Anchor Text Guide for 2018

What is anchor text and how do you use it?

Don’t worry! This guide will show you how to use anchor text so that you can maximize your SEO results.

Let’s jump right in:

Table of Contents

  1. What is Anchor Text?
  2. Anchor Text Before Penguin
  3. 10 Different Types of Anchor Text
  4. Co-Occurrence: Build Relevancy Without Exact Match Anchors
  5. Anchor Text Percentages
  6. Anchor Text Cycling
  7. Anchor Text Placement
  8. Anchor Text Distribution for EMDs & PMDs
  9. How to Fix Over-Optimized Anchor Text

What is Anchor Text?

Anchor text is the visible and clickable text in a link.

Here’s how anchor text looks in HTML:

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

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

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

Anchor Text Before Penguin

Before the first Penguin update, you could go absolutely buck wild with your anchor text.

You could use 100% exact match anchors for all of your backlinks and you would rank.

It was like stealing candy from a baby, and that’s why Google had to make a change.

That change was the Penguin update.

Anchor Text After Penguin

The first Penguin update in 2012 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 artificial backlinks or using spam to rank?



Why, might you ask?

Because a normal website should not have 100% of its backlinks with the anchor text “Payday Loans”.

You need to understand how Penguin analyzes anchor text and how it determines whether a site should be penalized or not.

I promise you, it’s not complicated, but it is CRITICAL that you understand so your site doesn’t get penalized.

Here’s exactly how Penguin works:

  1. You build a backlink
  2. Google indexes the backlink
  3. Google places this new backlink into its database for your specific website, also known as your “link profile”
  4. 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 your on-site keyword optimization.

If your on-page content is optimized for “Payday Loans” and 100% of your anchors are “Payday Loans”, then you will get a penalty.

That’s because it’s very easy for Google’s algorithm to see that you are:
A) trying to rank for “Payday Loans”
B) you are building links artificially

Exact match anchor text + keyword-rich optimization = Penguin penalty

So, how do you avoid getting penalized?

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

You will be learning about this in the following sections.

10 Different Types of Anchor Text

In order to create a “natural” anchor text profile, you need to understand all the different types of anchors.

Branded Anchors

“Branded” anchors are any anchor that uses your brand name in it. Here are some examples:

branded anchor text

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

Branded anchors are the safest type of anchor text if you have a branded domain. If you have an exact match domain, they aren’t too safe. I will explain this more in a later section.

To see the power of “branded” anchors, simply look at any big brand’s link profile.

Here are some examples for you:

1. Nordstrom

2. Best Buy

3. WebMD

These screenshots are from Ahrefs. Here’s how you can optimize your anchor text using Ahrefs:

Generic Anchors

“Generic” anchors are typically calls-to-action (CTAs) like:

generic anchor text

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

Naked Link Anchors

Any anchor that use a raw URL is considered a “naked” link. Here are some examples:

naked link anchor text

No Anchor Trick

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

Whether purposefully or not, it’s a good idea. Here’s what it looks like:

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

The easiest way to build “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

Throw in some image links with your campaigns because it’s a great way to diversify your profile.

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

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

Brand + Keyword Anchor

This is another great way to stay “safe” and to build 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:

You are 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 “backlinks”, then some LSI keywords would be:

Finding LSI keywords is super easy.

Just enter your keyword into, scroll to the bottom, and you’ll see the ideas:

Partial-Match Anchors

Partial matches are very similar to LSIs. The big difference is that you are creating the anchor text variation instead of using a tool.

Here are some examples for target keyword “anchor text”:

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

Exact Match Anchors

Exact match anchors are the king of all anchor text.

They have the power to increase your rankings, but also have the power to land you a penalty.

An exact match anchor is the exact match of whatever your target keyword is for the target page.

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

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.

Since you won’t be using a ton of keyword-rich anchor text, you will need a way to create relevancy for your links.


Relevancy is king in link building.

To get the “co-occurrence” effect, you are going to place your target keyword somewhere around your anchor text.

It’s best to place your target keyword as close to the anchor as possible.

It doesn’t HAVE to be, but it is ideal.

Always value doing what’s natural over doing what could be deemed as “spammy” or “manipulative”.

Sample #1: Generic Anchor

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

“If you are 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: “”

“For more in-depth information about anchor text I highly recommend this article:”

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, you 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”

You 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, you 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 link without you needing to shove hundreds of exact match anchors in its face.

Now it’s time to learn the exact anchor text percentages you need to use to drive results and keep your site safe from penalties.

Anchor Text Percentages

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 will keep your websites safe through every Penguin update.

Keep in mind:

These percentages are what work for me.

Always test your own techniques and play with the percentages.

Branded Anchor Text: 70%

Google wants you to create a brand.

Not a fly-by-night operation.

One of the easiest ways for them to differentiate between a “brand” and a spam 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: 20%

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

Generic Anchors: 5%

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.

LSI, Partial Match Anchors: 1-5%

Okay, so after branded, naked, and generic anchors, you are 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 Text: Less Than 1%

I use exact match anchor text as a LAST resort, not a first option.

Keep one important fact in mind:

The less exact match anchor text you use, the more powerful it becomes.

Also remember that assigning a distribution percentage to exact match anchor text is a very, very, VERY dangerous idea!

I want you to think about this for a second:

Let’s say we take the 5% exact match anchor text ratio that some SEOs recommend and do a little math:

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.

Now do you see why assigning a percentage to exact match anchors is a bad idea?

There is some good news for you:

The technique I’m about to show you is WAY more effective then drilling your site with exact match anchors.

Let me introduce you to anchor text cycling.

Anchor Text Cycling: More Rankings With Fewer Backlinks

Anchor text cycling works like this:

Step 1: Hit your target page with an exact match anchor

Step 2: Hit your site with unoptimized anchor text variations

Step 3: Track your rankings and watch the progress

Step 4: Hit your site with another exact match anchor (if necessary)

Here’s a visual example:

anchor text cycling

If you follow this process correctly and your content is strong, then you likely won’t need many exact match anchors.

The point of anchor text cycling is to spread your exact match anchors out over the course of months.

This is much more natural.

Here’s a scenario:

Let’s say you have a brand new website with a fresh link profile (fresh = no backlinks built).

The first thing you would do is hit the target page with a strong, relevant link with an exact match anchor.

You might be wondering: “Isn’t it dangerous to hit a brand new website with an exact match anchor?”


No one in history has ever been penalized for one link. You can quote me on that.

Sites get penalized for their overall link profiles, not one or two links.

It’s like saying eating McDonalds one time is the reason why someone is 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 over time will lead to a penalty.

Now that I got the weird analogy out of the way…

Why do I use an exact match anchor for my first backlink?

A) I want to see how the site reacts

B) I want to establish what my site or the target page is about right away

Don’t forget!:

It doesn’t take a ton of backlinks to rank for most keywords.

Always focus on quality over quantity when it comes to link acquisition.

The smarter you are with anchor text, the fewer links you will 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 I would cycle 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.

Do you want to know the secret to a having a “natural” anchor profile?

The answer:

Be completely random and avoid patterns.

Take a look at these two examples:

Site #1 is the typical link profile you will see when someone is using automated link building tools. Or when someone 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 fewer backlinks and less keyword-rich anchor text.

This of course assumes that Site #2 has relevant, high-quality links.

It doesn’t matter whether you are doing black, grey, or white hat SEO, this concept still applies to you.

Now that you understand how to cycle your anchors, let me show you WHERE to place your 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 to the success of your link building campaign.

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” Backlinks

“Power” links are any links that can have a big impact on your keyword rankings. These are the link types where you should concentrate your keyword-rich anchor text.

Editorial Links

An editorial backlink is a link placed in content “naturally” on a relevant website. These links take lots of time to acquire and sometimes require investment. Do not put your time and money to waste by using an unoptimized anchor! Editorial links are your opportunity to use an exact match or partial match anchor.

Niche Relevant Guest Posts

Sites that allow guest posts will typically let you leave a backlink in the author bio box. You should use unoptimized anchors for author bios because Google has cracked down on guest posts. If the site allows you to link within the body of the content, then make sure you drop a keyword-rich anchor.

Resource Pages

Quality resource pages will either allow branded anchors or the title of the resource. If you are linking to a content resource on your site, you should use the title of the page.

For example, if this article you are reading was placed on an “SEO resources” page, I would use “Official Anchor Text Guide (With Proven & Tested Strategies)” as the anchor text.

This is considered a partial match anchor.

Private Blog Networks (PBNs)

I don’t mess around with PBNs too much anymore, but you should use exact and partial match anchors. You invested money to buy the expired domain, so you should try to get the most out of it.

301 Redirects

If you are 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.

Foundational Links

“Foundational” links are backlinks designed to “dilute” your anchor text profile and increase your site’s trust.

That means you should not use ANY keyword-rich anchors for the following link types:

  • Paid Directories
  • Traditional Directories
  • Business Citations
  • Press Releases
  • Niche Relevant Blog Comments
  • Branded Web 2.0s
  • Forum Signatures
  • Sidebar/Footer Links
  • Profile Links
  • Social Bookmarks
  • Donations/Sponsorships

The only anchor text that should ever be used on foundational links are naked, branded, and generic anchor text.

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 “tiered” 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 your tier two anchor ratios should typically look:

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

To see what backlinks are best for tier two read this guide.

Just like your tier one, you are using your keyword-based anchors only with your most powerful links and saving the foundational 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%

EMDs, PMDs: Avoid Like the Plague (If You Are 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 “”, “”, 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 “” or “”.

Why should you avoid these types of domains if you are an SEO / link building beginner?

Answer: 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 this guide, are suited for branded domains.

For EMDs the percentages will be slightly different.

Ratios for Exact Match Domains:

  • Naked Links: 70%
  • Generic: 20%
  • LSI: 5%
  • Partial Match: 1-5%
  • Branded / Exact Match Anchors: 1-5%

How to Fix Over-Optimized Anchor Text

If you have 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.

There is a lot of evidence that both Google Panda and Penguin work together when analyzing a website.

Both algorithms analyze different factors, collect and pool data, recognize spammy patterns, and then penalize a site.


The good news is that both of these problems are pretty easy to fix.

Although this guide is dedicated to anchor text, I will explain some quick on-site SEO tips that will help you recover from a penalty.

On-Page Changes for Penalty Recovery

Keyword Density

Typically the biggest issue stems from 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.

Obviously, the first plan of action is for you to fix your keyword 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 higher if you are looking for long-term rankings.

If you are having trouble keeping your percentages low, then you need to use variations of the main keyword.

Not only will this keep you safe, but it will actually help your page rank for variations of your keyword.

Keyword Dilution

Many people don’t take this one into account, but it can really hurt your rankings.

Keyword “dilution” is when you are 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.

Keyword dilution confuses Google because it won’t know what page to prioritize.

A confused Google = no search engine visibility

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. If you are targeting “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 are going to use the homepage to target your main keyword, then 301 redirect the other landing page to the homepage.

Backlink Strategies for Penalty Recovery

There are a few different link building techniques you can use to recover 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 are in love with your current site, the strategies below will help.

Should You Disavow?

I wanted to clear the 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 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 “power” link sources.

Please read How to Build Backlinks to see what types of links should be directly hitting your website.

If you made the unfortunate mistake of building backlinks on low-quality sources with keyword-rich anchors, then you have two options:

  1. Go back and delete the links.
  2. If you can’t delete the links, then disavow.

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

Please notice that I said “spammy” sources.

Don’t go on a link-deleting spree because you will end up deleting links that are actually helping you.

Anchor Text Diluting

This is the most common technique and it does work in many cases.

All you are going to do is build unoptimized backlinks to your website with nothing but branded, generic, and naked link anchors.

Absolutely no keyword-rich anchors!

Use the “foundational” links I explained in the previous section to dilute your anchor text profile.

Before Penguin 3.0, you could counter over-optimized anchors by using the dilution technique.

Diluting still works, but there are some added factors now.

We have noticed, like the Micro Site Masters, that one important element of the penalties is a lack of GOOD links.

If you combine a low-quality link profile with lots of keyword-rich anchor text, then you are asking to be hit.

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

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. If you don’t want to put in the effort to get these links, then I recommend our new blogger outreach service.

2.) Business Directories / Local Citations

Take the time to create business listings because it’s a perfect way to send quality link unoptimized anchors to your site. This is an extremely time-consuming process, so I recommend you use our service to avoid wasting your precious time.

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. Press releases are great for quickly getting unoptimized anchors from many different IPs. You will 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 are going to use this to your advantage to recover 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 will need to find a quality expired domain through a service like Freshdrop. Make sure the anchor profile is clean and has very little 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 are 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 are going to do now is 301 redirect the expired domain to your penalized site and track the results.

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

For variation two, you are going to start fresh with a new website, but you are going to piggyback 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, niche relevant blog comments, press releases, etc. Only use branded anchor text.

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 the severity your particular situation. If you have 70% keyword-rich anchor text, then you will need to get that down to at least 30% or less. If you have 30% keyword-rich anchors, then you will 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 have 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 are using a new branded website with an established branded text anchor profile, B) you have improved the anchor profile of the penalized website, and C) you have transferred authority to a new domain.

What About Manual Penalties?

It’s less of a headache and much more cost-effective to just start a new website, than 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 are 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.

I know it’s an annoying answer.

If you want to raise a red flag, then change a non-keyword-rich anchor to a keyword-rich anchor. Google may or may not devalue a link when this happens, but it’s definitely not worth it.

Just leave the link how it is, and go acquire a link 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. If your exact match anchors or keyword-rich anchors are above 25%, then you may want to consider unoptimizing 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 will 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.

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 on Google or by revisiting my website.

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


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 (if it’s good).

Option #1 is the hoping and praying approach, while #2 is the action-taking approach.

As you will notice, creating valuable content is a must for both.

Don’t get so obsessed with rankings that you forget that you are actually supposed to provide the searchers with some sort of value.

If you don’t, then you won’t make money from your website or business, and you just wasted months trying to rank on Google for no apparent reason.

Focus on Option #2, and you will 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 are building backlinks. If you aren’t, you are 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’ Google sheet to track my anchors.

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


That’s all I think can of on anchor text. I know these strategies will help you achieve some awesome rankings while keeping your site from any future Penguin updates.

Want to learn how to grow your business without any new traffic?

Join our new SEO 101 course today. It’s free.


  1. 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.


    1. 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

          1. Mr Gotch i want to ask you that backlinks gives with different variation to inner pages as well as home page of the website,or we can hit only our targeted keywords,or any more.Please give me the ratio of backlinks about inner pages ( thanks )

          2. There is no set ratio, but the majority of your backlinks should go to internal pages. We personally try to use an 80/20 split.

            80% = backlinks to internal pages
            20% = to homepage

          1. hi Gotch,

            Your article is really great. I will follow some of your teachings. My question so far is that can I use my Brand Name and have a link on it on my sub page? Example Brand Name ? Can I do that or should I only link my Brand Name to the home page?

            Thanks a lot!

      1. 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.

        1. 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!

          1. Hi Nathan,

            Needless to say how helpful your article was. As everyone said it was very helpful and indepth. I have few questions. What is the easiest ways to determine if the site is hit by panda. I mean if the drop is not very significant what should the first and foremost step to fix panda. Also what’s the healthy ratio of dofollow and dofollow links.

          2. Thank you sir.

            Panda penalties aren’t based on external signals such as backlinks. Penguin is. There are usually two ways to tell if your site is penalized: A) your traffic and organic visibility is slowly declining or B) your traffic drops off overnight

        2. 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. 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,

      1. You say to use real or made up names….so would mattress store houston be wrong then? When I do a search for my links, my name comes up the most….are you saying I should change it up or stay consistent?

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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. 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 🙂

    1. 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

      1. 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.

        1. 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

      2. 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?


        1. 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. 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?

    1. 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

      1. 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.

        1. 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

          1. 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?

          2. 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

          3. 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?


          4. 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. 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


        1. one more thought, all your rules for anchor text/ anchor text percentages, they also apply to inner pages.


  7. 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.


    1. Hi Jeremy,

      yes the anchor text rules are going to be the same no matter what property you’re building links to. You can be more aggressive when link building to web 2.0s and YouTube videos because they are established platforms.

      – Gotch

  8. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog entries and I won’t lie, I skim through most of them but you provide a whole heap of value.

        I’m commenting now just because you’ve shown how upstanding of a person you are by removing his keywords for him. I’m sure it’s a lesson he’ll never forget.

        You’re a good man Gotch! Keep up the great stuff, I’ll be tuning in more often.

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

    1. That’s one thing for sure, the other is putting all this info into action and actually see what happens as a lot of people here are already asking questions on their existing seo campaigns, no one said any results based on this yet one mentioned already doing the things said here except for one tip.

      Planning to put this into action and see what happens indeed. Keyword difficulty pretty much high.

      1. Thanks for the comment! Let me know how it goes! Don’t forget: anchor text is a small ranking factor. Simply manipulating anchors won’t guarantee improvements in the search engines. You need to look at the big picture.

  10. 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?

    1. 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. 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?

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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 ?

        1. 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. 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 ??

      1. 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 ??

          1. 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

          2. 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. 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. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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. 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 ????

    1. 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. 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. 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. 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

    1. 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.

      1. 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

          1. 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. 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. 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.

    1. 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. 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. 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. 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.

    1. 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. 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 🙂

    1. 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. 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. 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. Hello Gotch.

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

    Thank you very much!

  28. 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?

    1. 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

  29. Thanks! For very high quality links (such as guest post), don’t you think it’d be a waste using generic/bare URL?

    Thanks Gotch, great post btw!

    1. 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.

  30. 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 ?

      1. 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 ….

  31. 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?


    1. 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

  32. 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. 😀


  33. 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.

  34. 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.

    1. 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

      1. 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 ?

  35. 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!



  36. 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?

    1. 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

  37. 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.

  38. 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!

  39. 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 or I am afraid that using 40-50% brand name anchors can get penalty for main keyword: Internet Marketing. What do you think about it?

  40. 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.


  41. 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!

    1. 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

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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?

    1. 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 🙂

  45. 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

    1. 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!

      1. 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 🙂

        1. 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

  46. 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

  47. Really insightful post. I’ve not long launched my first website (just over a year ago) and never really thought too much about varying my anchor text. I suppose the way I post has always been quite natural, which in some ways may work in my favour, but it may have prevented me from ranking much higher. This has really opened my eyes about how anchor text can benefit my rankings – or completely ruin my website.

    Thanks for sharing and I’ll be sure to check back soon.

  48. Thanks for the post, very useful! One question, when you mention %1 exact match etc are you referring to referring domains or total backlinks for the percentages?

    Best regards

  49. Hi Nathan
    Im halfway through Your post but I can wait to ask this about:
    Section III
    Anchor Text Percentages
    Thing is Ive submited my website to directories, and for title I used long anchors, 5-7 words describing my service.
    It wasnt my intent becouse when I was submiting I didnt know so much about anchors, I was writting something that will describe service I offer so now I have 5 long anchors variatins (among other links ofcourse):
    1. Variation 9%
    2. Variation 5%
    3. Variation 2%
    4. Variation 2%
    5. Variation 2%
    (total 20%)

    Rest of links are:
    24 % Generic Anchors
    36% Naked Links
    4% no anchor
    16 % brand name

    I know its not all about anchor text, but also where they come from.
    I removed some of direcotry links and Im using ahrefs to check my links (I think links are still in ahrefs anchor cloud becouse of ahrefs “memory effect” when showing links) but anyway just by looking at my link profile as it is (never mind ahrefs “memory effect” ) what is Your advice?
    Im confused about Long Anchors and if google treat them as Exact Match Anchors?

    1. Filip,

      Thanks for the comment. It’s only an exact match anchor if it exactly matches the keyword in your title tag on-site. From what you’re describing, your “long” anchor will is really just a variation. In the future, you should only use branded anchor text for directory links and keep your keyword-based anchors for your most powerful links.

      – Gotch

  50. Hey Gotch!

    Awesome free content you have here Im learning a TON from this website. Quick question looking at my domain URL would you consider it a PMD or EMD? Also I noticed you put percentages to follow for EMD’s but what are the percentage guidelines to follow for a PMD like mine?

    1. Aaron,

      thanks for the comment and I’m really happy you’re learning from my content! As far as your domain name, it’s in-between an EMD and PMD because you’re technically targeting two different keywords within the URL. A PMD would have more filler words, so you’re domain is definitely leaning towards exact match. The percentages are going to be pretty much the same for both EMD and PMD because it’s very easy to over-optimize if you’re careful.

      – Gotch

  51. Hello, After reading your post, I am very glad that today i learn many things in Anchor Text, and hope it is very useful and apply same techniques which you taught in this Article…..
    You are doing an Awesome Job….
    Can you tell me one thing: How many Anchor Text Keyword’s with variances i can in keep in my home page and what is the percentage of that, I am also asking the inner Pages, Anchor Text Strategy. what is the percentage between home page and Inner pages Anchor Text. Please guide me as much as you Can..

    Many Thanks…

  52. Hey Nathan,

    thanks for this amazing guide! However I have a really specific question. In your articel you differntiate between EMDs and PMDs. Unfortunatley I could not find anything about the ankertext distribution for PMDs. For example I have a domain name like this:
    Now I want to rank for bobby car in general and also for bobby car test. However with a Partial Match Domain I should be careful that I do not overoptimize so I cannot just use a naked link since my domain contains bobbycar, is that correct? Now I wonder how you would distribute the ankertext for such a domain. Furthermore I wonder if I can also overoptimize when I use naked links quite often? I will have 2x Bobbycar in my Ankertext, does this matte or is this already overoptimized towards bobbycar?

    Could you please let me know how you would deal with such a specific case? Would you stick to the following ankertext distribution? Or would you decrease the precentage of naked links and increase the percentage of generic ankertext?

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

    Thanks for your help,


    1. Lukas,

      Thank you for the kind words.

      The anchor text percentages will resemble an EMD, so you’ll want to have high percentages of generic anchor text and naked links. This will keep you safe from over-optimization

  53. Hi Nathan,

    First of all, many thanks for this epic post!

    I’m writing up a press release to promote a new website. I’m using four links. One naked URL and one branded link to the home page.

    The other two links are for two separate internal pages. For these I was going to use exact keyword anchor text, but after reading your guide, I’ve changed my mind to brand + keyword anchor.

    As an example, with “blue widgets review” and “how to sell pink widgets” being the target keywords, the anchor texts would read “blue widgets review by” and “How to sell pink widgets article on”.

    Would you recommend this.

    Many thanks in advance.

    Sean O

  54. Thank you for the post. That’s a very good article. But still I have a question about anchor text, if you don’t mind.

    For example, I optimize my site for keyword “curling iron” and other synonyms like, “curly hair plate”, “professional curling iron”, “professional curly hair plate” “curly hair machine” “iron wave”, and so on, and all these keywords point to the same link address: Could I use three of these keywords as anchor text in an article with about 300 words? Could there be a problem using same link for different keywords in one article?

    I look forward to your reply in this regard.

    Thank you!

    1. Thanks for the comment Gabriel!

      You can definitely use those keywords as anchors, but I would create a unique article each time. Don’t link to the target page more than once from the same article, and you should consider using longer content for your backlinks. It makes a big difference.

  55. Is shared hosting ok for a private blog network? I’ve been debating between different packages and am I trying to identify the most cost efficient method. For example, if I’m building a PBN of 5 different blogs, would I choose 5 different hosting providers for all 5 of them and would these need dedicated ip’s? Or could I use one hosting package on a shared server with a reputable provider? Or for a third option could I create 5 different shared hosting packages with the same provider?

    Additionally, when it comes to building links to PBN’s should I follow the same rules as linking to my main site? Or can I use a tiered linking system with a network of web 2.0’s supported by tools like FCS Networker and GSA?

    I’d appreciate any advice you can provide as this is my first foray into SEO.

    1. Nick,

      Thanks for the comment! Yes, shared hosting is okay for ONE domain. You should have separate hosting for every domain in your network. You wouldn’t need dedicated IPs if you’re using new hosts every time because each one is going to give you a unique IP. As far as tier two links, you can follow the strategies in my post and you’ll increase the authority of your domains even further.

      – Gotch

      1. For simplicity I guess I was thinking of hosting all the blogs on the same provider such as bluehost or hostgator but creating a different hosting plan for each of them. Essentially paying for 5 different hosting plans but all under the same provider. Do you think this would cause issues? I’ve heard of issues with C blocks being heavily reused with certain hosts.

  56. Hi I wanted to get your feedback on this article at this site . The author is saying that you should avoid using bot blockers like Spyder Spanker or using robot.txt for your PBNs because doing so leaves a big footprint and then shows a simple process of how to find PBN sites that are using bot blockers saying that with this reverse engineering anyone could uncover a person’s whole network of PBN’s this way. He’s saying that the bot blockers put your PBN at risk and makes them an easy target for Google. What are your thoughts about the things he brings up in his article? If you don’t have a bot blocker then your site will show up in Ahrefs, Majestic SEO, etc. In light of the issues he raises, what do you suggest?

    1. Hi Michael, I actually agree with him. Anything that causes a footprint could compromise your network. If you create quality niche relevant network sites, then your competitors won’t even be able to tell the difference. If you want to throw off your competition, then just block 50% of your sites and leave the blocker off the other 50%, but make them premium quality.

      – Gotch

  57. Hey Nathan
    thank you for this amazing guide. I have a really specific question.

    I have two sites that had been penalized almost a year ago. I never found any messages in the webmaster’s area so I can only guess it was an algorithm triggered penalty. When those sites got penalized my first reaction was to delete the 2 domains (PBN) that had all off the 25,000+ exact match backlinks pointing to these sites but then I decided it wasn’t worth to wait for the ban to be lifted so I went ahead and made a third one to start fresh but with a more careful strategy. My third site is currently at the bottom places of page1 results for my targeted keywords in a very competitive niche.

    It’s now 3-4 days that the two first sites that had been penalized are back on the serps at pages 3 and 4 for the same targeted keywords (all three sites are of the same niche) so I suppose the ban has finally been lifted. What do you advice me to do?

    a) 301 redirect the two old sites to the new one
    b) place 2 or 3 naked anchor links on each one of the old sites pointing to the new
    c) place 2 or 3 naked anchor NoFollow links on each one of the old sites pointing to the new
    d) do nothing as they may put the new site in trouble.

    Thanking you in advance,

  58. Nathan, the title didn’t disappoint for sure! I’ve read a lot of articles on anchor text over the years, your’s is by FAR the best. Appreciate all the hard work and time you put into this one. It’s actually my first time here. Taken a lot away from your article. Impressive!!

      1. In your 9 link rotation breakdown, that looks like it is repeating a pattern that is more or less equally distributed vs matching up to the ratios you specified earlier?

  59. I just had to say that this a a great article. I have a website that while, it ranks “ok” it just never seems to get into the top 3 and I am thinking that the information you have here will help me fix that.

    thanks for sharing

  60. hi,
    is the guidelines in this article applicable for internal-linking? the web site that i responsible for in company take account on internal linking. for example is it OK to use branded anchor link about 50 percent in a page?

  61. Hi Nathan Gotch

    I always read your each blog very carefully and can know something new. I have a SEO firm and working for some of my clients. I always do implementation of your strategies for each of my client. But I have a question to know and the question is:

    How can i get power link is not clear to me ? Could you show some sample links and the exact way to get power link ?


  62. Absolutely great article. 2 questions:
    1) Any tools/services you’d suggest for anchor text diluting? I’ve used Social Adr, but maybe there’s anything better?
    2) Any press release service you’d recommend?

  63. Hi,

    I have couple question that confused me;

    -Manual link building is doing everything by yourself right? (Not using any tool)
    That is what you’re doing right? But if you’re doing everything by yourself how are you enable to make it like this:


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

    Making something like this is possible with GSA SER, but manual?? Because you said you’re not using GSA SER for tier one right?

    – Is it okay to use for tier one Web 2.0 / Wiki’s

    – Do you need to have 100+ tier one links or can it also be maybe 10+ high-/quality links?

    Sorry I’m dutch it’s possible that you already answered all those question in your article but it takes some time to really understand it.

    Thanks for making this great article.

    1. Mark,

      Thank you for the comment. All of the link building we do is manual and we’re able to keep the percentages accurate because we keep track of our anchor text distribution. We don’t build a ton of links, so it’s very easy to keep track. Using GSA on tier one is a death wish and it’s way better to use RELEVANT and authoritative links over hundreds of low-quality / easy-to-acquire backlinks. Let me know if you have any other questions Mark

  64. What a great article about anchor text. I just bookmarked it. Anchor text is surely a key point in article optimization and ranking.


  65. Gotch,
    Thanks for your blog and I’m reading this for may be fifth time to understand all of it 🙂
    3 questions:
    1. You mentioned about 100 back links is enough for low-medium niche. Does it include just the Power Links or all inclusive?
    2. How many times it is okay to link from the same source? If one per source, I would need 100 sources – just making sure.
    3. Is it okay to use automatic tools ( Ulitmate Demon, GSA Ranker ) etc?
    Appreciate your answer.

    1. Zee,

      Thanks for the comment.

      1. Every niche is different and it also depends on the quality of the links you’re acquiring. Higher quality and relevancy = less quantity need
      2. You typically don’t want more than 3 or so links from the same IP / domain because it will dilute the effectiveness.
      3. They can help you on the tier two and tier three level if you know how to use them. Just be smart and test your strategies on a dummy site first

  66. Wow, I am impressed. This is truly exhaustive. I just wrote a guide about link attributes. I was going to do a long section on the penguin update and how it affected link anchors but I found your guide and realised there was no way I could match this. I also shared this on my twitter. Kudos this guide must have taken a long time to write.

  67. Hi Nathan,

    Just discovered your blog and I’m amazed by the info I can learn here. Your anchor text post is the best I’ve found anywhere on the web. I’ll be tuning in from now on.



  68. Hi Gotch, fantastic article! I’ve read it several times and will probably read it a few more 🙂

    I’ve got a question about one of the things you talked about in the area of keyword dilution. I have a new site (about a month old) that I set up unknowingly the old school way (7 articles around a topic, where 4 of the articles are all built and keyworded around the same product name, ie Article 1 “product name”, Article 2 “product name review”, Article 3 “product name ebook”, Article 4 “product name pdf”) So now I know this is the wrong approach but how should I fix it without angering the mighty G? Is it safe to just 301 redirect each of the 3 product name articles back to the main product name article or should I remove the 3 articles (they’ve been indexed) all together?

    Thanks so much!

  69. Epic article, i don’t think there will be an article of this sort ever published to describe Anchor Text, this article can teach about Anchor Text to a toddler!

      1. HI Nathan,

        Thank you for providing such clear, concise, and actual to do marketing tips. I really appreciate it. I am curious regarding your thoughts on why your blog post all start with a content section. I guess my take is that you do it for two reason but could be wrong.

        1) Obviously the content section is very valuable for your readers and allows them to navigate through your blog post. So it adds tremendous value to readers.
        2) From an internal linking standpoint this helps you in a number of ways. From creating high quality relevant internal links.

        Those are my thoughts and I might be over thinking this but I would love to hear your view on the question.


  70. Hi Nathan,
    First I’m a huge fan and this article is amazing!
    I have 2 questions please
    1. how come some sites get away with over 30% and sometimes 50% exact match keyword on non EMD domain?
    2. do you think this diversification should be used for building external linking to inner pages like product or category page or I can use more exact matches?

    Thanks a Lot!

    1. Hi Tommy,

      Thank you for the comment

      1. Sites get away with all kinds of things they shouldn’t, but that’s the game. Using 50% EMD anchor text is asking for a Penguin penalty.
      2. Using exact match anchor on internal links are fine, but it doesn’t hurt to diversify

  71. Hi Nathan, awesome information !

    1. I have a question about the Exact Match anchor ! Like you said : we need to use only once to rank and Partial Match, LSI around 5% this sound good but now let’s go back to what another persons said to don’t optimize any anchor text : ” don’t optimize anchor texts. I’ve seen optimized anchor texts ruin a site’s SEO through gradual algorithmic penalization.” They said to use only Naked anchor and Branded anchors ! What do you think ?

    2. I also have another question : where we will need to use the exact match anchor ? Will be good if I will use on a WEB2.0 ? You said isn’t good to use on a GUEST POST but will be good to use on a PBN link, why ? Guest posts are the same with PBN the difference is the PBN are private and guest posts are public ! So please tell me where I will need to use this exact match anchor because I’m thinking to buy some powerfull guest posts and I don’t know what to do with exact match anchor !

    3. I have another question but will be more good if I will give to you an example : let’s say I will have 25 powerfull GUEST POSTS and 20 WEB2.0 (where I will add TIER 2), so in total 45 links. What you will do ? You will use the all links with LSI,PARTIAL MATCH and 1 or 2 with exact match anchor and then will do the diversity anchor text with some directories , social bookmarks etc or you will use only 6 from this links (1 exact match, 5 LSI,PARTIAL MATCH) ? I want to say you will won’t lose your power if you will make the 39 links with BRAND,NAKED,GENERIC ?

    What you will do in this case with all 45 links? If you have another suggestion I will be happy to listen you !

    Thank you 🙂

  72. I already do most of them but link through image without anchor is great idea. If i have Brand Name Ali Recover Reading and my keyword is Recovery Reading it it good or bad idea to have ALI RECOVERY READING as anchor text 30% ?

  73. Hi Nathan, thanks as always for the great content. Two quick questions – I am following your suggestion with press release distrib for anchor text diversity. Do you have a recommended provider (fiverr or elsewhere) for press release submission? Also, I am trying to get some links in my niche (tattoo removal/beauty) – do you have a reputable link broker you can recommend? Rick

  74. I have a question that’s a little off topic but I can’t seem to find an answer anywhere.

    I recently took over a site which the previous webmaster had created thousands of links to using his other clients websites. They are all irrelevant sites so I’m worried that they could be hurting rankings. The problem is, there are so few legitimate links to the site, I’m worried removing these thousands of links could be dangerous. To give you an idea of numbers, in webmaster tools I found about 6500 links from his irrelevant sites that I could get removed easily, about 5000 from other random sketchy looking sites and only about 600 legitimate links. Should I have the 6500 removed? The site is doing pretty well traffic-wise, but maybe it could be doing better without them? What else can I do to fix this?


    1. Hi Courtney,

      Thanks for the comment! In all honesty, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Have the link set on tap, so that IF the site is hit, you can quickly recover. You should consider how you would get the links removed in a worse case scenario. But if the site is currently performing well, don’t start removing links.

  75. Great Content 🙂 Simply Amazing . Thanks a lot for such great work !
    One small Question – I have my Website- for certain keywords it ranks well in US on Yahoo and Bing on first page but on 5th page in UK for same keywords and It do not rank at all on Google for same keywords . I have good local presence like Gplus and directories presence still this happens . Any Suggestions ?

    1. Thank you Ale!

      If you’re ranking well in Yahoo and Bing, but not Google, there’s a good chance your link profile isn’t high quality. I need more details about the links you’ve used to help you 🙂

  76. Hey Nathan, I was wondering If I used a Press Release service and get about 1-300 links with my URL since im using an EMD I didn’t use brand keyword. I was wondering after that is using some dofollow manual blog comments for my Generic keywords seem ok? I was gonna use my personal PBN for my money keywords but im kinda confused like how to keep my exact match keywords at like 1% any advice? Also im not sure what kinds of links to build for my LSI keywords? Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for the comment. Press releases with unoptimized anchor text are fine, but I wouldn’t use DoFollow blog comments on tier one. Personally, we use business citations and social platforms to build quality unoptimized links

  77. Great article and useful to lots of people I’m sure. Everyone has there own idea’s about seo but it’s 100% true you cannot get away from anchor text diversity. Much needed.

  78. Amazing article !
    The situation I am in is a bit particular, and I would have loved how you would handle anchor text startegy in my case:
    My main website is my company, and several products get user friendly domain aliases redirected to my brand: –> 301 –> –> 301 –>

    Can I take profit of such a configuration to add diversity ? How do you think google will handle naked links on / compared to ?

  79. Nathan,
    Just wanted to say a big thank you for this anchor text article. Hands down the best article I’ve ever found on the “right” link building strategies a sit owner should be using. Thanks again.

  80. Read till section 4 and must say amazing work Nathon…

    I just have a small question :- PBN from sites which were de-indexed for some time vs from sites which weren’t like Auction. Hold the same strength, plus both have quality link profile…?

  81. GREAT STUFF Nathan! Quick question, if you had a website and its homepage is basically all about the brand, while its subpages are targeting different keyword. How would your link building and anchor text strategy be? I mean will you focus more on sending branded anchor links to the homepage which eventually shifts the juice to subpages?

    1. Thank you Mark!

      The majority of your anchors going to the homepage should be branded. You can internally link from the homepage with exact match anchor to your internal pages. This will flow link equity

  82. Hey dude, love this article! I’ve been going through your blog and its epic as hell.

    I was wondering how you deal with city landing pages. Do you adhere to the same anchor text percentages for the page itself?

    I’m currently working on ranking a landing page for a major city for a client, and I realize I’ve been too aggressive with the partial match anchors. So I’m sending more branded anchors in for the next month for the client and saving the partial anchor texts for editorial links which I’ve been purchasing, and will continue doing so since they work really well.

    One thing I struggle with is anchor diversity on city landing pages. Since its pretty much a landing page, its hard to get natural links for, and directories typically want you to to link to the homepage. Blog comments link work but they’re pretty much dofollow, and I think it looks a bit suspicious if most of your nofollow links are generic, but the dofollow links are partial matches. I’m thinking web 2.0s and profile links are basically the major options I have.

    1. Thank you so much!

      I diversify my anchors on a page-by-page basis. PBN links are definitely a good options for city landing pages. You should also link to the city landing pages from the homepage to send link equity, which will make ranking easier

  83. Hey Nathan! GREAT Article. I have been building niche websites for about 9 months now and have been slowly ranking them on Google.

    I have a few EMDs… you are the FIRST to point this error out to me. Like my keyword is “productgrowfaster” and my domain is “learnhowtoproductgrowfaster” Would that be considered an EMD or PMD? If so I am over optimized with brand/exact/broad keyword anchor text. From what I read it sounds like it’s okay to change some of those brand/exact/broad keyword anchor texts on my PBNs to a URL/Generic anchor text to correct my anchor text profile? That doesn’t raise a red flag??

    It also sounds like I have keyword dilution! I have my homepage targeting “Product Name” then my 2nd page targeting “ProductName” and my 3rd page targeting “Buy Product Name.” I have actually been sitting on spot 11 for ALL of those keyterms for a month of so. I have been adding brand/generic links to my PBNs over the past few weeks but haven’t see a budge yet. How would you correct this?

    Thank you in advance! This article has been the BEST and most helpful article I have read yet regarding anchor text profile.

    1. Lindsay,

      Thanks for the comment!

      That would be considered a PMD. You can change anchor text, but I wouldn’t do it in bulk because it can definitely be a footprint. You definatiely have keyword dilution if you’ve created pages for each variation of the keyword. Redirect the others to the page that’s performing the best and modify the META information to encompass “buy” and other LSI keywords.

      1. Hi Nathan,

        I just wondering what happened if we change all anchor text at our PBNs? You said that it definitely be a footprint. The question is what google will took actions? de-index our PBN or our money site will get penalty?

  84. Hi,

    Tks for this wonderful post.

    I want to build Tier 1 with Web 2.0, What’s anchor ratios you suggest ?
    Should I put link to the money site in every article ?
    how many links to the money site I can make to every article ?

  85. Fantastic article on anchor text. I use them often but going to adjust my strategy after reading this. One of the more helpful articles on SEO I’ve read in a long time. Thanks so much for the obvious effort you put into writing it! Much appreciated

  86. This may have been stated but I cannot see it….
    Any percentages/ratio of links to the root of a domain vs the rest of the domain…

  87. I have a site that recovered after doing a disavow of all spammy directories. I once used software to spam directories, which triggered the penguin algorithm. My question now is whether I can start building keyword-rich anchors again (at a low frequency, of course)? Or, does the spammy anchor text profile remain – even though the actual backlinks have been disavowed?

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for the comment. Keep in mind, although you disavowed the directories, those links still exist. If you went out and got those links removed, I could without certainty say that you can start using keyword-rich anchors. HOWEVER, for your particular situation, you should really focus on building a strong branded anchor text profile. Like 80-90% branded anchors before even thinking about using keywords in your anchors. This will build trust for your site

      1. Thanks for your response – highly appreciated! Also, just wondering about the excel file you provided – does each link in the first column correspond to a different domain? How would I input links that have my site on several inner pages of their site?

  88. Hi Nathan,

    Thanks for this article. Actually I landed on this article because I was looking for information about anchors when commenting on blogs because I feel it’s very spammy when people put keywords or the name of their website as anchors. But I was wondering if it’s good to always put my firstname as anchor when commenting on blogs. What’s your take on that ? I see here you anchored your twitter account, do you alternate between your twitter account and ?

    1. Hi Emile,

      Thanks for the comment! It’s definitely spammy. First name or first and last name are both fine. It really depends on how you want to brand yourself. I’ve branded myself as “Gotch” and that’s what I’ve been called on sports team. I don’t link to Gotch SEO on my own site because it’s unnecessary. I would rather expand my presence on a different platform. However, when I comment on other blogs I always link back to Gotch SEO or my blog

      1. Thanks for the reply.
        If I understand this correctly, because Google prefers to have around 50% of branded anchors it’s better to brand yourself Nathan Gotch than Nathan SEO, as Nathan Gotch would create a kind of a partial brand anchor, whereas Nathan SEO would be more of a partial Keyword anchor?

  89. Thanks for the reply.
    If I understand this correctly, because Google prefers to have around 50% of branded anchors it’s better to brand yourself Nathan Gotch than Nathan SEO, as Nathan Gotch would create a kind of a partial brand anchor, whereas Nathan SEO would be more of a partial Keyword anchor?

  90. Hi mr.gotch,I read your anchor text article thoroughly.It’s simply superb.And i have a crucial doubt regarding this article.It is :
    the exact match anchor text percentage that you are saying is, with regarding to whole site’s percentage or of that page?
    i analyzed something after this.for the keyword “anchor text” there is a tough competition going on.And i took this for a case study.I analyzed backlinks and their anchor texts using openlinkprofile tools.The sites moz,wordstream has very high percentages of Exact match anchor texts for that page and when compared to whole site’s anchor text profile that’s not at all considered.Here am talking about only that page’s link profile.
    moz and wordstream have 40-50% exact match anchor text whereas you , gotchseo has rarely 6% which is ethical and whitehat according to your article.But how can you outrank them?Plz help me out of this.Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for the comment! It’s on a page-by-page basis. Those sites are super authorities, so they can get away with over-optimization. In actuality, my exact match anchor text percentage for this article is less than 1%. The tools don’t always tell the full story.

  91. Can’t tell you how much I learned from your post 🙂 I really thank you a lot Nathan! You have put in a lot of hard work for this post and it shows 🙂

  92. Hi Nathan, Great article!

    I’m not sure if this ever happens to your client’s sites, but in some instances, no matter how many times we diversify our anchors to be as safe as possible, Google plays their little trick where they temporarily drop half or on some occasions all the rankings.

    If you remove or change your anchors after the sudden rank drop, then you failed the test. I fell into that trap back in the days, but after reading their patents, it turns they do it on purpose to test the legitimacy of the links.

    1. Hi Khaled,

      Yes, this is the Google dance. It can definitely freak you out / freak your client’s out. You’re totally right about them testing the legitimacy of your links.

  93. Hey Nathan,

    In section III of your article, you mention that “LSI, Partial Match Anchors” should be 1-5%. But in your excel file there are already 8 occurrences of Partial Match Anchors (green) within 30 links – that would come out to 25% if you were to continue at such a frequency!

    Did I miss something?

  94. Also, one more question along that line. How do you go about choosing your Partial Match Anchors – do you make them up by adding generic content “cool article about anchor text” or do you use them as an opportunity to target long tail keywords “bold anchor text”?


  95. Hi Natan,
    Love this article. I read it once a weak cause its a lot to take.
    I have a question please..
    Does nofollow exact match count?
    and how should I treat disavowed exact match anchor text links?
    Thanks a lot!

    1. Tommy,

      Thanks for the comment!

      Only a very small amount (if any) link equity flows through a NoFollowed link. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean you should go out and spam them. Treat your anchor text the same regardless of whether it’s nofollow or not.

  96. Hey Nathan,

    I have to say, I’ve been reading a lot of this stuff lately and this has got to be the best article I’ve come across by far. Gonna bookmark your site right now – keep up the great work!

  97. People tend to ignore naked anchors because they want a quick shortcut to rankings. Naked anchors are the best method to gaining a natural anchor profile. Great read, Nathan.

  98. great write up by the way, one thing i came here to get the answer on but couldn’t find was what sort of ratio of links should go to your home page, key categories, products and articles pages.

    Say for example you had an “antique record store”, so that and variations of it was your main keywords your chasing, then you had categories like, vinyl, tapes, CD’s, country, rock. Follow by product pages like the beatles, Elvis, The who and so on, with the blog to match, the onsite help pages and articles the full whack!!!

    Still you want the majority of people to land on your home pages as thats the money, you’ll do a little niche linking for the better/choice products “elvis, bluesuade shoes original vinyl”

    but across the board you dont want to have every link to your home page, whats the break down?? is it reason able to have 50% of a sites links to its how page for example??

    1. Hi Andy,

      Thanks for the comment! There is no perfect ratio of links to the homepage and to internal pages, but a general ratio is 50/50 split. You still want links going to the homepage so you can send link equity from the top down.

  99. Excellent article ! one question : 1 of my page seems to have been penalized but not the other pages, i think from over optimized anchors, 3 out of 5 keywords have dropped sharply, main keyword lost 40 spots from 20 to 60.What do you think it means when only some keywords are affected ?

  100. Hi there, great read !!
    If i got an inner page penalized from over optimized anchors which i was trying to rank for main keyword, can i re-focus on Home page to target main keyword ? maybe 301 the penalized one since hp has mainly branded and naked url anchors, that could even out the bad ratio !? what do you think ? Thanks very much and keep up the good writing, a pleasure to read !

    1. Hi Fred,

      Thanks for the comment. Keep in the mind that anchor text distribution is judged on a page-by-page basis. You need to fix over-optimization issues before trying to optimize again

  101. Hey Nathan,

    keep providing unique and intelligent post for future of seo. There is no way to find out the best guide without your that will be penguin safe. I want to ask a question about keyword research. Please tell me how to make a good demo of keyword research for showing clients…if you share a full screenshot it will better for understand.

  102. Awesome write up. Took me a while to get through it all but definitely a conclusive article. Must have taken you a long time to test all these things especially the anchor text percentages.

  103. Hi Nathan, Great article. I’ve built my website 2 years ago and have some good rankings but have done no link building at all. I’d like to give my site a bit of a push so will be following some of your advice in your excellent article. I have one question. When doing external linking do you always link back to the homepage when using the branded anchor text or can you put any url from your website in as the destination? I obviously have a main term that my whole website is going for and the home page is optimised for that term, but I have other pages with different terms I’m also looking to rank for. Do I link to those ones separately using brand or naked links? I’m a bit confused. Hope that makes sense.

      1. Hi Nathan, I still don’t understand!
        so lets say my site is, my keyword for home page is Chicken Farms. So I create a backlink with is the place to find chicken farms, that i understand. If I create another backlink for another page, say it’s called chicken egg colours with keyword of chicken eggs, what should my backlink look like? would it be is the place to find chicken eggs, with the underlying url going to the chicken eggs page for the anchor text or do I make the branded anchor text the same as the full destination URL.

        1. Hi Neil,

          Thanks for the comment! I’m going to be totally honest with you – you’re overthinking it. I highly recommend you re-read the middle part of this article. It will help you a lot. If you’re still struggling please send me an email

  104. You’re welcome. I saw too late that you have posted there already – as the first one. Excellent. But I think that this case study supports your own research very well, so I posted it here. I always believe that as more we can get hands on to quality research from various parties, so better.

  105. Absolutely wonderful and truly exhaustive article – a piece of reference indeed!
    I am having a 10 years old site which was doing amazing, but of course, over the last year is started to rank worse… I am fearing that the backlinks are the culprit, so now I am analyzing one by one.
    What should we do with old free directories (not paid), which have “legal” back links (different anchors). But some of them are just abandoned or kept for AdSense?? The majority are not having more than PageRank of 2 on the homepage.
    This would be the question: to disavow it or now?
    We are applying meanwhile other techniques too, like dilution, etc.

    I would highly appreciate your help and advice!

    1. Simona,

      Thanks for the comment! It depends on the anchor text you used for the directories. Directories are devalued and can be hurting your link profile in general (if you have a high percentage of them).

  106. Hi Gotch,
    I really enjoyed the article. This is by far the best anchor text guide I’ve ever read on the internet. This has really increased my SEO knowledge 10 times and I really appreciate your time and effort writing it and also putting it in a way someone like me can understand. I will be using these strategies on my website to dilute my anchor profile using web 2.0’s since I’m kind of.. over-optimized.

    Once again, thank you and I also enjoyed reading your other article about Manual web 2.0 creation.

  107. Hi Nathan,

    Been following your many great article, you are such a genius person.
    After half way on my journey build tier 2 and try to apply your anchortext Percentages.
    Naked for 40%, did i using my money site naked keyword or my tier 1 naked keyword? im sorry for noob question, hope this never been discuss in past comment.

    1. Erik,

      Thanks for the comment and the kind words!

      That’s a good question.

      The naked link anchors on tier two would be the URLs from the tier one links. The only time you use your money site URL as an anchor is when you are linking directly to it (tier one). Please let me know if that makes sense.

  108. Hi,

    This one was really an eye opener for a newbie like me. I even requested a resubmission of keywords for a $99 SEO package that I bought from a forum two days back. Added some generic and naked keyword. Thanks, man!

  109. Gees, good effort! Half way through and a real eye opener, bookmarked and coming back for the second half after lunch. 🙂 Thanks for taking the time out to provide such great content free.

  110. Hello mr gotch
    Just wanna say thanks for this article, on my 1st reading this article, only 50% i can understand, i believe i need read 10 times again and practice to my site.
    Well that just i want to say, good luck and thanks again. 🙂

  111. Honestly, this is one of the best and comprehensive guides on freaking Earth about Anchor Text. The concepts of co-occurrence and co-citation were a little bit tricky but I got the hang of it. The best thing about this guide is that you showed a practical approach of keeping the things safe.

    I strongly agree that less percentage of exact match anchor will make it more powerful. Plus, it’s a common myth that article directories have become useless while they’re a great source of diversifying link profiles.

  112. Nathan, what an amazing article. It pretty much explains the best practices and tactics to be used to build backlinks without leaving a footprint. I myself as an SEO agency owner, always on the lookout for the best formula to build up our clients offpage factors without risking a penalty. I would like to add to this something I found to be very crucial which is the frequency with which you build backlinks and this is mainly connected to different factors as for example the domain age, the platforms and kind of websites that link to you etc My approach is always to look at what the competition is doing and try to use our experience and background to find the right link velocity, resources etc Again great job with this article 🙂

  113. Great Article, it’s my second time reading this particular article just to really understand. Quick question, what if i’m running a Clickbank review website and am trying to rank a POST lets say on. Example: “how to be a man” do you still recommend a branded anchor text or and exact match anchor text?

    kind regards,

  114. That was great, i have succensfully SEO’d my own fencing company in perth, and back in the day it was number 1 for yrs, but as i got busy fencing and not really updateing my site and just going through the motion of building regular links from business directories, and a few good ones from similar businesses. i noticed my rank was dropping just slightly over the last few years, when my website is still very informative and much more informative than some of my competitors. even using CTLD mainly backlinks and was still loosing spots to people with less links and less information for that matter….
    However my fencing company is so versatile and i relise how non computer people use searches i ranks for something like 40 keywords still generating 1800 hits a month..
    Anyway thanks mate i have a fair understanding of SEO over the years of self teaching i even have 3 of my own clients on the side, taking away the information you’ve explained is going to help in so many ways.
    it was interesting and to me it made perfect sence, there is no way spam backlinks couldve ruled rankings, otherwise there is nothing else for SEO to do other than spam, but this is cool

  115. Really, nice guide for Anchor text. I think, Infographics are the best way to get Branded Link Building.. and I am going to start it, What do you think, will they really help me? ANy Suggestion?

  116. Nathan,

    This has gotch (see what I did there) to be the best site I’ve found on SEO tactics – and I’ve seen a lot.

    Congrats on a wonderful site.

  117. Thanks Nathan for such a comprehensive article. I have a question. One of my article has ranked well for certain keywords but after collecting all the keywords from Google Webmaster Tools. I found out that 3 of the keywords have the highest searches in Google, but none of my backlink has anchor text for that. I am planning to build some high quality backlinks for it. My question is, is it advisable to use the anchor text in an article from authority blogs. My link profile has several other and similar anchor text but the 3 particular anchor texts have no backlinks. Is it advisable to use them now?

    Once again thank you.

  118. Hey man

    thanks for the article. I have one question (BTW the social icons in the sidebar make commenting a bit difficult. But so many comments as you have prove that usability is not that important when people like something. They will come anyway)
    ok, question:
    you write:
    Partial Match Anchors: 1-5%
    Branded Anchor Text: 70%
    LSI, Partial Match Anchors: 1-5%

    How about branded partial match anchors? Let’s say keyword is = SEO St. Louis
    What percentage would be acceptable for “Gotch SEO St. Louis” as anchor?
    It is a branded anchor, so 70%? Or Partial Match Anchors: 1-5% ??

    1. Hi Claude,

      Yes, my new site is in development now to fix issues like that!

      I would place branded partial match in the same category as general partial match anchors. So 1-5% if safe

  119. Awesome, very informative, and definitely very detailed write up about anchor text. I don’t think there any other article this detailed.

    Unfortunately, i should have read this two years ago but didn’t. My site is stuck on oage 2-5 due to over optimized exact match anchors like 40%. I should just buy another domain and start over but I think I have a chance since reading your article.

    I’n yhe last two weeks I’ve done a couple of things you suggested to dilute the anchors.

    1. How fast can I dilute it? Let’s say I go to Fiverr and buy 2000 social bookmarks naked / branded anchors?

    2. How bad would it be if I dilute it all in one month…6000 naked / branded anchor links? What would happen?

    3. I have 50 pbn but only 20 are pointing to it now. It made gains to where it is now. Since i have 50 pbn, should I just disavow the exact match anchor link’s? It will be replace by another 30 good contextual branded linns anyways.

    Your thoughts please?

    1. Hi friend,

      Thanks for the comment.

      Sorry to hear about your troubles!

      1. I don’t recommend hitting your site directly with Fiverr links. Although this may dilute your anchor text it will decrease the overall quality of your link profile.
      2. That’s pretty aggressive/unnecessary. If you have to go to those lengths, then you would likely be better off with a new domain
      3. It would be ideal to get the exact match anchors removed. Disavowing likely won’t help

      Sorry to be a downer 🙁

  120. Hi Nathan,

    First of all I would like to thank you for this awesome article about anchor text.

    My situation: We are webdesigners. And in the bottom of every website for a client we put there a link in threw our website. To let people know we made that website. And especially the anchor text ‘Webdesign bureau’ (it’s Dutch). That anchor is linking threw a landing page, named ‘Webdesign bureau’. But the percentage in Majestic of that landing page, shows a 33% with the anchor ‘Webdesign bureau’. So in our opinion that’s a way to much.
    Now we would like to change that anchor texts to put the 33% back down to 15%. What would you advise of how to do this? So for example to don’t bulk it? Etc.

    How would you do this? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Thomas,

      Thanks for the comment!

      The only options you really have are to either unoptimize some of the anchors or add additional sitewide links on other client sites – this will dilute the anchor text. Either way, you need to increase the amount of branded anchor text in your profile.

  121. Awesome article! Very compelling guide I ever read!

    Question #1: Can I do the cycling on my web 2.0 posts? What I mean is that, I am planning to make 1 post per day following your cycling site#2. I have read the limitation 1~3 backlinks. Does this method will lift the limits?

    I want to apply this on my tier 1 to rank my money site that has AdSense and Affiliate.

    Question #2: This just comes to my mind after reading the whole article. Just a wild idea. What if I am going to buy a massive backlinking service using the cycling site#2 method with many variations like spinning, do you think is it gonna work?

    Thank you.

    1. Jose,

      Thanks for the comment!

      Question #1: the 1-3 outbound link limitation on web 2.0s doesn’t change regardless of what anchor text you use. The anchor text cycling can be done with any link type

      Question #2: I don’t recommend any type of “massive” backlinking service

      1. Thank you for the reply. Every web 2.0 outbound limitation is 1~3 and that means (as my last question), do I need to create another web 2.0 or a set of web 2.0 to produce another set of 1~3 backlinks and at least 1 pointing to the same the domain?

  122. Hi Nathan!
    I’m a big fan..(Read all your posts)
    One question please..

    So basically I am screwed if I have no-follow exact match and/or disavowed exact match which I can’t remove?

    1. Hi Tommy,

      Thanks for the comment! No, you’re not screwed. It would just be ideal if you could get the bulk of those links removed. If you can’t, then use disavow. You will need to increase the percentage of quality backlinks in your profile to dilute the bad ones

  123. Great post indeed Nathan,

    I do have one question. What should be the ratio or percentage of variation of keyword in anchor text. I mean my targeted keyword is “Dubai Tour Packages” and if I build links with the anchor texts like “Best Dubai Tour Packages”, “Dubai Tour Packages from New York”, “Available Dubai Packages”

    waiting for your reply.

  124. Hey Nathan, I just wanted to say that I really like your in-depth articles, I find them very useful so thank you!
    Just a quick question: What’s your opinion on using different ips (proxies) when creating tier 1 web 2.0s? I read somewhere that it’s ideal to hide my footprints this way as I being too paranoid? 😀 Keep up the good work!

  125. Hi, i’ve read through your article. Due to my bad English and limited knowledge,
    there’s some confusion for me regarding LSI Anchors.

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

    “what is link building” <– does it mean this whole sentence will be the anchor text?
    Isn't it risky since the target keyword "link building" is in it?

    I'm very interested about what anchors text can help with backlinks,
    does it helps even with a comment on youtube? or any forums site or blog?
    Not sure if comment helps in seo though

    Thanks Gotch 🙂

    1. Dylan,

      Thanks for the comment.

      Yes, the whole phrase “what is link building” would be the anchor. It is a variation of the keyword. As long as your percentages of LSI and exact match anchors are low you want have any trouble. Just follow the distribution model I explained

  126. Hi Nathan,

    Another awesome article, and invaluable for avoiding Big G’s Banhammer! I did have a question though regarding press releases – namely, do you have a preferred press release platform/channel? Thanks again, and keep up the awesome!

  127. Hello Nathan, first of all congrats for the quality of your content.
    I have a question regarding non-english language keywords… not sure if you have experience with that but here it goes: if I write a guest article in english, contextually related to a non-english keyword (same niche of course), and use a naked url as an anchor to the non-english website, do the search engines recognize that the anchor is surrounded by contextually relevant text, and rate it accordingly?

    1. Nick,

      Thanks for the comment! Google can translate content, so the contextual relevancy should still be valid. Of course, it’s hard to say that with 100% certainty because no one knows how Google would assign relevancy in that situation. In an ideal world, it wouldn’t matter since the algorithm can translate

  128. Thank you Nathan for a remarkably articulate and comprehensive article.

    I do have one a doubt however when it comes to always having such a high % of brand anchor text for sites that promote the services of an unkown individual – like a lawyer for example.

    Consider the following: Let’s say our lawyer is called David Smith , and his website has a page optimised for the primary keyword “DUI Lawyer London”. As David Smith is not a publicly recognised name, would it not be “unnatural” to have about half his anchor text as “David Smith”?

    1. Thanks for the comment Ray!

      No, it is never unnatural to use branded anchor text. Every website starts off as “unknown”. It’s unnatural to pound a website with the same keyword-rich anchor text. No one has ever been penalized for too many branded anchors 🙂

  129. Thank you for your very concise and informative page Nathan.
    Could you please provide examples of which types of sites you would recommend posting exact match anchor back links?

    I know these have to be very high quality/ranking sites, however could you use an exact match anchor text on a respected and highly-ranked niche related blog?

    I’m in the process of having a new website built, and would like to target the first back link as an exact match, then just focus on generic, branded and non-optimised links thereafter.

    Thank you.


  130. My question is if I post a blog article on Tumblr or other social media sites and use some anchor text links pointing back to different pages on my website, are they nofollow or dofollow? I’m very familar with SEO but haven’t seen anything on the internet to say otherwise about my question.

  131. Thank You for the insight of this article. I think I have read it five times. The piece on Anchor Text cycling is awesome! I have begin to incorporate your strategies in my Seo.

  132. I stumbled onto your site a couple months ago and just as I’m searching for some anchor text info… there you are again. I have to say THANKS for this! Also, I’m adding you to my Feedly feed… thanks again!

  133. Another gret post from Nathan Gotch. Thank you man.
    I want to ask you for your opinion about anochor text of links to internal pages.
    For example if your main keyword on homepage is: Blue Widgets in USA
    and you have internal pages targeting keyword in cities , like: Blue Widgets in Chicago, Blue Widgets in New York…
    Lets say you decide to build links to this internal pages and have some links with anchor: Blue Widgets in New York.
    My question is: do you think that anchor text to internal page: Blue Widgets in New York , we be counted from Google as partial anchor match to your homepage main keyword: Blue Widgets in USA?
    In short – do you think that too many links to internal pages with anchor like this: Blue Widgets in Chicago, Blue Widgets in New York, will lead to a penalty for the maian keyword: Blue Widgets in USA?

      1. Hi Nathan,

        I didn’t asked the question the right way. What I meant is:

        If we have website: – targeting keyword: “Blue Widgets USA”

        This website has internal pages like this: – which target keyword: “Blue Widgets in Chicago” – – which target keyword: “Blue Widgets in New York”

        If i build some backlinks to: with anchor: “Blue Widgets in Chicago” with anchor: “Blue Widgets in New York”

        do you think this can lead to a peanlty for keywords:

        a) “Blue Widgets in Chicago” for chicago page
        b) “Blue Widgets USA” for main website

  134. Hi Gotch,

    Thanks for this great post. I stumbled upon this while browsing for building backlink strategy. I’ve bookmarked this post and will be visiting it again whenever in doubt.

    I have not read the other posts where you talk about how to create tier1 and tier2 links but I’m gonna come back for them.

    I feel encouraged after reading this post that if i am careful and build my links carefully, i can start ranking. How long will it take for Google to index these links and my site?

    I’ve my site up for 6 days now but it doesnt show as indexed in Webmaster tools yet.

  135. Hi Nathan!
    Thank you for this great article. I have an one year old website (local news project) with many social media mentions. My site is (just an example) The targeted keyword is “Goldtown” (a real existing town somewhere in the world), so what I have is a EMD.
    Till now, I have about 30 different domains linking to my website, the majority of them with linktext “”. Now I want to start optimizing/linking.
    My questions:

    1. Can a bunch (!) of (low and medium quality) links with linktext AND dammage my site and/or trigger a Google penalty?
    2. For a “natural looking backlink graph”, I would like to buy (in additon to 1) a bunch of links with linktext “here”, “click here”, etc. As I am a student and my budget isn’t huge, I can only buy low quality links for this purpose. So, there will be many links to my mainsite with linktext “here”. Is this dangerous (because the linktext is NOT diversified)?

    Till now, my SERP with “Goldtown” ist 36, awesome for the moment, as all linking was natural till now. Thanks for advice,

    1. Andreas,

      Thanks for the comment. Yes, low quality links can always damage your site regardless of the anchor text you use. One quality link is better than 1,000 low quality links. I don’t recommend taking a spam approach because it’s cheaper.

  136. I have seen ‘legit’ sites with 90% and more of the same anchor text (keyword rich keyword) ranking #1 and #2 for big keywords.

    How are they getting away with it?

    1. High authority websites can get away with high percentages because they are trusted. Keep in mind: just because a site is getting away with it now doesn’t mean it will forever.

  137. Hi,
    It’s really an awesome stuff regarding anchor text and how it should be used.
    Can you please tell me how much Anchor Text Ratio for EMD should be maintained for Tier 2 and Tier 3 because as I have seen It’s not mentioned at all in this guide.I will be really waiting for your reply.Thanks

  138. Great article as always Nathan! I was wondering about something. Given that LSI keywords are such an important part of SEO nowadays, how do you think they will change over time? Sooner than later, people will start exploiting this concept. I am sure of that. I feel that people will start stuffing their articles with LSI keywords as a result. If this happens, how will Google react? What do you think?

    1. Nikolay,

      Thanks for the comment! General keyword stuffing or LSI keyword stuffing are both bad ideas. You’ll never need to worry about as long as you are producing quality content. Worry more about how to give maximum value and less about manipulating a search engine.

  139. Hi Nathan,

    Amazing post, thank you for taking the time to write it. I have a couple of questions:
    1. I’m about to have a series of blog posts written (for our company blog) to add as related posts our top-level & search result pages providing more detailed info on the subject for users.
    My question is this…when writing the blogs, can we add multiple links with different anchor text in the blog if they all link to the same top-level page on our site?

  140. Hi Nathan,

    Thanks for this guide it’s awesome.

    I’m looking your excel files and the anchor cycling tab. Regarding the cycle for Branded Domain, is it possible to use this cycling to point all links with these anchors to an inner page I want to rank ?
    I’ve already done several branded links from social profiles and other High DA to the homepage to gain trust but kws I want to rank is on a innerpage.


  141. I am thinking there is another issue with internal link over-optimization.
    If you place page you are trying to rank in navigation then it will consume the keyword it links with.

    I just checked google webmaster tool and looks like my page has 100+ internal links. Basically from each other page.

    Does placing page under navigation = over optimization = bad On-Page SEO???

  142. Hi, thanks for sharing this amazing article, But i am running amazon affiliate site and its domain is EMD and here is my question that what will be the BRAND anchor for EMD .


  143. Hi Nathan,

    Thank you again for sharing you experience and ideas with us! I followed your link building guide and I am happy with the results. There are two questions I have:

    I have a one word EMD like keyword.tld. My main keyword is surely “keyword” and till now the optimization works well. I know, I have to be very patient and never over optimize anchor text within links, especially when handling one word EMDs.

    1. Question 1
    You write in your article, that submission to web directories still works very good, especially for varying and/or dilluting anchor text with brand signals, LSI, etc.
    But there are SEOs saying, that links from web directories are NOT (independent from anchor text) good, because they will diminuate the authority of the website they link to. Your experience? What percentage of the total amount of backlinks would you recommend for web directory submission (given that the website owner handles the anchor texts as you recommend)?
    (I mean web directories with a decent quality and topic based submissions)

    2. Question 2
    My keyword.tld domain is a news site. It has more topics (and for each topic a special, optimized page) as economy, sports, politics, etc.
    I have the opportunity to buy an expired domain with a phantastic linking structure (university- and NGO-links). Topic and main anchor text for this website is “politics”. If I redirect (301) this powerful domain to mine, should I redirect it to my main site, or to the special topic page (keyword.tld/politics/) ?
    Do 301 redirects of trusted and strong domains pass authority to the whole website, when redirecting them to subfolders and not to main site?

    Thank you again!

    1. Andreas,

      Thank you for the comment and that’s awesome to hear!

      1. Good question and what other SEO’s are saying is true. You don’t want backlinks from traditional, spammed web directories. The directories that are fine to use include niche relevant directories, authoritative directories that have an editorial process (DMOZ, BOTW), geo-targeted directories, and business listing websites. Avoid the spammy the directories and you’ll be fine.

      2. I would redirect to the homepage because that’s more natural. Plus, doing so will send link equity throughout the entire site – given you have a well-developed site architecture

  144. Hello Gotch,
    Today I spend many hours reading a understanding anchor text links and keywords you are talking about and I must say that I have never ever thought that google detects spamy links from links itself. I used to think that it detects from the website it is linked to but now i know that Google not only checks the type of website i am linked to but also the anchor text. The whole article can be summarised in way that you have make backlinks in such a manner that it looks natural. Very informative article and worth attention.

    Thanks for sharing

  145. This website was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something that helped me.
    Thank you!

  146. Hey Nathan!

    I find the article really useful, but a question came up after reading your post and analysing the anchor text distribution of one of my sites with webmaster tools.

    Question: Let’s imagine:
    If I submit a link to reddit with a PMA/EMA anchor text link to a website of mine, in the beginning all there is, is 1 link. After a while webmaster tools has found the same link on more than just one page. The same link appears on a reddit categories page, reddit user page, reddit most popular page, reddit comments page, etc…
    Does each and every one of these links count towards my anchor text ratio? Because webmaster tools now shows a total of 27 links from reddit, simply because I submitted one link.

    If each link counts (which I doubt), I come to the conclusion that having a PMA or EMA anchor text link, which goes viral on reddit, would be the absolute worst case, because your anchor text ratio would be f*****.

    So how do I weigh these links? Count it as one link only? Because the same principle applies to all webpages having category pages, etc…

    I got many links from web 2.0 properties like tumblr, wordpress & wix following the same principle. I hope you get the idea and understand what I am trying to say here :). English is my second language, so I apologize for not being able to express myself clearly.

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards


    1. Hi Sergej,

      Thank you for the comment!

      Good question. It’s hard to say, but it’s likely that Google will devalue the subsequent links that appear in categories, tags, etc. If it’s a natural link, there’s no need to worry about it. It’s much more important to avoid pounding your website with exact match anchors from many different unique domains.

  147. After reading this post, I feel worried about my site rank! I use 20%-30% exact match anchor text for backlink. My question is, If I replace those link to Branded & Naked anchor text, then can google replace anchor text what they counted? Or its better to create new link with branded & naked anchor text to reduce the ratio of exact match text?

  148. Hey Nathan,

    Great Blog, just found it and def gonna be following. I am newbie and just tried to optimise my page for a KW, it was sitting well at pos 15 and I just had some social/blog platform (bout 5) links built to it like from and etc. (which I can’t seem to see in majestic BTW even though these pages are indexed???)
    I then wen’t and added 3 natural enough blog comments on some blogs I found 2 with exact match anchor text in name field and one with my real name. But looks I can only see 1 of these comment links in majestic. Anyway result was my page dropped to pos 70. Is it possible these tiny comments screwed me? One wasn’t even moderated yet. KW was very low competition. Can’t understand the drop in ranks for such a minuscule change to minuscule site. Do you know why I can’t see all backlinks in majestic from the social/blog platforms, the pages appear to be indexed?

    Thanks for help,


    1. Hi Dean,

      Thank you for the comment! Majestic’s index isn’t the same as Google’s. Google’s index is the only one that matters.

      As far as the movement, your site might be going through the Google dance. How old is your website? It’s very unlikely that only a few links would hurt your site.

      1. Hey,

        It’s bout 2 years old, just a pastime blog. I decided just to try optimise some of my new posts to learn more bout SEO, I’m not trying to get any mad rankings or anything, just picking some low competition KW and monitor results to learn. I’m not building any crazy backlinks, just average social stuff. Perhaps your right on the dancing. Generally never ends well though.

        Thanks for reply

  149. ‘Mr. Gotch this was a really interesting article however I have a question relating to “Learn More” + SEO + Accessibility.

    I’m using bootstrap, would it be safe to wrap additional anchor text within a span and give it a class of sr-only, for the main purpose of providing screen readers with additional information of what the “Learn More” pertains too? Visually you would see “Learn More”, but a screen reader would see “Learn More on healthy eating”. This is in reference to a CTA button.

  150. I really enjoyed reading this long article. I think exact anchor text be used on the more relevant pages. I have tested on many of the site it can be between 5% to 10%. I reached on your site by Instagram

  151. This post is really helpful to me. I am a noob at SEO, so any hints on how to do it better is invaluable.

    Question: I want to promote two things. One is my main site and the other is my blog which is a subdomain within the main site (domain name).

    Should I attempt to promote both? Or would it look spammy to promote the domain and a subdomain url using backlinks??

  152. Excellent post and appreciate your very clear presentation.

    I am interested in getting some help on back links and would enjoy scheduling a call to see what services you offer. I am particularly troubled by the fact that much of my anchor text on the few back links I have (new business-under a year) are identifying me as “hire a trademark screening specialist” when I am “brand naming specialists” etc. Can these incorrect anchor texts be corrected and if not, why are they appearing? Kind wishes, Margaret Wolfson (

  153. Thank you for this article Nathan.

    I am new at SEO, so I have a question related to internal linking.

    I am trying to boost at google ranking a subcategory at my website, I am doing that through my section of articles and whitepapers. My question is how many anchor text is preferable to use toward the subcategory of my products, is there any maximum limit ?
    Second, can I get penalized if I make to many links (internal with anchor text) toward that subcategory of my products?

      1. Lovely, Gotch.

        As per using exact match Anchor text for internal Linking, I tested it od recent and the page I linked to disappeared from SERRS the next day.

        I removed the anchor text and it came back.

        I did it for two other pages and the results were the same – they disappeared!

        So it’s advisable to play safe.

        1. Thank you!

          Hmm… I doubt a single internal link would have that much of an effect on your rankings. Be careful with your conclusion because correlation isn’t causation.

  154. Hi Nathan,

    I’ve noticed over the last few weeks that using exact match anchor texts are having a detrimental effect for SEO, even for sites that have very little of this (or zero) work done previously.

    Have you noticed the same?

    Now I am avoiding using keywords in anchor text completely until I find out more.

    1. Hey Fred,

      Exact match anchors can often make new websites have volatile rankings. This is the “Google Dance”. It will stabilize once you diversify your anchor text profile and your site ages.

      1. I am facing the same problem with a few of my websites as Fred is. The rankings keep changing in a course of 10 days from low to high and vice versa. I did start wondering why, and that’s the reason i had to go through this blog for an idea of whether i’m doing my link building badly, but i am following my anchor distribution closely as mentioned in the blog.

        I guess the Google Dance is affecting my sites. I guess i got an answer for my clients and boss!

  155. This is a great article thanks!

    I have noticed the issues recently in regard to exact match anchors. Doing local client SEO, i have found better results by not using exact match anchor text at all.

    In fact i have noticed that a lot of sites ranking at the top of local searches do not have any exact match anchors at all. The relevancy that is making them rank, is coming from the urls linking back to the site.

  156. Hi Nathan, my website is more than 5 years old. What would you recommend for the number of links that I can build to individual pages in a month or in a day? The link velocity is what I would be keen to know. Thanks.

      1. Hi Nathan

        So you mean as long as my links are quality, it does not matter how many are going to my website every day right?


      1. Dear Nathan Gotch,
        I am basically a web designer we have around 50+ clients (websites), for each website we will keep our brand name and give link to my website.
        recently we have change our company name to this is very new domain and we have updated all our client website with my new brand name according to your Anchor Text percentages like Branded Anchor Text: 70%, Naked Links: 20%, Generic Anchors: 5%, LSI, Partial Match Anchors: 1-5%, Exact Match Anchors: Less Than 1%
        but still website is not getting top on google

        In webmaster tools my domain getting 30000+ links

          1. Hi Nathan Gotch
            Thanks for your quick reply
            Actually 30000+ links are coming to my domain ( is this effecting my ranking ?

            Basically my domain is very new and I am following link percentages which you have mention on this blog

            Thank you

          2. Hey Ravi,

            I can’t tell you what’s effecting your rankings because I don’t have the full picture. With that said, I don’t recommend using site-wide links.

  157. hi tank you for post it will very help full for me.. i have one doubt
    my target keyword was [REMOVED] my article title was also
    [REMOVED] my on page optimization for this keyword 94%
    can i create a back links with anchor text [REMOVED] is it good or not

  158. Thanks Again! I will keep this in mind 🙂

    I have one thing to ask:

    I am writing a blog post with 3000+ words, full of quality on topics like:

    77 top seo blogs to follow in 2016
    67 top technology blogs to follow in 2016

    [List of 50 articles like this is ready]

    So, there will be 50-70 or near these websites in each post,

    How much outgoing links you suggest to get best result? to not get any problem according to SEO and all.

    Just wanted to safe, What you suggest me on this, should i do this if yes, how to properly. to get best results and safety.

    Thanks again in advance 🙂

  159. I read ahrefs article from a while and that helped me a lot with my money site. Now your article make the information that i already know more stronger, also i learned a lot of new things from you article.

  160. You promised the ‘definitive guide’ to anchor text…and you delivered! Great work Gotch. I’ll be bookmarking this page for sure.

    One of the things I like about working in SEO is that so many bloggers understand the value of long, detailed, authoritative posts, meaning that readers like me can learn something from almost everything they read (minus the rehashed pap of course), but your content is about as educational as I’ve seen, so thank you.

    I’m a first time visitor to this blog, but I’ll be coming back for sure.

  161. Hi Nathan,

    Would you recommend using the same anchor text ratio for Tier 2 properties if I am building a blogger web 2.0 property for money making purposes? Or should I follow what you recommend for Tier 1?


  162. Hi Nathan

    Read a lot of your articles, including the background to this very article and it’s purpose. Big fan.

    Couple of questions on this one around PMDs.

    Seems to me that if you are building a niche site it is almost certain you’ll use some target KWs in your url.

    So, based on your experience, how many more ‘non KWs’ need to be in a PMD so that you can you be more aggressive with branded anchor backlinks?

    For example, let’s say I run Mike’s Dog Training – a dog training site targeting dog training KWs. Can I be aggressive with branded backlinks for:

    A. (66% PMD)?
    B. (50%PMD)?
    C. Mikesdogworld (33% PMD)?

    It is pretty likely a person running a dog training site will have dog in the title – at what point can we just ignore this and start building brand links more aggressively again?

    Also gotchseo is 50% PMD for your industry. Do you build branded links aggressively for your own site ;)?

    Would you recommend throwing in fake words (eg. Moz) or first names or surnames to dilute your PMD brand url? I think a fake (made up word) might work really well to dilute the PMD – just wondering if you have any experience of this… eg.

    Sorry for being so long winded but every domain I own is a PMD and I hate the idea of my only options being naked or generic anchors and that I cant properly promote my brand – all because I wanted to put what my business does in the domain – seems anti-user and almost like blackhatting your site to make it whitehat…

  163. Hey, Gotch!
    First of all, I would like to thank you for this super amazing article!
    I am new in SEO, like doing it since 7,8 months and i didn’t know these all things what I was doing till now was 90% wrong. 🙁
    I’ve lost 3 of my websites. Those were doing good but all 3 of them ended with penalties and completely got de-indexed. It’s alright now but after reading your article now I came to know where I was doing mistakes ( A lot :/ ).
    Now, my all doubts are clear, Thanks a lot man for this article, for sharing this knowledge with us! You’ve now changed my mind completely. Now, i will follow your this article on some of my new projects! 🙂
    Bookmarking this page also!
    Thanks Again brother!

  164. Hey man your post was awesome i am new to SEO and i have client
    He wants me to rank his site against some keywords.
    I am facing trouble in starting please give me a Quick head regarding this

    This is his site : REMOVED
    and he wants me to rank it against these keywords :

    I have done each and everything regarding competitor analysis
    now i am stucked how to work with each keyword and how to make exact plan for it so that i can easily work on that

    My another question is : Is thr any way to predict estimate of links i am going to blast to this url to rank one keyword by analysing competitor websites with LongTailPro
    Please sir help me to finish my first project
    ( very important thing this client is paying me very low rate for a month probably 150 to 200$/month. Is this ok to work with such rate?)
    Thanks <3

  165. Hey Nathan,

    Extremely informative article for someone looking for a detailed explanation on this topic 🙂 Love it.

    I was just curious though, your articles don’t display the date of publishing even though that information is there in the post (I could find it by viewing the source of the page and searching for the tag). Just wondering if this is something intentional or it’s some sort of bug and you’re just not aware of it.

    1. Thanks for the comment! The reason is because I update my articles on the regular and not using publish dates makes content appear more “fresh” to the user

  166. Great article and exactly what I’ve been looking for. Just one question left unanswered: What about anchor texts for internal linking. Obviously I can’t use 70% branded anchors because that would look like I’m obsessed with myself. Any ratios for internal? How much exact or partial for target pages?

    1. Thanks for the comment Ben. Use exact match and partial match anchors for internal links within articles. If it’s a call to action, then use strong copywriting like “go here” or “click here”.

  167. Wow ! this article is very helpful. I was so confused about backilink and anchor text. I am facing so much problem in my site as each day my backlink is decreasing. I hope this anchor text trick may solve my problem. Thanks Nathan for a good work.

  168. Indeed, this is no doubt the definitive guide to anchor text. I dont think i need to confuse my little head by reading any other article regarding anchor text..

    Thanks Nathan, waiting for your next course as i have and still keeps eating the 1st one i enrolled in already..


  169. So if I were to create articles similar to “How to Find a Reputable Personal Injury Lawyer in (City)…where would be the best placement to use these articles? Currently NOLO, lawyers and a few others are no-follow but allow for blog post.

    1. Hey MG,

      You would want to prospect for “law” or “legal” based opportunities. Most blogs won’t accept articles with geo-modifiers in the title because it’s too spammy

  170. Hey Nathan, great post. I think when it comes to figuring out how many exact match anchors you should create, the number of searches that keyword gets also comes into play.
    If a keyword gets 10k searches and you have 50 exact match anchors, wouldn’t that kinda’ seem natural?

    What I’m saying is that the more searches the keyword gets the more exact match anchors you could build.

    What do you think?

    1. Hey Alex,

      Thanks for the comment. I have to respectfully disagree with that assumption. Search volume wouldn’t change how aggressive you can be with anchor text because the two things aren’t correlated in any way. You can alter percentages based on industry standards for a particular keyword, but the percentages in this guide are the safest across the board.

  171. Thanks for this but what I find annoying on your site is you removed the date of the posts being published, why?! How do I know when this was published and if still relevant, thanks, but this is stupid.

  172. Hi Nathan,

    Awesome guide as always. I have a question about choosing related keywords of our main keyword for anchor texts: Are we using the related terms which have searches per month or we don’t care about searches and just choose words which have our main keyword embedded into it?

    For example, my main keyword is dog collars, then the related keywords would be:

    best dog collars
    dog training collars
    cool dog collars
    dog collar
    collars for dogs

    Some of them have searches less than 10 per month.


    1. Naser,

      Thanks for the comment. I try to use variations that I believe the searcher would use. “Best” and “top” are good and so are variations like “collars for dogs”. Use Google Search Console to see what queries people are using to find your page and use that as your anchor text.

  173. HI Nathan,

    Lets say i share my page or article on social media with whatever anchor text, it counts as 1 link to my site with that anchor text. So if it gets shares, does each share count as one link with the same anchor text?


  174. Hi, Gotch.

    When you say that 1% of links should be exact match, is this for the ENTIRE SITE or a SPECIFIC PAGE? For instance, let’s say (for the sake of simplicity) that Website A has 100 links: 97 branded anchors pointed to Page 1 and 3 exact match anchors pointed to Page 2. The TOTAL link profile shows an exact match anchor percentage of 3%. However, Page 2 has an exact match percentage of 100%.

    Does the ENTIRE website get penalized at this point? Or just the “trouble” page?


  175. Nathan,
    Finding a good link builder that knows what they are doing is tough. I can see why, most of them do not care, and they only have a one sided approach, they build links with the exact keywords you give them (no diversification), over, and over, most of them do not diversify your link building, they may not use brand, naked urls, etc, so if you give them 3-5 keywords, then they build links exactly that way. Would it it be safer to give them multiple orders? ie: order#1 brand, order#2 LSI, order#3 naked urls, order #4 partical, order #5 exact match urls; this would seem a little ridiculous, but most link builders just want the money, then clock out.

    What do you suggest?

    1. Hey John,

      Thanks for the comment. I’m not entirely sure what you’re asking. Just follow the percentages or give this guide to whoever is building your links

  176. Nate great read and easy to interpret, (which can be a rarity in SEO).

    My question is this;
    Why use a whole 5% on generic anchors?
    They seem spammy/dated.

    As an SEO professional, recommending this best practice of using the 5% on just these to current clients makes me weary.
    So I just wanted to know a bit more in depth about the importance of “generic anchors”………..

    Big cheers

    1. Thank you, Kenn!

      The point of using them is to make your anchor profile more natural.

      People often link with generic anchors such as:
      “go here” to
      this post “right here” or
      “this article” explains more.

      “” = anchor text

      There is no risk using generic anchors.

  177. Hey Nathan, great article, just bookmarked it for more profound study. I have a quick question for you. If a website got hit by Penguin because of the anchor text ratio, what do you recommend to do with the links that are in our control?
    A: remove
    B: edit
    C: disavow
    or maybe D: remove it and add it again with the desired anchor text, “somewhere nearby”.
    I’m waiting for your thoughts about this, Thanks!

  178. I read it all know, and I see you are answering my question in the article. What about leaving the “exact match” link in place and NF it, and add another link with branded anchor? Can this work?

  179. I’ve recently come across your wonderful blog, and your content is really the best among that of SEOs out there. Thank you!
    I read this article. Somewhere you mentioned “Niche Relevant Blog Comments” as a type of backlink. Is that OK if I use only names (of people) for diversifying my backlink profile? Or should I use anchors that are somewhat related to my blog?

  180. Hi there Natha,

    I think I don’t need to read anymore about anchor text because you simplified everything here for us. Keep up the good work, since I found this blog post on google, I’ll be a regular follower here.


    Clay Smith

  181. Congratulations and thanks very much, really !!! It’s an excellent article !!! I think it’s the best article i read on the anchor text and the evolution of SEO in the last years, before and after Penguin.

    It’s a perfect guide !!! I search this article since many years. Really. I love this article and i bookmark. You explain very well the evolution. There are a lot of case studies.

    You have a very good strategy.

    1. Hey Jordan,

      Thanks for the comment. That’s a loaded question because it depends on what your current anchor text profile is

    1. Hi Christian,

      Thanks for the comment. That’s because keyword-rich anchor text will hurt your results when used in excess. That’s why it’s important to place your keyword-rich anchor text on your best link opportunities.

  182. Oh, you put me to shame, this is by far the most comprehensive and easy to follow article I read on Anchor text. I wonder how long one of these take to write?

    I definitely need to come back here.

  183. Hi Nathan,
    I have an article:
    TITLE: Dance your way to fitness with Zumba classes in Kolkata
    In this article I have added anchor text (same like Keyword) , which navigates user to my internal page (Yoga classes in Kolkata)
    Here is the added anchor text.
    “Also Read : Yoga Classes in Kolkata”

    Now, I have used the same anchor text “Yoga Classes in Kolkata ” in 5 more articles.

    Let me know if this is OK and improve SEO for “Yoga Classes in Kolkata” . Please advices , if I require any updates

  184. Thanks lot for your valuable post
    My domain name is and my company name is Haridra Technologies
    I am getting bit confusing what is my brand name is it haridrait or Haridra Technologies.
    Please give me clarification
    Thank you

  185. This is a helpful post and a great intro to understand how to use Anchor LSI I will give an example if I got it right as I target “seo services” musty LSI keywords will be like this “is the cheapest seo services”
    “guaranteed seo services”
    “the best seo services”
    “professional seo services”
    “pricing seo services”
    “seo services”
    Please answer to my question thanks for sharing.

  186. hi geat post as always, i have been woeking on a new site in non english language but use also some english keyword. auditing the site at first i realized was over optimized for 1 word keyword we wanted to rank so i de optimized the home page and the site went to position 9-10 from 12. then i got 29 guest post sprinkled during a period of a months only naked urls. site went quickly at postion 3. the domain is really so is a pmd but more a double emd. so i think i have over sent to many naked urls containing the keyword. i want to rank included in the naked url. what you rhink go back to the latest blog post and change the anchors to lsi keywords that dont contain the key i want to rank? since the site dropped back to pos13 from 3.probabily an algo penalization right?

    1. Tom,

      Thank you for the comment. I wish I could give you a solid answer, but that’s not possible without seeing your campaign as whole.

  187. Hi Nathan,

    How do I check my Link Profile to see if my site is any good in Google’s eyes?

    Also, does having “Grace | Work Anywhere Now” in the Name field in comments hurt my site by linking to my site? Is this considered Branded text which is okay to do?

    Thanks for this article, I’m just starting out and this post simplified a lot of things for me.

    Best to you,

    1. Grace,

      Thanks for the comment! Ahrefs and Majestic are the best. Is “Work Anywhere Now” your target keyword phrase? I wouldn’t do that too often if it is

  188. Hey Gotch,
    I have been following your blog for the past couple of weeks and trying to implement as much as possible. You have really helped me understand SEO & Link Building to a new level.

    All of your posts are super-detailed with tons of examples and explanations. I hope you will publish more such awesome articles and tips to get a better edge on SEO.

    Cheers 🙂

  189. Nathan – (Resending. If possible, please delete my first post. I made a mistake.)

    Many thanks for putting this together and staying active in answering our questions. Would like to get your thinking on the following item:
    After penguin 4 update, I went back and changed majority of my backlinks in my own PBN to branded, generic and URL based anchors. I think I have overdone this and my backlink ratio for my keyword is way too low.

    If I want to go back and update those blogs, what is the best option:
    – option 1: change the link from generic/branded/URL to exact match keyword?
    – option 2: leave those geneirc/branded/url keyword in each PBN, and introduce new exact match keyword backlinks? if I do, this then from each PBN, i would have 2 links to my money site. Please do note that I have about more than 10 articles in each PBN, and in total for each PBN i have about 2 follow links and about 8 or so no-follow links to related authoritative sites.
    – option 3: do option 2, but after few weeks delete the generic/branded/url keyword, so that I would have only backlink to my money site. The negative side of this is that I will be reducing the ratio from the branded,generic, url based keywords

    what do you think?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      I would go with option two. Changing anchors is a footprint because it shows that you may some control over the link placement

  190. thanks for the prompt response on my first question.

    in calculation, do you count backlinks at domain level or at link level.
    for example, if I have sidebar branded backlink from my PBN to my money site and it has 10 blogs, then it could translate to 10 pages, hence, 10 backlinks. Or do you consider all of this as one backlink when you are trying to get to the 70% or so branded backlink ratio?

  191. when you say you would consider all backlinks in your calculation, what happens if from the same source page, you have 2 backlinks to your money site? My understanding is that google still looks at the first backlink and ignores the second one. is this still true?

  192. Thanks for the excellent article Gotch,

    Initial I was thinking diversify was the best to rank a website. but when I saw a competitor website. with partial match domain, main anchor text of 50%+ still ranked no 1 in google. The only think i guess is the content.



    1. Thank you for the comment Ryan! There are always going to be exceptions to the rule. Authority sites can often get away with more

  193. Hi gotch, thanks for sharing an epic post. I have a doubt about this anchor text strategy. Most of the blog comments, guest posting byline allows a link back to a website (which means branded anchor hope i am right) . if this is the case, there will be a lot of links point towards the homepage rather than other post or pages, is this advisable? you talked about reverse silo, where we need the link should point to a cool blog post which is not at all possible when we follow the blog comments or guest posting strategy. I am a beginner, may be i am wrong! hope you explain this scenario.

  194. Hi Nathan..It’s really an awesome post and I love your blog. I particularly love to read your article about backlinks or SEO.

    By the way, For your information, I guess my post has been hit by Over-Optimized Anchor Text penalty. I haven’t got unnatural backlink in GWT but my page that I’ve been optimized now isn’t ranking any longer.

    It’s used to be on page #3 for the targeted keyword but now the post doesn’t exist until the last page on google but it’s still well indexed 🙁
    But, this is the weird thing, another post of my blog is now on page #5 for the same keyword. After doing some search I conclude that I have over optimize the post. I check on majestic the exact match anchor is 12%.

    And then I have implemented your “trick”. I have added hundreds backlink with branded anchor(using press release, blog comment and web2/blogpost). It has been almost 2 months since the post dropped and it’s not recovered yet. I have almost get frustrated. Would you please suggest me what I have to do to fix this issue..?
    Thanks Nathan..God Bless You.. 🙂


    1. Thank you Raja!

      Usually when a random page is ranking for your target keyword, you have been penalized. It’s more than likely a Penguin penalty based on the information you have given.

  195. Hi Nathan, thanks for your great post,
    i want to confirm, & ask something about your post,
    is it possible to rank a site to top 5 google without using Exact Match Anchors??,
    in my next campaign, i’m planning to use branded and naked url only
    Thanks for your help

    1. Yes, it’s possible. You just need a quality keyword-targeted page and strong backlinks. It works best if the target page is a keyword-targeted content asset.

  196. Hey Nathan,
    what an awesome article 🙂 , I have one question for you mate and please reply as I am not able to find genuine advice.
    I am trying to rank my website for arabic anchor text and I hav my own PBN sets with all english content. So is it safe to take arabic anchor text links from english language based site ?
    If I have to target the english keyword for the same arabic keyword then it ll be too competitive for me , So i have to rank my site for arabic anchor text . Please reply mate.

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      No, that isn’t a good idea because it doesn’t make sense. English articles should have English anchor text. And Arabic articles should have Arabic anchor text

  197. Very informative article Nathan! Thanks for sharing all these info. But I was wondering, do you think keyword density still matters? if yes, what’s the preferable percentage for your main keyword?

  198. Hello,

    Regarding this comment:
    “Usually when a random page is ranking for your target keyword, you have been penalized. It’s more than likely a Penguin penalty based on the information you have given.”

    how about if this “random page” in about your local enviroment, about news and bussiness in your local area?
    Regarding google and it’s meaning for local search results…

  199. Hi Nathan,

    Thank you for your awesome article; it is so helpful. I’ve got a question, and your opinion would be of great help to me.

    So, I’ve been thinking about using Google disavow tool for anchor text dilution, as my website has too many inbund links with exact match anchors. Actually, I intend to disavow exact match anchors from low authority domains and to keep only a few from strong domains.

    Is this tactic effective for anchor text dilution? Does disavowing domains/links have any effect on the anchor text diversity?

    Thank you very much.

    Kind regards,

  200. Hey Nathan,

    Great post there. I had never given anchor text much thought but now I’m incorporating this as a key part of my SEO strategy. Thanks so much!

    One question though: assuming that every page of a website targeted a keyword that is distinct from the ones all other pages target. Would you think it’s safe to hit every page with one exact match anchor each (probably also very early after publishing them when there are little to no other links to this page). Or would you reserve exact matches only for a handful of important pages (even though all exact match anchors would be different keywords)?

    That would help me understand this topic even better.


  201. Hello, thank you for this awesome article.
    I bought a brand new domain.
    But I’m unsure about exact match domain anchor.
    My target is to build 20 backlinks.
    If I build one exact match anchor then I’ll get 5% exact match when I’ll end building backlinks. Is this bad? Because you say Exact match should be less than 1% but after then you say someone suggest to use 5% exact match. I don’t know who should I trust?

  202. Hey Gotch, from last few days I was continuously following your tips from link building article. I am new at blogging and thanks to you, it’s going easy for me to begin in blogging. I’m learning lots of things from your blogs articles.

    And one more thing I need from you is, Where can I find my blogs SEO mistakes easily. Because I’m new at it so don’t know what mistakes I’m doing day by day.

    Thanks Again.

  203. Hi Gotch,

    Articles on your site are always informative just have few queries. As you described in article about variation of anchor text we must use. Brand name is good as always because we want to improve brand.

    Incase for my personal website I can do little variation in percentage like brand anchor text plus naked url around 60 and increase exact match 2%.

    Is that okay?

  204. This is a damn good article… It’s so easy to get suckered into chasing exact and partial match anchor text. Thinking about changing my desktop wallpaper to “Just Say No To Exact Match!”

  205. Thank you so much for this article. I just placed a few backlinks on some sites without even thinking about the anchor text, I haven’t honestly focused on backlink research. It’s my first site and I worked so hard on the content that backlinking never crossed my mind and I’ve been mindlessly doing it everywhere I could get my hands. Your post might have saved me from stopping my business altogether!

    Do you have an advice for blog comments and links?

    1. Thanks for the comment Michael! Blog comments should use your name and should be relevant in most cases. If you’re trying to drive traffic through blog comments, then place your link as a naked link

  206. Does 1% anchor links can realy help ranking improvement for highly competitive keyword? I don’t think so.
    Also, I found EMD still works, it can take some time and effort but Google give value to exact match domains.

    Example: If my business name is “Box Office Theatre” then I definitely buy a domain (www Dot “boxofficetheatre” Dot Com).

    Also, do you think too amny OBL in blog comments worth?

    1. That’s too general of a question for me answer. But based on our experience, 1% or less exact match anchor text is usually more than enough.

  207. Hi Gotch!
    Great article, I learned a lot.
    I do have two questions though:
    Towards what anchor text percentage do social posts (facebook, twitter, …) count? The link usually contains the article main image, headline and sometimes the meta desc or first sentence. Theoretically that would be an exact match if my article title contains the keyword, right? In that case, I should avoid posting my articles and reposts should be discouraged.
    The other question is about dofollow blog comments in my niche. I found two contradicting statements in your comments answers: “I wouldn’t use DoFollow blog comments on tier one” and “If you’re looking for a more affordable option, I would go with dofollow blog comments”. Am I misunderstanding one of them?

    Thanks again for the great work!

    1. Thanks for the comment Marc. In regards to anchor text, you don’t need to worry about social media posts or shares

  208. Finding which anchor text to use can be a difficult process, so many questions. This guide definitely has some good tips. I guess if we don’t over use the same KW anchors then we should be fine for the serps.

  209. Thank you for such a descriptive post. I heard your interview and because you reply to every comment. I thought of asking you one question.
    What if I use the anchor strategy as you described but from the sites that are available from Fiverr sellers? Will that still work?

  210. Quick question that you can maybe elaborate on.. using so if my site is using a anchor text of “money site” is an branded anchor.. “” is a branded or naked URL anchor? Or both? What about “”, is that a branded or naked url anchor?

    Thanks in advance. Love your post!

  211. I think this post has great information about anchor texts, but the difficulty with link building isn’t the anchor texts. It’s finding places that will put a link to your site.

    Do you have an article about that?

  212. I was actually mistake regarding this. Thank you for producing it clear. However only 5% exact complement? Is it not small bit short? Waiting around for your solution. I wish to discuss about few matter’s regarding my site. Would you love to give me your skype or individual mail that I can get in touch with with you.

    1. It’s hard to say without seeing your situation. As a general rule, less than 1% exact match anchor can keep you safe.

  213. I am a Newbie in seo . I was confused about anchor text beforr this post.This post cleared a lot of doubts regarding anchor text. Thanks for the great article. Keep it up. Thumbs Up

  214. Hi Gotch,
    Excellent and extraordinary post. This is the first time i landed on your blog and this is my first comment as well. I was looking for anchor text clarification on google search and came here. I just wanted to clear my doubts about anchor text of images, but here i got deep, invaluable information on more areas like backlink building, google penalty programs and unique survival strategy. I read complete post but unable to remember every point what you mentioned here, obviously i need to read 3-4 time again before i apply your suggestions. As far as i think i haven’t read any post like this for a long time even on highly reputed blogs. Quality of this post is the sole reason why i am forced to leave a comment here.

  215. Hi Nathan, This is a very rich & informative article which describes about importance of anchor text in SEO industry I’ve ever read. Thanks for this awesome article. I’ve a little query regard this topic, hope I’ll be answered.

    I can’t distinguish between branded anchors & partial-match anchors. i.e; my main anchor is best xxx yyy & my brand anchor is xxx yyy review.

    Here, I can see my brand anchor can be called a partially matched anchor. If I build 70% link with my brand anchors, Won’t Google treat it as partial matched anchor while you suggest to keep partial match anchors within 1-5%?

    This question might seems like absurd but considering a newbie hope you’ll help me to find the answer out.
    Thank you.

    1. Hey Tanirul,

      Thanks for the comment! Yes, your ratios must be modified when you are using an exact or partial match domain

  216. Hey Nathan, I was wondering what your opinion is on a particular topic. A lot of big names in the industry such as Matt Diggity, Charles Floate, etc insist and practice duplicating anchor text ratios of the top 5-10 competitors in the serps to rank. I was wondering what your thoughts are on this, and how your method compares. Sorry if this has been asked before, there are almost 600 comments lol – I’m also new to SEO and since there’s this conflict where two sides insist on branded vs duplicated anchor text ratios I’m a little unsure of which to do. Obviously I just want to do what works and works well at that. Thanks!

    1. Hey Amelia,

      Thank you for the comment! Their anchor text strategy works well in many scenarios. Since the first Penguin update, I have used the ratios above and have always gotten great results (without getting penalized). The one issue with copying competitors anchor text ratios is that you don’t know how Google judges each website. For example, Amazon can get away with aggressive keyword-rich anchors, but some new blog wouldn’t be able to do the same. That’s because higher authority websites are treated differently.

      With that said, you can never go wrong with large ratios of branded anchor text (unless you have an EMD or PMD). The truth is, you don’t need many keyword-rich anchors to rank if your content does most of the work.

  217. Hi Nathan, Absolutely smashed it with the article! Really loving this. Got a question if you don’t mind? If the websites on the 1st page have a keyword density of 3% would you still go for 1%?


    1. Thanks for the comment Chris! I’m not a fan of copying competitors. Instead, just write naturally and do what’s best for your readers/users.

  218. Hi Gotch,
    I am kinda confused about just one part of the SEO anchor text step.

    Let’s say if I wanted to rank for the keywords “limo service new orleans and limo new orleans,” how can I create a backlink for those keywords?

    Won’t the anchor texts have grammatical errors? I know I can do something like “How to find a reputable limo service in New Orleans” but if I hyperlink the “in” would it still count for my keyword “Limo service new orleans”?

    I would love to hear your insight on this.

    Thank you,

    Jason Lee

    1. Hey Jason,

      Thanks for the comment and good question. Use grammatically correct anchors even if it’s not the exact phrase. It will still work

  219. Hi Nathan,
    Thank you for such an extensive guide. Since, I am new to SEO, therefore I always wondered how my anchor cloud should look and how to approach back linking strategies. This guide cleared my view of anchor text and back linking. I am reading this again. However, I couldn’t clearly understand your Anchor Text Cycle. Here are my questions:

    Step 1: hit your target page with an exact match anchor

    Q – If I have a website and a target page (how little birds fly) should I hit exact match achor while creating back links? e.g. little birds fly??

    Step 2: hit your site with unoptimized anchor text variations
    Q – Can you give me some unoptimized anchor text example? I didn’t get the idea of ‘unoptimized.’

    Step 4: hit your site with another exact match anchor (if necessary)
    Q – If my site is not ranking as expected then should I hit it?

    Moreover, I applied for your free SEO course but did not get a confirmation email at all.

    1. Hey Luke,

      Thanks for the comment!

      Q1: that depends on your current diversification
      Q2: unoptimized is anything that doesn’t a keyword in it
      Q3: there are usually bigger problems outside of anchor text if you aren’t ranking well. Your anchor text is a micro issue

  220. I have seen many local business websites who have made a lot of web 2.0s ( around 200) and then they have created footer link with different anchor texts and have got backlinks to their main site. and they are ranking at #1 position.

  221. Hi
    wow the anchor text topic was discussed in a right way finally. I have seen many Manbo jambo anchor text ratio articles but this is the best so far.

    Well I have been using only Pbns for ranking for the last year. And I am using similar ratio.
    if I make 50 pbns posts I use my main keyword just 1 or 2 time rest are branded naked + LSI and my website title.

    I think you forget for mention that ISL and branded works when you have quality content am I right?

    1. Hey James,

      Thanks for the comment! Yes, that’s definately true. If your content and on-page optimization is strong, you won’t need to use many exact match or keyword-rich anchors

  222. I have seen ‘legit’ sites with 90% and more of the same anchor text (keyword rich keyword) ranking #1 and #2 for big keywords.

    How are they getting away with it?

    1. Authority websites can get away with more aggressive tactics, but I would have to see the exact situation

  223. Hi Nathan,

    Thanks for the great guide. In my opinion, I feel generic anchors are generally seen more commonly in comparison to naked anchors. I have a question:
    Can over optimized anchor text (90% of links either partial or exact match anchors) make the difference between bouncing around the 3rd to 7th page result to let’s say a page 2 result?

  224. Good article, my doubts are as follows
    1- Is it interesting to leave the onpage without optimization first and only to fix the onpage after indexing the optimized backlinks, or will it not make a difference?
    2- If I want to work 3 landingpages simultaneously, can I follow this scheme or leave a fingerprint for punishment?

    1. Hey Marco,

      Thanks for the comment.

      1. Focus on your on-page SEO first and then move to link acquisition
      2. Not sure what you’re asking here?

  225. Thank you for a very informative article on Anchor Text. So true regarding monitoring your anchor text for each website you are working on and making sure you don’t over optimise. Great article, it has been of great assistance. Thanks.

  226. I have a problem with my money site my domain is emd which includes my main keyword, my anchor ratio is : %37 full url, %2 main kw, %12, others are generic. and i stucked at #14 it was #19 until i changed my exact match pbn anchors. So now i disavowed all url, brand anchors, I done a lot of niche relevant blog comments and waiting for results. Is that good idea ? Do i got overoptimization problem ?

    1. Hey Dogan,

      Thank you for the comment. It’s hard for me to give you a proper diagnosis because there are too many other factors outside of anchor text.

  227. My question was confused, sorry. Is the profile of links made by domain or page? My question is: if I work 3 pages simultaneously and using this cycle that you showed, 3 exact keywords will appear in sequence, but they will be on different pages, is this a problem? Should I work a cycle on a page and only after finishing the first cycle start another page, or can I do simultaneous?
    Thank you, your blog is very cool.

  228. Thanks for the great article. If you are building an affiliate or lead gen site, would it be a good idea to brand it?

  229. Hi Nathan,
    Many, many thanks for this. Being new to SEO I am getting my head squared on how to improve ranking. This guide is the best I have found. I will follow your advice on cycling the different types of anchors.

    I have a couple of questions I would like to share with you:
    *Is there a recommended frequency to post anchors (per day or per week)?
    *Can I use your cycles for each page on my website or should I apply them as a domain? I mean, if I apply a different exact match per page would I get penalised as a whole domain?
    * If I’m using 3 main keywords on a page can I use your cycle for each keyword without getting a penalty, or Google will track the total number of exact matches anchors regardless of the related keyword?
    *What do you think about platforms like “Intense Debate” to drop backlinks

    All the best

    1. Hey Santiago,

      Thanks for the comment!

      – No. Focus on getting quality backlinks (speed and quantity don’t matter)
      – My recommendations are for each individual page
      – How closely related are those keywords?
      – Low impact at best

  230. Hi Gotch,
    As Per your suggestion we should not contain many exact match Anchor text backlinks, but i just analysed all the backlinks which you have for your site and all i can see is almost 30% of the backlinks are keyword based. How can you justify this..?.

  231. Anybody can build or buy backlinks, but knowing what anchor text to use to diversify your strategy is important. I read this article right after I read your backlinking article and love the analogy of comparing links to a stock portfolio. I run a Houston SEO and web design agency and find that your strategies are the cleanest and most effective on the internet. Thanks for sharing.

  232. Hi,
    How long does it take for an algorithm to refresh the link profile after removing defective links? I assume that the places where the defective links have been re-indexed with content without links. My pages have been affected by an algorithmic filter and I’m going straight to this tutorial 🙂

    1. Hey Lukasz,

      Thanks for the comment! It’s really not possible to give an exact timeframe. But it can take several months for Google to recrawl and index changes

  233. Nathan,

    Thank you for sharing such an informative, and easily digestible article. I definitely picked up some great pointers and clarification of various concepts. I’m taking my time, building slowly and thus far no penalties via use of my brand.


  234. Thank you for this amazing guide!
    But what about internal link building strategy? I’m talking about links in articles on my money site. Which types of links should I use? How much is the percentage of each?

    1. Thanks for the comment Mike! Do what’s best for your users and use keyword-rich anchors with internal links.

  235. Hi,
    Thank you for your interest. Does the same thing look like a disavow tool? I can not get rid of the exact match links and because of their amount I can not “dissolve” the link profile

  236. Hi again, does the brand anchor and exact match, eg “BRAND EXACTMATCH”, “EXACTMATCH on BRAND”, belong to a branded link group or partial matching link? How does this percentage look like?

  237. Okay fist of all it took me forever to get to the bottom so that I could comment.
    Excellent guide – the best guide about anchor texts and how to proper use them in linkbuilding when wanting to perform SEO and links the correct way.
    Thank you for taking your time!

  238. Hey Nathan,
    So would you advise against using any site wide footer links at all? Even if they aren’t keyword rich words and are generic ones, such as ‘contact’ and ‘services’?

    1. Hey Parker,

      That’s a good question. There are exceptions to the rule. The one thing I recommend is to always use a branded or generic anchor text if you are planning on using them

  239. Great post Nathan!
    Just 2 questions…
    In step 2 of “Anchor Text Cycling” you’ve said “hit your site with unoptimized anchor text variations”… what does “your site” mean? does it mean “target page” which I’ve hit it in last step?

  240. I don’t have any idea regarding anchor text distribution. But you have opened my eyes now. I usually make 30% anchor text on tier 1 and i didn’t get good ranking in the google. From Now, i will focus less on anchor text when building a link More on naked urls, LSI, Partial and others one.

  241. Hello Gotch,
    I’m thrilled I found your blog. I’m blogging since 2008 and have learned many things over the time. In my blogging career, I never found such an SEO tutorial which is really easy to understand and efficient. I’m thanking you from my deepest heart.

    Bookmarked this blog for later.

  242. Thanks for dedicating your time & mind to this. Most importantly, thanks for sharing the info. Just when I think I have a strong anchor foundation, I come across a post like this….sending me back to the drawing board. Truly humbling, but very beneficial. Truly appreciate ya!

  243. Great post! Thanks so much.
    I have a question if I use anchor text duplicated a lot as listing of Related Posts at the end of post then it will be risky for penalty?
    For example: I have 4 posts about Zucchini and at the end of each post I have created a table to list Related Post About Zucchini to link to 3 other posts with the anchor is their title. So the anchor text for those posts will be duplicated at least 3 times.
    How do you think about this case?

  244. Hi,
    Thank you very much for such an informative article. Will you please tell me how to check if my site is penalized or not?
    I didn’t have any notification in Google webmaster tools but my site ranking get down nearly 60k in Alexa. I am thinking that i might done something wrong. Month ago i de-indexed tags from Google or maybe i used too much exact keywords as anchor text.

    1. Hey Asim,

      Has your organic search traffic dropped inside Google Analytics? That’s really the only accurate KPI to know if your site has been hit. Alexa rank isn’t an important KPI at all.

  245. Hey Nathan!

    Thanks for the helpful article. I have a question.

    I realized that the best anchors for web 2.0 will be generics (+ 30-40% naked). But at the same time, you wrote that you can use the brand anchors to any page of the site. Does this mean that for my blog, for example, I can use the anchor “WordPress”? Or will this be treated as a generic?

    1. Hey Anton,

      Thanks for the comment. If you’re using a sub-domain as your main site, then you would use “My Blog” as your branded anchor text.

  246. Hi Nathan – I read through your replies in here and took your advice and tried Rank Crew to dilute anchor text for a client’s target page by ordering their Press Release service. And…. I was ABSOLUTELY shocked to see that every single one of the press releases contains an EXACT MATCH anchor text to the client’s target page.

    I never asked for that, nor was it ever specified in the press release article that we provided to Rank Crew. They have done it at their own accord (without our approval or authorisation), and now have essentially toasted the client’s target page due to EXACT MATCH anchors being above 80%. Absolutely abominable!!!! How can they even call themselves “SEOs” letting this happen???? I like reading your SEO blog Nathan, but this service that you recommended has to be the absolute worst advice I have ever taken. Ever. Totally ruined a $1000 per month client. Just wanted to leave my feedback for anyone else thinking of using their service.

    1. Hey Zac,

      That’s pretty crazy that happened. Sorry to hear that. I’m not affiliated with them at all and to be honest, that recommendation was from over two years ago. With that said, you need to be explicit about the anchor text when ordering ANY press release service.

  247. Hi Gotch! Good stuff as always!! Finally, I got the piece I have been looking for.

    One of my sites was penalized by Google a few months ago (website drop the traffic and Adsense get disable). Now after reading this valuable article I came to know that the reason was anchor text stuffing.

    My question is how to recover the traffic and ranking? Is it possible to rank the site again?

    Thanks for your time.

    1. Hey Kashif,

      Thanks for the comment! It’s hard to say without knowing the severity of situation. With that said, it’s almost always easier to start fresh than to try to recover a site

  248. I real all things of this site . thanks foe shairing this site . when user submmit directly link to other website for link creation then link not to better that anchor text link but both of them link index by google crowler. so i gott many knowlege of this site so i like it mostly.

  249. Nathan

    Thanks for your good article.
    I found how many mistakes I made 🙁
    Especially I used too many ‘Exact Match Anchors Text’..
    I have to fix this habit for better results.
    Thank again


  250. Hi Nathan!

    Really great post! This is what I am looking for when G hits one of my favorite blog sites due to many “Exact anchor text” used by the previous SEO company that I outsourced. Anyway, I should definitely try all your advice not just for anchor text but also how to recover my site from penalty.

  251. Nathan,

    This was a ridiculously good post on anchor text and anchor text ratios. I’ve never heard anyone else talk about co-occurrence before around the anchor text. Also, great list on all of the different types of anchor text, great resource to have to refer to when thinking about anchor texts. I use PBN’s sparingly, but I get sick of needing to worry about proper AT ratios especially if they’re from a re-built site. I like using white hat methods so you don’t have to worry as much about exact match, you can get partial matches that will provide a big boost without the risk. In any case, great post.

  252. Hi Nathan,

    Love your article and have a quick question. As you cycle around with different anchor text as you mentioned, should the target page change or should it pointed to the same target page? To further explain: Target Keyword is Creatine, URL is When you change up your anchor text should they always point to that target page or point to maybe the home page?

    Thanks for any feedback you can provide!