Is Keyword-Rich Anchor Text No Longer Necessary?

Is Keyword-Rich Anchor Text No Longer Necessary - Eminent SEOAsk any SEO specialist about anchor text, and you may unwittingly spark a lively debate. It’s often a source of both angst and confusion.

With the Google Penguin series of algorithm updates, knowing anchor text best practices is even more important. Here, let’s look into all about anchor text, its role in SEO, and how to make it work for you.

Anchor Text Defined

Anchor text is simply any text that is clickable on a webpage that links to another place on the web. For example, in the phrase, “Eminent SEO can help improve your email marketing strategy,” the anchor text (“Eminent SEO”) links back to our website.

If this link were featured on another website, then you have an example of a process called “link building,” and it’s good for SEO. However, the phrasing can either help your search engine rankings or harm it. The difference is in how you approach your own website’s anchor text, as well as that on other sites that link to yours.

Different Types of Anchor Text

Five Types Of Anchor Text - Eminent SEOSay we’re trying to rank for the keyword “marketing strategy.” There are several types of anchor text that other websites might use to link to ours:

Exact Match

An exact match only anchors the exact keyword we’re looking for:

Example: Eminent SEO can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy.

Partial Match

A partial match (also known as a phrase match) anchors the keyword in a phrase:

Example: Eminent SEO can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy.

Branded

Branded anchor text would link back to our company, Eminent SEO:

Example: Eminent SEO can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy.

Naked URLs

A naked URL has no unique anchor text, just a web address:

Example: Eminentseo.com can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy.

Generic

Generic anchor text provides instructions, but does not include any branding or keywords.

Example: Eminent SEO can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy. Click here to go to their website.

How Anchor Text Influences Search Rankings

Search engines such as Google use anchor text as a factor in determining a page’s topic and how it should rank. In other words, using the anchor text “marketing strategy” should indicate to Google that the page on the other end of the link is a good fit for that search engine query.

In theory, the more times we score a backlink with the anchor “marketing strategy,” the higher we should rank for that query. But SEO is rarely that simple.

The Problem with Early Anchor Text

When Google’s search algorithm was less refined, the search engine relied heavily on anchor text, perhaps too much so. Around 2008, the company explained that it thought anchors provided more accurate descriptions of websites than the sites themselves. While the practice was sound in theory, it proved to be too easy to manipulate.

SEO specialists could easily cheat the system back then and tie certain adjectival phrases to a specific group or individual. Fair or not, two of the more famous “Google bombs” prior to 2010 were the association of the search phrase “miserable failure” to George W. Bush and “worst band in the world” to Creed.

Google’s Crackdown on Some Keyword-Rich Anchor Text

As a result, the search engine giant began to crack down on the way people could use anchor text for search engine optimization. The largest shift came in 2012, when the first Google Penguin algorithm update released. Its aim? Punishing low-quality and manipulative practices for link building.

Anchor text was one of Penguin’s primary targets, and companies who pursued exact match anchors aggressively saw their Google rankings plunge overnight. The Penguin update was a sort of Black Tuesday for SEO practitioners, who then had to come up with another way to put their websites at the top page of web results.

Companies, too, became twitchy about anchor text, some believing that only branded anchor text was allowed – and that all others would be punished by Google.

How Does Google Punish Anchor Text?

Original Google Penguin Update Affected 3 Percent Of Websites - Eminent SEODoes Google punish everything but branded anchor text? In a word: no. But there’s a right way and wrong way to include anchor text.

Over-optimization of anchor text, for example, is frowned upon. Search engines such as Google and Bing want backlinking to occur naturally. In other words, links should only be in your content if they make sense or if they lead to relevant content. If you have too many links, or if your links look contrived, the Penguin filter could demote the page.

While this sounds harsh, in reality, the original Google Penguin update only affected some 3 percent of websites. If own your content contains links in less than 50 percent of the copy, chances are you will not be affected by Penguin.

What About Link Quality?

Penguin also punishes links that don’t lead to authoritative websites. This discourages rank inflation. Quality backlinking to reliable information ensures your page is relevant. Don’t use anchor text just to grab a keyword. It looks unnatural to Google and will hurt your ranking.

Exact and Partial Anchor Text Still Wields Influence

So, does Penguin punish exact and partial keyword anchor text? A study by Ahrefs sought to find the answer. The study involved analyzing 51 keywords in competitive niches from finance to health, both exact matches and partial matches. Ahrefs found that both exact and partial keyword anchor text continue to have some influence on the top spots in Google searches.

The key here is density. For exact keyword matches, aim for it to be in no more than 1 to 2 percent of all anchor text. Partial matches are more forgiving: 30 percent of anchors containing a keyword phrase are safe from Google penalties.

Anchor Text Best Practices

Google Has Over 200 Ranking Factors - Eminent SEOThe (not-so) final word on anchor text: It continues to influence the top spots in Google searches, especially in competitive niches. But … it’s not as heavily weighted as it used to be since Google now has more than 200 ranking factors.

Don’t be afraid to use keyword-rich anchor text in your own web content, though. If done well, it will help your search engine rankings. Observe some basic best practices:

Make Your Links Relevant

We talked a little bit about the importance of link relevancy in SEO, but it’s more easily understood with an example.

Say you own an aromatherapy store, and you love to blog about it. Ever eager to share your passion with others, you spend a little time each day reading about the newest in aromatherapy. You find an article about a study linking aromatherapy to increased levels of mood-boosting serotonin in the brain.

When you write a blog about this later, you could link back to the study in a couple of different ways:

“To read the study, click here.”

OR:

“A study outlines the effect of aromatherapy on the brain.”

SEO best practices dictate the second phrase (“effect of aromatherapy on the brain”) is more effective, because it is relevant to the topic at hand. Remember, search engines are interested in producing results that are beneficial to the user.

Vary Your Keywords

Google is wary of keywords and anchor text that appear over and over again. If your site’s backlinks all contain the same keyword-rich anchor text, it’s usually a sign those links weren’t acquired naturally.

Shoot for a variety of keyword anchor text, and don’t use the same one each time. This is where the statistics for partial match and exact match keywords come in. In general, try to earn only a few exact keyword matches. Partial keyword phrases are more forgiving, but variation helps in each phrase or term.

And when you’re linking internally or externally, don’t make your anchor phrases too long. Best practice dictates that they should be eight words or fewer for maximum benefit.

For example, if your aromatherapy store is the only store in Atlanta selling sustainable, ethically sourced essential oils, you might want others to link to your website with the keyword phrase “sustainable essential oils in Atlanta.” However, you want the keywords to be varied so you can avoid Google penalties. Similar phrases like these might help:

“Here’s a great site for sustainable essential oils.”

OR:

“Buy quality sustainable oils in Atlanta.”

Each anchor phrase carries pieces of the original keyword, yet they’re varied enough to pass the Google algorithm’s muster.

Bottom Line: Don’t Disregard the Power of Anchor Text

Although dwindling to a degree, anchor text continues to carry weight for current search engine algorithms. Early over-reliance on anchor text has led to a crackdown on the way we use anchor text for SEO purposes. Your mission is to keep earning relevant backlinks with varied keywords, which will help your site earn a place near the top of Google’s rankings.

Search engine optimization is essential for the success of your website. Eminent SEO can help optimize your content (including external links) as well as review your backlink profile. Just call 800.871.4130 if your company needs help with better content and earning stronger backlinks.

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Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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4 thoughts on “Is Keyword-Rich Anchor Text No Longer Necessary?

  1. iwebsitez.com

    Sorry to say but this is absolute one of the best SEO explanation I’ve ever read about anchors.

    Thanks for that, I’ve read 3 times already for a better understanding.

    Cheers

    Reply
    1. Team Eminent SEO Post author

      Nothing to be sorry about! Thanks for reading! Check out some of our other blog posts and let us know what you think.

      Reply
  2. James

    I agree with you. Keyword anchor text still works but they must come up with a variation as you have mentioned. Personally I use 5 percent of my targeted keywords as anchor text.

    Reply

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