. So that means, Google has so far given us 6 specific examples of the links to our site that it doesn’t like. In all 6 cases, the example links were ones such as “yoga retreats” or “yoga teacher training” that didn’t contain our brand. We also have many links with anchor texts such as “sooper yoga retreats”, “sooper yoga resort”, “sooper yoga teacher training” and these “mixed brand” links have never been used by Google as an example of a bad link to us. So, I feel that Google is much more flexible with the branded links. Also, I should mention that none of their examples have ever been deep links such as to our pages like, even though we have many anchor text links with “yoga retreats” as deep links. All six examples were to our index page.

  15. Faisal imran says

    Hi Gotch,

    I did not understand that point

    (High-Quality: High PR Links: exact match, keyword variations)

    what you mean high pr link.

    from article directories, guest posting, wikis ??
    we can get High pr links from these Plat forms ????

    • says

      He means private blog networks
      the point is that you’ll place the exact match in you most valuable links

      and also i have a question for you Gotch
      please do tell me if you think that this is a good idea and won’t get me penalized
      i will try to rank for a keyword in my own language for blogger templates
      and i will place a link in the footer with my brand name

  16. says

    Useful info. Fortunate me I found your web site by accident, and I am shocked why this coincidence did not happened
    in advance! I bookmarked it.

  17. says

    Very good tips but from long time i confuse about LSI keywords, i understand that i should not use the same keyword many times on my website and i actually use different keywords but what should i do if the text was look like keyword and if i change it, that will destroy the article?

  18. Haris says

    Dear sir,
    I write 3 articles on web 2.0 websites.And i used this type of ancher diversity
    small dog cage is my exact keyword
    I used small dogs cage point to my homepage and small doggy cage to authority website such as wikipedia.In the same way i used small dog cage point to subpage of my website and another link of ancher text small dog crate to amazon
    In short i didn’t used exact match keyword but i used related words. But my exact match keyword is small dog cage.Is it good anchor tect diversity?
    Reply as soon as possible
    Thank you

    *** I removed your keywords to protect your niche. I replaced them with sample keywords so other people can still learn from your comment

    • says

      Haris, your anchor diversity is good. Just make sure you aren’t targeting two pages on your site for the same keyword and also make sure you throw in generic and branded anchor text.

      • Haris says

        I don’t understand what do you want to say in these lines”also know you are throw in generic and brand name ancher text
        Thank you

          • Haris says

            Dear sir,
            Thanks for this valuable information.
            But there is one request with you that you give us the excel sheet which contain links and search terms,a great work.Kindly also make a 30 days schedule in which every day you tell what we have to do..where to post with some suggestion and tips so that all the readers used excel more favourable.Thiscan be possible in ebook.Please sir this is a request to you
            Reply as soon as possible
            Thank you

  19. says

    Hi Nathan

    Excellent article and I can confirm that the keyword anchor text percentages you mention are about right based on my experience with our customers.

  20. says

    Hi Gotch! Just finishing my first backlink audit and wasn’t sure about disavowing two sites that have dozens of backlinks to us:

    1) a legit or trusted site? It looks like a Chinese search engine and we have about 50 links pointing back from it. Moz gives it a Domain Authority around 55 but it looks spammy

    2) Is worth disavowing? Our niche is essential oils and we have dozens of backlinks from different pages pointing back to us from all sorts of foreign language pages. So on the one hand, the relevancy seems good, but on the other hand the site looks old, has low Moz domain authority (22) and the foreign language aspect seems like a negative.

    • says

      Hi Garit, thanks for the comment.

      1) That’s a tough one and it will probably be hard to get those links actually removed. I doubt it’s hurting you unless there are exact match anchors.

      2) Personally, I think disavowing is a waste of time. If your site is penalized, then you’re always going to have that baggage on the site and it will still be hard to rank. It’s easier to rank a brand new website than it is to recover a penalized domain.

  21. says

    This is of great help. I have been slapped with the Penguin twice even after i diluted my anchor text. But now I have a strategy to look forward to without fear. Thanks for the great info.

  22. says

    Hey Nathan whats up! I was wondering I’m working on a few inner pages right now and was wondering , my brand percent is the highest at 30% right now at the moment and main keyword is 12% and generics are still a small percent. How can i dilute that main keyword some more, Like what kinds of platforms can i build generics with. Are do follow blog comments safe to point at money site or what would you recommend thank you!!

  23. says

    It is refeshing to find someone who is not afraid of the much maligned web directory links. I own a couple dozen directories and am so sick of link removal requests that i considered shutting some of them down. It has been my impression as well that the directories themselves that are the problem, but the anchor texts (done mostly pre-penguin) that are to blame.

    • says

      Steve, thanks for the comment. I love directories :) – perfect for building branded anchor text. Anchor text is almost ALWAYS the problem, not the links. You’re on point with that.

      – Gotch

  24. Max says

    Hey Nathan! thanks for the awesome post! I am having problems pillowing my site, I have a day job and really dont have time to learn GSA or similar tools. Getting someone to do it can be expensive in the longrun. All I can think of now is using just web 2.0 accounts only for diversifying my anchor. Is it ok to just use web 2.0 ? or will it be allot better if I also build tier 2 and tier 3 ? Can you recommend me the best option for diversity ? Thanks :)

    • says

      Hi Max, thank you for the comment. In all honesty, pretty much anything works for pillowing because it’s very unlikely that you would get penalized for using unoptimized anchor text. I typically use web 2.0s, article directories, social bookmarks, web directories, blog comments, and press releases to dilute anchor text. Like I said, pretty much anything lol

      Note: I would avoid using GSA on tier one unless you’re trying to churn and burn, which isn’t really working anymore with GSA.

  25. says

    Hi Nathan I like your post here, its a great job ur doing helping ppl out. I highly recommend to anyone here to follow ur advise and strategy. I was wondering and I know your very busy here!!! Would it be possible to get some advice from you? I have been doing seo for around 5+ years and im always looking for like minded people to share ideas will it be possible for you to perhaps email me and have a skype chat?

  26. Dimitris says

    Hi Nathan

    thanks one more time for value information about anchor link building,i would like to ask you when check my %anchor into the tool as ahref,which % anchor have i look?The anchor % from referring domains or anchor for referring pages?

    If i look the %anchor for referring pages is bigger percent as referring domains because i see that i take a couple of links for 1 website tha grow the anchor% from referring pages


  27. Ovidiu says

    Hello Gotch.

    Please tell me what “Brand Name Anchors” is and give me some examples of “Brand Name Anchors”

    Thank you very much!

  28. Niz says

    Thank you Nathan, you are a legend.

    even SEO gurus wont put up all of these amount of information for free. they would rather sell it as WSO on warrior.

    I have some questions, I hope you wont mind to answer.
    do you link out to authority sites or relevant sites from each blog post?
    is it mandatory to link out from each post ?

    Do you offer online consultation? if you do, how can we contact you?

    • says

      Niz, thank you for the kind words and the comment :)

      If you’re trying to rank a page, then linking out is a good idea because it makes your blog post appear to be a resource. If you’re talking about in guest posts or with private blog network posts, it’s also good because it reduces footprints and also makes the linking article appear to be resources.

      You can use my contact page:


      – Gotch

    • says

      Damien, thanks for the comment and good question. Back in day, it would have been a waste, but thanks to co-occurence, Google can now give credit / understand a link without you needing to use a keyword-rich anchor. That’s why it is critical that the content surrounding your anchor is highly relevant.

  29. Jays says

    I’ve got a tricky question. If I use competition’s name or/and domain name as anchor text, will I be penalized as soon as big G finds such link ?

      • Jays says

        I’m all the time afraid that’s a real gray zone, as checking if anchor is a domain name and corresponds to href value is a very simple task.
        From the other hand, G search engine seems to cut off the TLD, and just consider the raw domain name in SERPs.
        If I had enough time to give a real shot on this ….

  30. says

    Hi Nathan

    Just i have finished Anchor text Bible and already feel stronger,thank you.

    I would like to ask you 3 questions…a) when distribute my anchor in a local market,specific in a Greek Local Market for a new site(eg this site have greek content),could i use branded and naked links from properties you recommended or i have to use only greek properties?(greek directories,Greek blogs etc)

    b)As phrase and exact anchor i use Greek properties with Greek content (pbns,web2.0)
    For Tier 2 links(link to tier1 greek content) can i use English content?

    c)Could i buy expired com domains and use them with Greek content as Tier 1 in local market?


    • says

      Dimitris, that makes me really happy to hear!

      a) it definitely ideal to have links from Greek properties with the .gr extensions, but the .com, .net, etc. extensions will help as well. You should focus your efforts on getting .gr links if you’re trying to rank for cities within Greece.
      b) Once again, Greek would be best, but English will work as well. Google can understand both
      c) You SHOULD do this

      – Gotch

  31. Ovidiu says

    Hello Gotch.
    Thank you for this article.

    You said that you’re using Web Directories and Article Directories for link building.
    Are these Web Directories and Article Directories good for link building? Really?

    I will start to use them, but tell me some suggestions, PLEASE. :D


  32. says

    Excellent article! I did not pay much attention to keyword diversification after the Penguin update, that may be the reason some of my sites are messed up. Well, I will try to implement the concept presented throughout your post. Thanks for opening my eyes on that.

  33. Dan says

    Much appreciated for your excellent guide on the strategy that you use for diversifying anchors when building links.
    Thanks Nathan, sincerely mean it.

    Could I please ask though:

    What is the treatment of links made with no textual content, just with an image, for example most of the directories in my niche have link banners made up of simply an image wrapped in a link to your site?

    To make myself clear, is this guide 50% brand – 20% url – 20% generic – 5% LSI – 5% EMA using percentages of just the links which have textual anchors? Is it independent of image links?

    The problem I am facing is that different SEO programmes use different methods to work out % shares of anchors in backlinks, some don’t count the image links, whereas others such as ahrefs include image links with no text, listing something like .

    I am trying to help my client’s site to have a more natural link profile since we got hit hard by penguin back in October 2013. Two different SEOs and they still haven’t addressed the issue of getting the EMA down to a low level.

    So using spyglass software I’m getting a list of all the site’s links, then trying to work out how many generic or naked urls will be needed to bring EMA % share of anchors down. I’m getting stuck on whether to have the no text/ image links in my analysis.

    I suppose the answer lies in how Google would treat the image links. Whether it would include this links when calculating the percentage of EMA% anchors or would it just solely look at all the non-empty text based anchors?

    Again, I appreciate your assistance, I haven’t found a good post such as yours anywhere, thanks and god bless.

    • says

      Dan, thanks for the comment!

      Google uses the ALT tag for the anchor text in images. Images are included within those percentages. If you have over-optimized image anchor text, then just change them to branded or delete them all together.

      Hope that makes sense,

      – Gotch

      • Dan says

        Thanks Nathan, so this naturally leads me to ask: how would empty Alt tags be treated in the construction of models that monitor the distribution of links among the categories BRAND / URL / GENERIC / LSI / EMA ?

  34. Dan says

    I’m sorry Nathan, I didn’t mean to put any link in my first comment/question. I was trying to say how ahrefs list images when they list the anchor phrases. I’m sorry for causing you any trouble for that, I just saw my comment, and the whole of the bottom part was a link, as I was trying to say *code*a* no text *end code*.

    Sorry once again, as you can probably tell I don’t comment much on sites, hence made a beginner mistake!



  35. Sean says

    Hi Nathan, I have a question about branded anchor text. What if your brand contains your main keyword? For example, “Best Main Keyword Guide”. So, it’s basically a keyword variation or will Google recognize this as a brand? If not, would you suggest replacing branded anchor text with naked urls and generic anchors?

    • says

      Hi Sean, thanks for the comment! What you’re saying would be considered a partial match domain/brand and so you would need to be careful. With any exact or partial match domain, you need to alter the percentages and throw in more generic and naked link anchor text

  36. Sandeep says

    Hey, i am a regular reader and learn lots of seo stuff through your blog. Can you also help us to know how much anchor text percentage can we use on churn and burn campaign to get more effective results.


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