Anchor Text Optimization
Google changes its search engine algorithm approximately 500 – 600 times per year. Most are minor changes, but occasionally they roll out an extensive update that substantially alters the online world.
They recently confirmed a broad core update that took place last weekend. Due to this, some websites may note gains or drops, and it appears there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it according to this statement from Google via Twitter:
As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded….
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) March 12, 2018
Google went on to say that building great content will be the only option to overcome the issue of low performance of any page. However, this vague statement doesn’t really provide “how to” details, which is typical of Google and their mysterious updates.
Search engine optimization is the best way to improve the traffic to any website, which includes content creation. There are endless options for how to go about this, and anchor text optimization has been gaining a lot of attention these days.
What is Anchor Text?
Anchor text is the visible characters or letters that are part of a clickable link within a webpage or online document. This clickable text, also known as a hyperlink, is usually displayed in a different color and is sometimes underlined.
There was a time period early on when keyword stuffing and spammy outbound links were effective strategies. After the Penguin update in 2016 and once artificial intelligence and RankBrain became a Google reality, it was apparent that none of these tactics were good practice for any SEO company.
To develop good content that won’t be penalized, there are some guidelines based on research from other SEO companies. Let say we are trying to rank for the keywords “content writing.” Here are the main types of anchor text followed by an example.
- Exact match = content writing
- Partial match = learn more about content writing
- Branded = S&S Pro Services (our company name) or Moz or Search Engine Land
- Brand + Keyword = S&S Pro Services content writing
- Naked link = ssprosvcs.com or www.moz.com or https://searchengineland.com
- Generic = click here or go here (no keyword or brand)
- Images = Google uses the alt tag for the anchor text
- LSI = (latent semantic indexing or closely related keyword) = what is content writing or content writing vs content curation
- Title Anchor Text = Lead The Pack With Successful Content Writing Tips (linked to the title of a previous blog on our site about content writing)
Anchor Text Distribution and Placement
Now that you understand what anchor text is and the various types, the next step is best practices for anchor text usage. This video by Nathan Gotch provides a review of the types of anchor text, but at the halfway mark he begins discussing anchor text distribution percentages and where to place the preferred link:
There are no actual written rules or industry standards for anchor text usage, so it is basically a matter of opinion. If you did study the search results to discover the optimal formula, every niche would be different so you would need a massive amount of research to have a solid conclusion (or an inside contact at Google).
How Vital Is It?
The important thing that must be taken care of while performing anchor text optimization is to keep the content versatile and natural. Avoid overuse of keyword-based anchors and multiple repetitive anchors.
It’s also wise to avoid over optimization as Google will never be okay with over-done anchor text. Good linking must also be naturally spread across the inbound links in the right proportions.
As mentioned in the video, the key to high-quality content and ranking isn’t just the anchor text ratios, but it is also the quality of the site, how well optimized it is, and the backlinks that are coming in from other sources to your page.
Importance of Inbound Links
Attaining backlinks from high authority sites is one way of showing Google that your site offers relevant information and is worthy of their recognition. It is like getting a referral from another company and creates co-citation and, in turn, authority.
There are a lot of ways to earn backlinks, but receiving one from a big name like Hubspot or Forbes requires some effort. This article offers 33 ways to get inbound links to your site.
Another method is to hire a Denver SEO company to do this work for you. It will cost you to have someone else manage the process, but it will save you time and should offer a nice return on your investment because of increased traffic and income.