The Epic Guide to Anchor Text

WARNING: this will be the most epic article you’ve EVER read about anchor text. It’s nearly 7,000 words, so make sure you bookmark this ASAP for future reference.

The Last Anchor Text Guide You’ll Ever Need

Anchor text can be scary and confusing at first, but once you understand / master it, you automatically become a million times better at SEO. It’s crazy because it can literally make or break a campaign.

With that being said, I’m going to explain EVERYTHING you’ll ever need to know about how to use anchor text in a hostile post-Penguin world.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a self-proclaimed white hat or a down-and-dirty blackhat, the strategies you’re about to learn straight out work in all scenarios.

Let’s do this.

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

Section I

What is Anchor Text?

It simply the visible and clickable text in a link. For example, you may be reading an article and see something like: “the SEO strategies over at Gotch SEO” – “Gotch SEO” is the anchor.

To create it, you’ll need to memorize a very simple HTML code:
Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 8.36.35 AM

Why Does It Matter?

It will always “matter” as long as backlinks matter. Prior to the Penguin update in 2012, anchor text was one of the easiest ways for Google to understand the relevancy of any given website.

Now in 2014, it is one of the best ways for Google to penalize spam and over-optimization.

Does this mean anchor text is becoming meaningless? Not even in the slightest.

I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that it’s even stronger than it was before (when used the way I’m going to show you).

Pre-Penguin Anchor Text

Before the first Penguin update, you could go absolutely buck wild with your anchor text. You could literally use 100% exact match anchors for all of your backlinks and you would rank.

It was like stealing candy from a baby, and Google obviously had to make a change.

That change was the Penguin update.

Google Penguin 1.0: The Update That Changed It ALL

The first Penguin update in 2012 literally changed the link building game forever.

Penguin targeted any website that was blatantly doing low-quality, artificial, or spammy link building in an effort to “game” the search engine.

How did they determine if a website is building links artificially or using spam to rank?

Simple.

ANCHOR TEXT.

Why, might you ask?

Because a normal website would not have 100% of its backlinks with the anchor text “Pay Day Loans”. And at the time, many people doing SEO were using these crazy high percentages.

In 2014, you really need to understand how Penguin analyzes anchor text and determines whether a site should be penalized or not.

I promise, it’s not complicated, but it is CRITICAL that you understand to keep your site safe.

Here’s exactly how Penguin works:

  • You build a backlink
  • Google indexes the backlink
  • Google places this new backlink into its database for your specific website, also known as your “link profile”
  • Steps 1-3 are repeated over-and-over, and now you have a “link profile” that the algorithm can analyze

Now, this is where the real magic happens:
The algorithm analyzes your link profile and compares it to the on-page factors for your website or target page.

So, if your on-page content is optimized for “PayDay Loans” and 100% of your anchors are about PayDay Loans, then you will get a penalty because it’s very easy for Google’s algorithm to see that you’re:
A) trying to rank for “PayDay Loans”
B) you’re building links artificially

They can dish out penalties to sites that make this mistake simply based on the amount of exact match anchor text + the on-page keywords being used. It’s really that simple.

So, how do you avoid getting penalized?

You need to understand HOW, and WHEN to use your keyword-rich anchors.

You’ll be learning about this in the next sections.

Section II

Different Types of Anchor Text

Before, I get into strategy, it’s critical that you understand all the different types of anchors so that you’ll be able to create a diverse and “natural” link / anchor profile.

In a separate excel file, there will be a nice list of anchor variations for each type.

Branded Anchors

Any anchor that uses your brand in it.

Sentence sample: “Over at GOTCH SEO you can learn search engine optimization.”

Branded anchors are by far the safest as long as your site is not an exact match domain (more on this later). Simply take a look at any big brand and look at the percentages of branded anchors in their link profile.

Here are few examples that you’ll want to follow:

1. Best Buy

Best Buy Anchors

2. Nordstrom

Nordstrom

3. WebMD

web md

Generic Anchors

The most “normal” form of anchor text such as:

  • “click here”
  • “go here”
  • “check this site out”

In a sentence: “Go here if you’re looking for SEO information.” – “Go here” is the generic anchor text.

Naked Link Anchors

Simply linking back to a website with your URL.

Examples:

  • http://www.gotchseo.com/
  • http://www.gotchseo.com
  • www.gotchseo.com/
  • www.gotchseo.com
  • gotchseo.com/
  • gotchseo.com

No Anchor Trick

This is a tricky little strategy I see big brands doing.

Whether purposefully or not, it’s a good idea.

Go back to the previous images under “branded anchors”. You’ll see that these brands have “noText” anchors.

What’s a better way to diversify your anchor profile, then not having ANY words at all?

The easiest way to building “noText” anchors is through images or you can simply “forget” to include an anchor within an article, which will have a similar effect.

Image Anchors

I always throw in image links with every campaign because I think it’s a great way to diversify. Some SEOs claim that the anchor text isn’t counted in images, but in my experience it does count.

Google uses the “ALT” tag as the anchor text in an image.

If you leave this blank, you’ll get a “noText” anchor like I mentioned above.

Brand + Keyword Anchor

This is another great way to stay “safe” and for building a diverse, natural anchor profile.

I’ll use “Gotch SEO” as the brand and my target keyword as “link building”.

The anchor text would look like this:

  • “link building strategies by Gotch SEO”
  • “Gotch SEO link building strategies”

You’re simply combining your target keyword with your brand.

LSI Anchors

“LSI” is the acronym for “Latent Semantic Indexing”.

It really just means variations of your main keyword.

So, if I’m targeting “link building”, then some LSI keywords would be:

  • “what is link building”
  • “building links”
  • “link building example”
  • “define link building”

Finding LSI keywords is super easy. You can either use Google’s suggest options in the search bar, “Searched related to ___” at the bottom of the search results, or for more extensive keywords, you can use the Keyword Planner.

Related Searches Options

Find LSI #1

Google Suggest Options

google suggest

Google Keyword Planner

Find LSI #3

Find LSI #4

Partial-Match Anchors

Partial matches are very similar to LSI’s, but the biggest difference is that you’re making it up as opposed to using Google’s suggestions or using keywords that have search volume.

Here are some examples for target keyword “link building”:

  • “learn about link building”
  • “quality link building guide”
  • “this link building article”

I use partial-match anchors quite a lot because it’s a very natural way of linking to another website.

Long Anchors

Long anchors are really just an extension of partial-match except they are a little longer.

Here are a few examples for “anchor text”:

  • “anchor text is the key to link building”
  • “I used anchor text to get these rankings”

Exact Match Anchors

The king of all anchor text. It has the power to increase your rankings, but also has the power to penalize your website.

To simply put it, an exact match anchor is the exact match of whatever your target keyword is.

Example: if “link building” is my target keyword, then my exact match anchor would be “link building”.

Co-Occurrence: Build Relevancy Without Exact Match Anchors

Before I jump into percentages, you need to have a firm understanding of co-occurrence. Don’t feel intimidated by this nerdy terminology. It’s actually really simple.

So since you won’t be using a ton of keyword-rich anchor text, you will need a way to create relevancy for your links. I’m not kidding when I say this, I use the co-occurrence technique I’m about to show you, with every single link I build.

Mainly because I try to make every single link relevant even if it isn’t using a keyword-rich anchor or even if it’s on a website with average relevancy to mine.

How can you do this? Very simple.

You’re going to surround your anchor text with your target keyword. Getting the target keyword as close to the anchor as possible is the best, but as you’ll see in the examples, it doesn’t always have to be.

Do what’s natural and don’t try to stuff keywords around your anchor.

Sample #1: Generic Anchor

Target Keyword: “anchor text”
Anchor Text: “go here”

“If you’re looking for more information about anchor text go here right away.”

Sample #2: Branded Anchor

Target Keyword: “anchor text”
Anchor Text: “Gotch SEO”

“Anchor text is the visible and clickable text in a link. For more in-depth information you should read this article from Gotch SEO.”

Sample #3: Naked Link

Target Keyword: “anchor text”
Anchor Text: “http://www.gotchseo.com/anchor-text/”

“For more in-depth information about anchor text I highly recommend this article: http://www.gotchseo.com/anchor-text/.”

Using the co-occurrence technique is a must for any anchor text including exact match. The greater the relevancy of content surrounding your anchor, the stronger your backlink will be.

This is why I always use super targeted content in my link building campaigns.

Place Your Anchor Text in Super Relevant Content

Below, I’ve given you a few different examples of the types of content I would use for link building purposes. The better the relevancy of your article to your target keyword, the higher you will rank.

Keyword: “anchor text”

Instead of writing a broader article about link building, I would actually write articles specifically about anchor text. The tighter the relevancy of the linking article, the stronger your link.

Keyword: “New York personal injury lawyer”

I would write an article like “How to Find a Reputable Personal Injury Lawyer in New York” instead of a generic article about personal injury.

Keyword: “garcinia cambogia”

Instead of writing an article about health or weight loss, I would write an article like “10 Garcinia Cambogia Scams to Watch Out For”.

Last Word on Co-Occurrence

Surround your links with highly relevant content to increase their power. Google is fully capable of understanding the relevancy of a certain link without you needing to shove hundreds of exact match anchors in its face.

Bringing me to the next very important section where you’ll learn the exact anchor percentages I use with every link building campaign.

Sound good? Keep reading.

Section III

Anchor Text Percentages

So now that you have a firm understanding of all the different anchor text you can use, I’m going to show you the anchor text percentages that have kept my websites safe through every Penguin update.

These percentages are not the law, and you can change these if you want.

But keep in mind… I’ve spent $50,000 + testing this stuff, analyzing the link profiles of thousands of websites, and successfully ranking client’s websites in the most competitive industries online.

I’m not telling you this to brag, but I want to you know that you’re not reading some theory or generalization. This is what works!

Branded Anchor Text: 50%

Google wants you to create a brand. Not a fly-by-night website. One of the easiest ways for them to differentiate between a “brand” and a SEO-driven website is to look at the amount of branded anchors hitting the site.

In the next section, I’m going to show you the best platforms for getting quality branded links.

Naked Links: 25%

As I mentioned above, naked links are a very safe and a very natural anchor text. A bulk of your backlinks should be using naked links.

Generic Anchors: 20%

Generic anchors keep your link profile looking “natural” and are a necessity. Try not to use “click here” for every single one. You can pretty much use any word in the English language that isn’t related to your keyword, and it will be considered generic.

I’ll have a nice list of generic anchors in the excel file that you can start using.

LSI, Partial Match Anchors: 1-5%

Okay, so after branded, naked, and generic anchors, you’re left with around 5% leeway for keyword-rich anchors. The majority of the last 5% anchors should be variations of your main keyword.

Exact Match Anchors: Less Than 1%

I use exact match anchor text as a LAST resort, not a first option. Keep in mind, the less you use it, the more powerful it becomes.

Assigning a percentage to exact match anchors is very, very, VERY dangerous!

Think about this for a second:
If we take the agreed upon percentage in the SEO community that says around 5% exact match anchors is “safe”, and place that same percentage on three websites with more or less links, watch what happens:

Website A: 100 backlinks = 5 exact match anchors
This is definitely possible and generally would not put your site at risk.

Website B: 1,000 backlinks = 50 exact match anchors
The possibility of 50 different websites linking to your page with the same exact anchor text is pretty unlikely.

Website C: 10,000 backlinks = 500 exact match anchors
Obviously this isn’t possible and your page or website would get drilled by Penguin.

Okay, so now do you see why assigning a percentage to exact match anchors is a bad idea?

The good news is that the strategy I’m about to show you is a million times more effective than just hitting your site with the same keyword-rich anchor over-and-over.

Let me introduce you to anchor text cycling.

Anchor Text Cycling: More Rankings With Less Backlinks

Anchor CyclingSo, basically what you’ll be doing is using your exact match anchor, cycling through variations, and returning back to your exact match if necessary.

Most of the time, you won’t need to reuse the exact match because you’ll already have reached the first page.

Scenario: brand new website with fresh link profile (fresh = no backlinks built)

The first thing I do with a fresh link profile is hit the site with an exact match anchor text from a strong source. Now, you’re probably wondering: “isn’t it dangerous to hit a brand new website with an exact match anchor??”

It’s not, and it never will be. No one in the history of SEO has been penalized from one link. Sites get penalized for their link PROFILES, not one or two links.

It’s like saying eating McDonalds one time is the reason why you’re overweight. We know that it’s the combined effect of a bad diet over a period of time that leads to obesity. The same goes for your link profile.

Repeatedly building over-optimized, spammy backlinks overtime will lead to a penalty.

Now that I got that out of the way…Why do I use an exact match anchor for my first backlink?

Because I want to see how the site reacts and because it’s telling Google “Hey! My website is about ____” right off the bat.

Keep in mind, it doesn’t take a ton of backlinks to rank in most niches. Often times, less than 100 backlinks is all that’s necessary to rank in low-medium competition niches.

Always focus on quality over quantity and your rankings will stick. The smarter you are with anchor text, the less links you’ll need to rank.

After I hit the site with an exact match anchor, then I begin the process of cycling. In the excel file, there will be a few examples of how to I would cycling through anchors with a branded site, an EMD, and partial match website. The entire point of using anchor cycling is to build a diverse and natural link profile.

Want to know the secret to a having a “natural” anchor profile complete randomness. There should be no patterns EVER.

Take a look at these two examples:
cycling

* Site #1 is the typical link profile you’ll see with someone using automated link building tools or someone who has no idea what they’re doing. Google’s algorithm can easily conclude that this site is building links artificially. A manual reviewer wouldn’t even be necessary.

* Site #2 has a natural and diverse anchor profile. It will outrank site #1 with less backlinks and less keyword-rich anchor text, and it will survive any Penguin updates.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing black, grey, or white hat SEO, this concept still applies to you. The only difference is that a true white hat SEO would write content, and try to attract a diverse link profile naturally.

I’ll admit this does work, but the biggest problem is how long it takes to build momentum.

The other option is to create the “natural” anchor profile artificially. This expedites the ranking process.

In the next section, I’m going to explain the exact types of websites you should use for building keyword-rich, generic, and branded anchors.

Laser Targeted Anchor Text Placement

If you understand what I’m about to show you, you will be 99.9% safe from any Google updates. Understanding WHERE to place your anchor text is absolutely critical. Many SEOs immediately stop using a link building platform once it’s been devalued by Google.

This is the wrong approach.

The only reason why certain platforms such as article directories, web directories, and press releases have been “devalued” is because of people using commercial anchor text trying to “game” the search engine.

Many of these “devalued” properties are still very good sources for sending authority and trust to your website as long as you use the right anchor text.

Below, I’m going to show you every type of backlink along with what anchor text you should use.

Power Links

All of the following links are where you should concentrate your keyword-rich anchors. I call them “power links” because they are the strongest, and best for increasing your rankings. Most power links will be contextual (within content) because Google gives such links more weight.

You will not need a ton of these to make a serious impact in most niches.

Characteristics of a “Power Link”:
  • PageRank (PR) 2 or above – you can acquire strong links from sites with PR less than 2, but they need to have strong DA and PA.
  • Domain Authority (DA) 20 +
  • Page Authority (PA) 25 +
  • TrustFlow 10 +

Remember, ALL of these metrics can manipulated, so make sure you do your due diligence whenever competing for domains in auctions, or buying links.

Private Blog Network Links

Building your own PBN is the best investment you’ll ever make in SEO. Not only can you control all aspects of your link profile, but you will crush the competition.

Since you spent money acquiring expired domains in auctions, you deserve to put them to work!

PBNs are where you should use your exact match, partial match, and LSI anchor text.

Buying Links

If you don’t feel like creating your own private blog network, then you can always purchase links on other people’s network or on relevant websites. Once again, if you’re paying for these links, then you should use keyword-based anchors.

WARNING: Be careful with public blog networks and make sure you do a lot of research before paying. If you do decide to join one, the network should NOT be providing reports, should have all link trackers like Ahrefs, Majestic, and Open Site Explorer completely blocked, all the domains should have private WHOIS, every site must be a separate host (not SEO hosting), and each site in the network shouldn’t have more than 30-40 outbound links.

Relevant Guest Posts

As much as Matt Cutt’s would like you to believe, guest posts are not dead. In fact, they are still a great option for getting strong links. The only problem with guest posts is that most will not get any time on the homepage where the authority resides.

Fortunately, Page Authority (PA) increases very quickly on strong domains with some solid tier two links. So, if you do decide to launch a guest posting campaign, focus on domains that have 20 + Domain Authority (DA) and build some strong tier two links.

For anchor text, stick with partial-match anchors and LSI anchors.

Using exact match anchors on guest posts is a little risky, but you will be safe as long as it’s not excessive. If you’re following the anchor cycling strategy, then it’s unlikely that you’ll be using exact match anchors on these posts anyway.

Donations / Sponsorship

Although finding donation or sponsorship pages that aren’t spammed is pretty difficult, there are some diamonds in the rough. If you find a donation or sponsorship page with low outbound links, you can use a partial match anchor since most of these pages are extremely authoritative.

If they only accept images for their sponsors, then take advantage of it and use an exact match anchor in the image ALT tag.

When you sign-up for my free newsletter, you receive an excel file with a ton of different search strings you can use in Google to find sponsorships or donations.

* 301 redirects (Be Careful)

If you’re a beginner, then I do not recommend messing with 301s quite yet. As you may or may not know, 301 redirects are basically like stealing rankings in Google. In a flash, your site can transform from a weak new website, to an authoritative one overnight.

If you didn’t know, a 301 redirect is a permanent redirect of a website. With a 301, a large majority (not all) of the authority is transferred to the new domain.

So, why am I telling you this? Because one thing that many people do not take into account, is that the 301 will also transfer the anchor text from the redirected domain.

This means, if the redirected domain has a spammy anchor profile, it WILL transfer to your new website. It also means, if the redirected domain was penalized for over-optimized anchor text, there is a good chance that it will transfer to the new website.

There are some ways to avoid this.

Option #1: make sure the new website has a good amount of unoptimized anchor text BEFORE you hit the site with the 301 redirect.

Option #2: build unoptimized anchors to the domain that will be redirected if the anchors are too aggressive.

I recommend combining both options to make sure your new site stays safe.

Diversity Links

Power links carry the most weight, but they also need supporting links to increase the diversity and “naturalness” of your anchor profile.

Remember, although you’re using non-keyword rich anchors, you will still be getting the benefits of co-occurrence with the links below.

Paid Directories – There are many paid directories that are still worth it because they can send trust and authority to your website. Always use branded anchor text with paid directories.

Traditional Directories – quality free directories come few and far between, but when you do find them, always use branded anchors.

Business Directories – business directories are great for trust because it shows Google that you’re treating your website like a business. Most business directories only allow naked links, which is exactly what you want.

Press Releases – Google has laid the hammer down on press releases on a couple of different occasions, and has forced many SEOs to say “they aren’t worth it.” It’s true. Press releases alone will not increase your rankings and if you used incorrectly, could actually be detrimental.

However, if you’re trying to diversify your link and anchor profile, then they are perfect.

In a typical press release, you’ll have around three backlinks and it will distributed across a wide array of websites with unique IPs.

Let’s say your press releases gets picked up by 70 websites. That means your website will now have 210 un-optimized anchors added to your profile. Many of these links will also be “nofollow”, which is also good for diversity.

Press releases are my go-to for diluting my anchor profile. ALWAYS use branded, generic, and naked link anchor text.

Do not use keyword-rich anchors in your press releases EVER. They designed for newsworthy information about your business, not for increasing your rankings in Google. Act like a business, and be treated like a business by Google.

Web 2.0s – web 2.0s are a great way to diversify your anchor profile and send a ton of relevancy to your website. At this point, there is a very good chance that Google will dramatically devalue free web 2.0 properties in the future because of high level of spam.

For this reason, you’ll probably want to avoid using keyword-rich anchor text and focus on branded links. You can probably use LSI or partial match anchors and be okay, but if you’re more of a risk adverse type, then you’ll feel better knowing that you built non-keyword rich anchors.

Keep in mind; all of the content surrounding your link on the web 2.0 is going to be highly relevant, so the anchor will still have power. Don’t underestimate co-occurrence.

Learn how to manually build web 2.0 properties here.

Forum Signatures – Participating in forums a great strategy for increasing traffic, and most importantly, showing Google that you’re trying to be a part of your niche’s community. You should only use branded and naked link anchors in forum signatures.

Profile Links – there are many websites where you can get quality DoFollow profile backlinks, but you should always use naked link anchor text for these.

Social Bookmarks – always use generic and branded anchor text with social bookmarks. I only use SB’s for diversity and a little “social signal” action.

Blog Comments – participating on relevant blogs through comments is perfect for referral traffic and is another great way to show Google that you’re an active participant in your niche’s community.

ALWAYS use your name in blog comments. You can sometimes mix it up and throw in your brand, but this is as promotional as you should get. If you’re able to get some DoFollow blog comments, then you should only use generic or naked link anchors.

Article Directories – back in the day, article directories were the go-to for link builders. Google devalued many of these directories, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still benefit from them. Only focus on article directories that have manual reviews of articles, and most importantly, never use keyword-rich anchor text.

Always use branded or naked link anchors if you decide to use article directories. Many of these directories are DoFollow and do have some pretty strong authority, so don’t feel like you need to completely rule them out. They are perfect for building a diverse anchor and link profile.

Tier Two and Three Anchor Text

Figuring out anchor text on tier one is hard enough, but what about tier two and three? Fortunately, the percentages aren’t as strict.

Before I explain, you need to know what “tier” links are:

  • Tier One = the backlinks directly hitting your website
  • Tier Two = the backlinks directly hitting your tier one
  • Tier Three = the backlinks directly hitting your tier two

Tier Three -> Tier Two -> Tier One -> Your Website

Since these links aren’t hitting your site directly, you can be a little more aggressive, but don’t go too crazy.

Here’s how my tier two anchor ratios typically look:

  • Naked links: 40%
  • Generic: 30%
  • LSI, Partial-Match: 25%
  • Exact Match: 5%

To get the most bang for your buck, you should use high PR or PBN links for your keyword-based anchors, and high PR DoFollow blog comments, and social bookmarks for your naked link and generic anchors.

Just like your tier one, you’re using your keyword-based anchors only with your most powerful links and saving the average links for diversity.

I typically don’t build a tier three, but if you decide to, you can go pretty crazy with anchor text.

When I do use tier three, here’s how I do it:

  • Naked links: 10%
  • Generic: 10%
  • LSI, Partial-Match: 50%
  • Exact Match: 30%

Section IV

EMDs, PMDs: Avoid Like the Plague (If You’re a Beginner)

First, let’s make sure we understand what EMD and PMD actually mean.

Exact Match Domain (EMD): a domain that is an exact match of your target keyword.

Example: if my target keyword is “anchor text”, then my exact match domain would be “anchortext.com”, “anchortext.net”, etc.

Partial Match Domain (PMD): a domain with part of the keyword or a domain with the keyword, but also with filler words.

Example: if my target keyword is “anchor text”, then two different PMDs could be “anchortextbible.com” or “theanchorbible.com”.

So, why should you avoid these types of domains if you’re an SEO / link building beginner? Because EMDs are very susceptible to over-optimization penalties. PMDs aren’t as dangerous, but in inexperienced hands, could trigger a penalty.

Now the real question: are EMDs or PMDs even worth it? Most SEOs who follow the Google propaganda would say they are “dead”. This is mainly because of the EMD update in September 2012.

Those SEOs are partially right.

LOW-QUALITY exact match domains with thin content, low-quality links, and over-optimized anchor text are definitely dead.

All the percentages I’ve shown earlier in the book, are suited for branded domains. But for EMDs, we need to change up the percentages to not only rank, but to keep your site safe.

Ratios for Exact Match Domains:

  • Branded / Exact Match Anchors: 1-5%
  • LSI: 5%
  • Partial Match: 5%
  • Generic: 40%
  • Naked Links: 40%

Over-Optimized Anchor Text Recovery

If you’ve been hit by an algorithmic penalty, then it IS possible to get your rankings back if anchor text is the problem.

In my experience, over-optimized anchor text mixed with over-optimized on-page SEO, is the perfect formula for getting your website hit by Penguin. Keep in mind, there is a lot of evidence that Penguin and Panda work together when analyzing a website. Both updates analyze different factors, collect and pool data, recognize spammy patterns, and then penalize a site.

updates working together

The good news is that both of these problems are pretty easy fixes. Although this is a book dedicated to anchor text, I will explain some quick tips for fixing up your on-page to bring your rankings back and avoid getting hit in the future.

On-Page Changes for Penalty Recovery

Keyword Density

The biggest problem generally has to do with keyword density.

YES, keyword density DOES matter.

Stuffing a page with the same keyword over-and-over will set you up for a penalty. Go back to the section “How Penguin Works” to understand why this happens.

So, obviously, the first thing you need to do is fix your density. If you want to rank a particular page, you don’t need to go crazy with stuffing keywords.

Place your target keyword in these critical spots on your page:

  • Title
  • First sentence
  • ALT tag of first image
  • First H1 or H2 tag (you can use a variation of the keyword here)
  • Last sentence

Assuming your article is longer than 600 words, your density will probably be 1% or less. This is ideal. You can go as high as 3%, but I don’t recommend anything higher if you’re looking for long-term rankings.

If you’re having trouble keeping your percentages low, then you need to use variations main keyword. Not only will this keep you safe, but also it will actually help your rankings for all variations of your keyword.

Keyword Dilution

Many people don’t take this one into account, but it can really hurt your rankings. Keyword “dilution” when you’re trying to rank more than one page for the same or very closely related keywords.

For example, if my homepage was targeting “Los Angeles Personal Injury Law Firm”, and I had a subpage targeting “LA Personal Injury Law Lawyer”, Google would then choose which page it thinks is most relevant to the searchers. At the same time, whatever page it chooses will decrease in value because it’s a spammy on-page tactic whether it’s on purpose or not.

This problem can be solved very easily:
1.) Target only ONE page for your keywords: after the Hummingbird update, Google is very good at ranking pages for many variations of the same keyword. So, if you’re target “Los Angeles personal injury lawyer” and you use the anchor text strategies in this book, your page will rank for all variations of that keyword such as “LA personal injury attorney”, “personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles”, etc.

2.) If you decide to keep an inner page for targeting your keyword, then change the META information on the duplicate page to avoid keyword dilution. If you’re going to use the homepage to target your main keyword, then 301 direct the other landing page to the homepage.

Backlink Strategies for Penalty Recovery

There are a few different link building techniques you can use to recovery from a penalty. Depending on the severity of the penalty, these tricks will work on the majority of penalized domains.

Keep in mind, my personal approach to penalties is to just start over with a fresh domain. But if you’re in love with your current site, the strategies below will help.

Disavow?

I wanted to clear air before I explain the strategies. Disavowing is an absolute LAST resort, not the first. The only time when you really need to use this tool is if your website was hit with negative SEO or it’s impossible to remove some of the links that you previously built.

You can recover from ALL algorithmic penalties without ever needing to use this tool. If you have a manual penalty, then it may be necessary (I’ll be addressing manual penalties after this section).

Remove Links Links With Commercial Anchor Text (From Spammy Sites)

As I discussed in the section about anchor text placement, you should only use commercial / keyword-rich anchor text on high-quality sources. High quality sources are going to be relevant, have 20+ DA, have 50 + pages of unique content, and look like or be REAL websites.

As a reminder of what types of links should be hitting your money website, please read How to Build Tier One Backlinks.

If you made the unfortunate mistake of building backlinks on low-quality sources with keyword-rich anchors, then you have two options: go back and delete the links. If you can’t delete the links, then disavow.

After you’ve done all you can to remove keyword-rich anchors from spammy sources, then you can jump into anchor text dilution.

Please notice that I said “spammy” sources. Don’t go on a link deleting spree and delete links that are actually decent.

Anchor Text Diluting

This is the most common technique and it does work in many cases. All you’re going to do, is build unoptimized backlinks to your website with nothing but branded, generic, and naked link anchors.

Absolutely no keyword rich anchors!

Before Penguin 3.0, you could counter over-optimized anchors by using the dilution technique. Diluting still works, but there are some added elements. Most importantly, we’ve noticed like the Micro Site Masters, that one important element of the penalties is a lack of GOOD links.

Now, if you combine a low-quality link profile with lots of keyword-rich anchor text, then you’re asking to be hit.

These are the links you should use in to create a better anchor profile (in priority order):

1.) Strong, Relevant Backlinks

These are the most costly, but are also the best for improving your overall link profile. Get as many as you can. Relevancy is king with or without a penalty.

2.) Business Directories / Local Citations

Take the time to create business listings on the popular websites. It’s a huge trust signal and most give a DoFollow link with a naked link anchor.

3.) LEGIT Social Profiles

Go out and build REAL social profiles for your website. Populate the profiles with your information, content, etc. Only use the best sites: Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Tumblr, etc. These sites will give you a nice mix of NoFollow and DoFollow unoptimized anchors and will build trust for your website.

4.) High-Quality Press Release Distribution

Create a quality press release and distribute it through a quality channel. Create for getting unoptimized anchors from many different IPs quickly. You’ll also build diversity in your link profile because of the NoFollow / DoFollow mix.

301 Penalty Recovery Trick

Remember in an earlier section when I said that anchor text travels through a 301 to the new website? You’re going to use this to your advantage to recovery from an algorithmic penalty.

There are two variations of the 301 penalty recovery trick.

Variation #1
Expired Domain -> Penalized Domain

For the first variation, you’ll need to find a quality expired domain and win it in an auction like GoDaddy Auctions. You’ll want to make sure the anchor profile is clean and has little, to no keyword rich anchors.

Look for a domain with branded, generic, and naked link anchors or what some people may refer to as a “natural” anchor profile.

Although you’re not necessary using this expired domain for ranking purposes, it’s not a bad idea to find one with solid metrics. Preferably PA 30 +, DA 20 +, PR 2 +, and a Trust Flow of 10 +. Also, if you can find a domain that is relevant to yours, it will work even better.

All that you’re going to do now is simply 301 redirect this expired domain to your penalized site and wait.

Variation #2
Links -> Penalized Site -> New Website

For variation two, you’re going to start fresh with a new website, but we’re going to piggy back off the authority of your penalized domain (hopefully it has some).

Step 1: buy a new BRANDED website (avoid EMD, PMD)

Step 2: build high-quality branded backlinks to your new website
Use business directories, quality paid directories, quality traditional directories, press releases, etc. Only use branded anchor text – this will show Google that you’re now acting like a brand.

Step 3: build unoptimized backlinks to your penalized domain
The goal is to decrease the percentage of keyword rich anchors. The percentage all depends on severity your particular situation is. If you have 70% keyword rich anchor text, then you’ll need to get that down to at least 30% or less. If you have 30% keyword rich anchors, then you’ll want to get it down to 10% or less.

Step 4: check your anchor profile with Ahrefs, Majestic, or Open Site Explorer.

Step 5: if you’ve cut your keyword rich anchors in half, then it’s time to redirect your penalized site to the new domain.

This works because A) you’re using a new branded website with an established branded text anchor profile, B) you’ve improved the anchor profile of the penalized website, and C) you’re transferred authority to a new domain.

What About Manual Penalties?

It’s less headache and much more cost-effective to just start a new website, then to try to get out of a manual penalty.

Like I always tell my clients, getting a manual penalty is like going to prison for a felony. Although you may get out of prison one day, you’re still always going to have the felony on your record. Do you really think Google wipes the slate clean for a website that was previously given a manual penalty?

Even if you do get the penalty lifted, ranking your site will never be easy and it’s always going to feel like “something is holding you back”.

Changing Anchor Text: Red Flag?

I’ve heard this question a lot and I’ve actually done this many times.

The answer is: sometimes. Annoying, right?

One of the biggest ways to place a ton of attention on a particular link is when you change a non-keyword rich anchor to a keyword rich anchor.  Google may or not devalue a link when this happens, but it’s definitely not worth it. Just leave the link how it is, and go build one somewhere else.

Situations that won’t throw up a red flag:

1. Changing a keyword rich anchor to a non-optimized anchor – going back and decreasing your amount of commercial anchor text can often increase your rankings. That is, if there is a high level of them. If your exact match anchors or keyword-rich anchors are above 25%, then you may want to consider un-optimizing some of those.

2. Deleting an anchor and placing it within a different part of the article – if you decide to change an anchor, you should always place the new one in a different part of the article. When you do this, it makes the anchor / link “new” in Google’s eyes. You’ll be losing an aged link, but in theory, starting with a fresh link.

IMPORTANT: You should only change anchor text under extreme circumstances. Most over-optimized anchor text issues can be solved with the techniques I listed in the penalty recovery section.

Number of Links + Brand Searches = ?

Although this has more to do with links in general, it’s still important to note. If you have a certain amount of links, then you should be getting a certain amount of branded searches. It’s hard to give a definitive number or ratio of brand searches to links, but Google is actively implementing this into the algorithm and it will be a strong ranking factor once it’s refined.

So, for example, if Gotch SEO has 1,000 backlinks, then hypothetically, 1,000 websites have found my content or site to be useful. For this reason, my website will have buzz and people should be searching to learn more about my brand in Google or to revisit my website.

I should be getting searches like “Gotch SEO”, “Nathan Gotch”, “who is Nathan Gotch”, etc.

branded

This is exactly what you want.

Now, there are two ways to get more people searching for your brand.

  • #1: create highly valuable content that people share and link to naturally
  • #2: create highly valuable content, rank it well in Google, THEN people will share it naturally.

Option #1 is the hoping and praying approach, while #2 is the take-action approach. As you’ll notice, creating valuable content is a must for both.

Don’t get obsessed with rankings, and forget that you’re actually suppose to provide the searchers some sort of value. If you don’t, then you won’t make money from your website or business, and you just wasted however many months trying to rank in Google for no apparent reason.

Focus on Option #2, and you’ll get the branded searches you need to keep your site looking natural in the eyes of Google.

Anchor Text Tracking: Don’t Shoot Blindly at the Target

Tracking your anchor text is absolutely critical if you’re building backlinks. If you aren’t, you’re basically shooting at a target blindfolded. There needs to be organization and you need to make sure you’re not overdoing it with keyword-rich anchors.

I use a good ol’ excel sheet to track my anchors. In the excel sheet, I typically only track the keyword-rich anchors and keep mental note of the branded links I’ve built thus far.

Download this excel file and you’ll see a sample of how I track my anchors along with all types of anchor variations you need.

That’s a WRAP on Anchor Text

That’s all I think can of on anchor text and I know these strategies will help you achieve some awesome rankings while keeping your site from any future Penguin updates. If you enjoyed this article, then you better share it with your friends!!! Okay, thanks for reading and leave your questions below to keep the conversion going.

– Gotch

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Comments

  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.

    Cheers!

    • 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.
        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!

        • 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

      Craig,

      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?

        Thanks

        • 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

      Thomas,

      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 cattoys.com and you have an inner page “cattoys.com/furrymouse” then we may expect that 50-90% of the anchor texts going to that inner page would be “furry mouse” and not “cattoys.com”. 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 superresort.com 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 “superresort.com/yoga-retreats” 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?

            Thanks!

          • 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

    thanks

  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.

    thanks

  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 SEOprofiler.com, 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 wordpress.com 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 “blogspot.com” 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 toasterreviewed.com

    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 http://www.toasterviewed.com or toasterviewed.com 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 northcaliforniasurfing.com 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 sooperresort.com 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 sooperresort.com/yoga-retreats, 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) M.biz: 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 essential-oils.com 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

    thanks

  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: http://www.gotchseo.com/contact/

      Thanks!

      – 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 personalpress.gr 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?

    thanks

    • 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

    Thanks.

  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!

    Thanks,

    Dan

  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.

  37. Tim Kim says

    Gotch SEO is right on the money. I’ve used this strategy on some incredibly hard keywords 400.000 + searches a month and it works!

  38. Michal says

    Great article! I have a question about anchor percents. You haven’t written anything about partial match domains where main anchor is for example: “Internet Marketing” and domain is for example internetadvertiesment.com or advertiesmentininternet.com. I am afraid that using 40-50% brand name anchors can get penalty for main keyword: Internet Marketing. What do you think about it?

  39. Nizam says

    Hey Gotch, I’ve been following your blog and I’m really impressed with all the tips and advices that you’ve shared with your readers.
    I’ve been testing this strategy on one of my moneysite (drip feed links with only branded, partial & long tail anchor text over a month) and I’ve noticed some improvement in rankings although I never put exact match anchor (however KW with MS> 2k still N/A). I will put 5-10 “PBN” links with exact match anchor to see the effects next week.

    I’ve some questions here,

    I’ve noticed that if you build web 2.0s as your tier 1 links, it rarely shows up in Majestic and Ahrefs. Do you noticed that as well? Or maybe I’ve done something wrong? This makes it difficult for me to check my anchor text ratio.. Don’t recommend me to use Webmaster Tools since I hate them! (LOL) and I’m a bit skeptical using WMT on my site. I believe Google can spy any BlackH/GreyH activities on your site.

    Another thing is, I’ve thinking of a new strategy to save my site in case someone “negative SEO’d” my site (and at the same time help them ranking strongly). Do you mind emailing me your contact so that I can discuss with you on this? I really want to hear some advices/recommendations from someone who have lot of experience in SEO.

    Regards,
    Nizam

  40. Peter says

    Hi Gotch.
    I wondered if you would place more than 1 link to the site your trying to rank from a PBN article. i.e. if in the article you linked to the site from 1. partial match anchor 2. Naked URL and 3. Link an image ?

    And wound this count as 3 links? (in terms of tracking anchor text percentages)

    Thanks so much.
    I find you blog really helpful and precise!

    • says

      Peter, thanks for the comment!

      I actually do this pretty frequently. I use my best anchor text first and will use the next 1-2 to dilute. It works very well. I just wouldn’t link out three times to the same page very often from the same PBN article because it could be a footprint – mix it up

      – Gotch

  41. says

    It’s still an excellent article, Gotch! This guide is “epic”. It’s true. I’ve ever read your Anchor-text to defeat hostile Penguins months ago. This newest article is best of the best. Thanks man for contributing to the community such a perfect guide.

  42. says

    Hi there,

    Great stuff… i know that anchor text are important but don’t know how can I manipulate them. Thanks for the great article. I have subscribe your blog please keep posting such a useful content.

  43. says

    Regarding trying to recover from over optimized anchor text, it looks like all the solutions to fix the problem that you mention in the article would involve spam (press releases less so, but still not exactly high quality). You don’t think that by ‘solving’ your anchor text problem, you could be creating a bad backlink profile problem?

    • says

      Tyson,

      We’ve actually refined our dilution strategy, but didn’t have a chance to update the post. It’s updated now, so take a look. Thanks for the comment and logical analysis :)

  44. Lisa says

    Hi Nathan,

    This is a very interesting one. I got my site hit by a “was previously” cute birdie, Penguin 3.0. I already used exact match keywords for directories and Press Releases. Do you think it’s a good idea to resubmit for article directories and press releases in the right way to dilute anchor text?

    Already submitted some of the bad links, but do you think I should disavow all these “wrong” Press Releases and article directories?

    Many thanks

    • says

      Lisa, thanks for the comment and sorry to hear about your troubles.

      I updated the section on penalty recovery which will help. For this scenario, I would try to change the keyword-rich anchors on the directories to branded anchors. Most press releases are NoFollow and will be a challenge to get removed. I would just send out another press release with unoptimized anchors while building the other links I mentioned in the updated section.

      Let me know if you have more questions. Thanks!

      • Robert says

        Hey Nathan, what is your opinion on using the same sites over and over again to dilute different pages on your site?

        For instance, I have 4 pages I want to rank on my site. If I use 1 press release targeting two pages, can I use a second press release, which will have links from the same sites, for the other two pages? What about profiles, bookmarks, and web 2.0’s? Does this become a red flag?

        I hope you see what I am getting at here. I don’t want to just rank a single page :)

        • says

          Hey Robert, thanks for the question and comment – if the press release is hitting different pages each time, then it will be fine. If possible, you should try to get as many different unique IPs

  45. says

    Really Interesting article on Anchor Text and one of the best I have ever read. It took me almost more than 2 hrs. to read the whole article.
    This should be an Ebook instead of a Blog article.
    Thank you

Trackbacks

  1. […] Know that the key to success in search engine optimization is in your ability to make it appear natural. Acquiring backlinks is one of its essential elements. But, it is sure to look odd if all the links you receive have your high-ranking keyword as their anchor texts. They are sure to look spammy for search engines. Make sure that you have a wide variety in keyword and brand links. […]

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