For the non-initiated, making sense of SEO for humans can often feel like translating Mandarin…if the translator is a chimpanzee. Especially when it comes to Anchor text ratios!
If you’re just starting out with SEO, it’s best to get your feet on the ground and establish the basics. And one of the most basic components of link building is anchor text.
What is an anchor text, and how do you engineer your anchor text with SEO in mind? Here’s a quick, beginner-friendly guide to help you get started.
What is an Anchor Text?
An anchor text is a clickable text in a hyperlink, linking one webpage to another. In modern web browsers, it’s typically blue and underlined, denoting that this text is different from the surrounding text.
It’s simple, but getting it right increases the chance that a visitor will click on your links. Plus, because good anchor text provides context for the page they link to, it helps a search engine establish context.
Types of Anchor Text
There are several different types of anchor text to choose from, including:
- Exact match
- Partial match
- No text/image
An exact match anchor text has the same keywords highlighted as the targeted keyword of the linked page. For example, if we linked to a page with the keyword “anchor text” and hyperlinked anchor text, that’s an exact match.
EXAMPLE: [web design]
Partial Match Anchors
A partial match, as the name implies, is a variation on the keyword you want to rank for, though it can also be a long-tail keyword.
EXAMPLE: [Responsive web design]
Brand anchor texts contain the name of your brand.
EXAMPLE: [Sites By design]
Naked anchors are simply a naked URL.
Natural anchors don’t mean anything to anyone or pertain to the targeted keywords, like “click here” or “this website”.
Finally, ‘no text’ or ‘image anchor’ simply link from an image.
How Anchor Text Fits Into Link Building
We know that anchors are part of Google’s ranking because they’re referenced directly. This paper, which Google’s algorithm is based on, states that Google relies on a number of factors to determine page quality, including anchor text, page rank, and proximity information.
So, for example, if we linked to a page in this article with “lawnmowers” as the anchor text, Google can infer that the page probably has to do with lawnmowers.
If other people make the same inference, then Google is confident that the page is related to lawnmowers. Remember, there’s very little chance that two different websites would link to the same page with the same anchor text if the page didn’t have anything to do with lawnmowers.
This makes it easier for Google to understand how to categorize you, and if Google knows how to categorize you in the Search Index, you have a better chance of ranking for terms that are relevant to you.
The Flawed Shotgun Approach
There are a few different approaches to anchor texts and link building, one of which is the flawed shotgun approach.
This approach is basically a grab bag: you try to get as many links as you can, mix up the anchors as much as possible, cross your fingers and hope for the best.
The problem with this method is that your backlink profile isn’t guided by any centralized direction, which means that your backlink profile is scattered and the strength of your links is scattered all over the place instead of building off each other.
In other words, you’re throwing time and money at the problem and not seeing any real results for your trouble.
The Sniper Approach
Then there’s the sniper approach to link building, which is when you only target the links you know you need.
You won’t get as many links as you would with the spray-and-pray shotgun approach, but you’ll have more quality links. This way, you don’t have to pray that your profile looks natural–it already is natural.
And as the almighty Google has already told us, a natural backlink profile is the strongest profile. How do we know? Look at the #1 results in SERPs. They’re logical, relevant, and natural.
SEO Best Practices
Zooming back into the micro-level, let’s talk about a few SEO best practices for your anchors.
Plenty of factors can make great anchors, but SEO-friendly anchors almost always:
- Relevant to the linked-to page
- Have a low keyword density
- Not generic
Anchor texts don’t technically have a word limit, but it’s best to keep them as succinct as possible. When all else fails, look for the most concise, accurate way to describe the linked-to page. That’s your anchor text.
Also, make sure that the anchor text will encourage visitors to click it–otherwise, the link won’t do much good!
It should be obvious, but the anchors must be relevant to the linked-to page. Remember, Google uses the anchor text to put pages in context. Links that point to content related to the topic on the source page have much stronger relevancy signals than links to unrelated content.
It might seem counterintuitive, but you don’t want to overstuff your anchors with keywords. This is because of the Penguin update, in which Google started critically investigating keywords. If too many sites use the same anchor text to link to the same page, Google gets suspicious that the links aren’t natural.
Finally, whatever you do, don’t be generic. You want users to clink–show them that this page is interesting.
Anchor Text Ratios – The Golden Ratio
What I am about to say may change next week, however, it hasn’t changed in more than 2 years at this point. There is a Golden Raio for Anchor Text.
So here is the ratio of anchors that seems to work best. You don’t have to be spot on, but this seems to keep things looking natural and healthy.
- Exact Match Anchors – 5%
- Blended Anchors – 10%
- Natual Anchors – 85%
What are the big brands doing?
The fact is that most of the big brands who are ranking have 90% or more of their anchor text is their brand name. This would mean that you would make the following changes to your anchor text ratios.
- Exact Match Anchors – 5%
- Blended Anchors – 5%
- Branded Anchors – 90%
Making Sense of Your Link Building Strategy
SEO experts can debate until we’re blue in the face, but at the end of the day, it’s simple: link building still works. You just have to know how to do it right.
That’s where we come in.
We know SEO, and we’re not here to sell you magic pills or quick fixes. We’re here to give you link building solutions that have lasting results on your site performance.