This isn’t the first time we’ve blogged about avoiding patterns in SEO. One of the common patterns SEO’s create when building links is unnatural anchor text. Most of the time, it is not the ‘type’ of links SEO’s or webmasters are getting, or the websites they are getting links from that can cause penalties. It’s unnatural keyword anchor text that is the common culprit.
Unnatural anchor text distribution is the #1 reason websites get penalised
The easiest way for Google to detect algorithm manipulation is through anchor text. You see, back in the day, if you sold ‘red widgets’, all you had to do is get enough links pointing at you with ‘red widgets’ as the anchor text and you’d rank.
Well nowadays, Google are wiser to this, and actually, use unnatural keyword anchors to profile aggressive SEO. This is why we stress to our clients to use ‘natural anchor texts’ for 99% of their link building efforts.
So, what are natural anchor texts?
Natural anchor texts take a wide variety of forms. We usually class an anchor text as ‘natural’ if it isn’t a commercial keyword phrase. The most widely used natural anchor text is brand anchor text.
URL or brand name anchors look like this
- ‘visit brandname.com’
- ‘visit brandname’
Widely used natural anchor texts look like this
- ‘click here’
- ‘click here for more info’
- ‘more info’
- ‘see more’
- ‘tell me more’
Linked up sentences look like this
- ‘this website explains the topic really well’
- ‘you can find out about the topic here’
- ‘purchase a red widget from this site’
Take a look at the biggest brands anchor text distribution
Here’s a snapshot of the top anchor texts for Amazon – the World’s largest e-commerce website. When you’re shopping for something, you’ll usually see this website ranking in Google. They must be doing something right.
The top anchor texts are mostly URL and brand and variations. Take a look for yourself on OSE. If you want to stay ‘safe’ with your anchor text, it’s always best to mimic the biggest brands and websites that rank well online.
Take a look at Wikipedia, the World’s largest content site. When you’re searching for information on almost any topic, Wikipedia is bound to show up on the first page of Google.
The same happens in competitive verticals like travel, where giants like ‘Travel Supermarket’ who rank for monster keywords like ‘holidays’. Notice ‘holidays’ isn’t one of their top keywords.
Bare in mind, to rank for something, you don’t necessarily need your anchor text to mention that keyword or phrase.
Their anchor text distribution is mostly URL and brand.
We understand some industries may be more cut throat and require more of an aggressive approach. Be cautious, what’s working for competitors today may be their downfall tomorrow. Most markets don’t need a keyword bias with anchor text profiles, and can be dominated whilst remaining natural and immune to penalties.
Anchor Texts to keep on the down-low.
Commercial anchor texts should make up around 1% of your overall anchor text profile.
- ‘red widgets’
- ‘buy red widgets’
- ‘cheap red widgets’
- ‘red widgets sale’
- ‘red widgets discount’
Without keyword anchor texts, how can I rank for ‘Red Widgets’?
We don’t want to be going back to SEO 101 here, but simple onsite measures in SEO strategies can get dwarfed by link building.
- Make sure your site has a clean and crawlable structure
- Assign keyword themes to each page
- Make sure each page mentions the keyword it is targeting
- Take advantage of internal linking using keyword anchors
Partial Keyword Anchor Text
Partial keyword anchor text is all about getting your keywords within natural looking linked phrases or sentences. This means that a keyword signal is still being sent but a filter is not tripped, so long as each string of text is unique.
- if you want to learn more about [keyword], then see this post on Wikipedia
- learn more about [keyword] at Wikipedia
- there’s lots more [keyword] guides here
Co-Citations are all about ensuring your keyword or keywords are near the anchor text link that points to your website. This provides a safe way of sending keyword signals without polluting your anchor text profile. Here is a great definition of what co-citations are. Take a look at these examples:
- If your looking for [keyword] then you should take a look at Amazon’s website.
- I found that this website offers the best [keyword]
- There is some great [keyword] advice on Amazon.co.uk
- Make brand & URL make up 80% of your anchor text profile
- Learn from the biggest brands in your sector by studying their anchor text profiles
- To avoid penalties start with naturalising your anchor text profile
- Focus on onsite SEO, internal linking and partial keyword anchor text link building to give keyword signals