Anchor text and how to use it
The most important off page factor to securing high rankings in Google is appropriate anchor text pointing to the specific page of your website that has been optimized to target that term for that keyword phrase.
Anchor text defined
First off let’s define anchor text. Anchor text is that portion of a hyperlink that is viewed by a user on a webpage (the clickable text). Here is an example: in html code, the link will be denoted with www.domain.com and the anchor text will be bolded as “ anchor text ”
Here is a typical html link:
<a href=” http://www.domain.com ”> Anchor Text </a>
Or a real life example – my link is http://www.seo-guy.com and my anchor text is SEO, thus I would write my text links like this (and if you enjoy this article, please link using the same code in appreciation or to tell visitors about it):
<a href=” http://www.seo-guy.com ”>SEO</a>
Again as you can see my anchor text is contained between the > </a> after the domain and quotation mark portion of the link.
The logic of anchor text
Now that we are clear as to what anchor text is, let’s look at the logic as to why anchor text would/should have such a dramatic effect in the Google rankings for your keyword phrases and what exactly “appropriate” anchor text is.
Google decided to base a large portion of their algorithm on inbound links (links from other web pages) because of its initial breakthrough technology “PageRank™”. Google (And most other search engines) counts each link as a vote for the linked “to” webpage by the linked “from” webpage. Analyzing all constituents of a link “from” a webpage to determine the specifics of the link allows for much more specific information to be gathered about the vote being cast. There are really only the two above mentioned common elements: the webpage address you’re linking to (this does not have any alternatives), and the anchor text (which can be anything) based on the choice of the webmaster giving the link. It is because of this choice that the anchor text becomes important. If there were no such thing as link popularity in the algorithm, the anchor text people would choose to link to a website with would be truly representative of that website’s content.
Basically Google uses anchor text (and assumes you aren’t biased by link exchange) to answer the question “Okay, you’re voting for a site (and that’s great!), but what exactly are you voting for?” Anchor text is your explanation of what you’re voting for. In essence you’re saying “I am voting for this site because it is a great site that represents (Whatever you put in your Anchor Text)”. It’s what I call the “Thumbs up and why answer”.
Because of link exchange and artificial inflation of link popularity, Google does not stop at anchor text when it comes to validating your vote. After you have said you are voting for a site because it is relevant to whatever anchor text you provided, it also examines your website in essence to qualify you to be able to cast this vote. It’s kind of like they are asking, “Well, what do you know about the keyword phrase you provided as anchor text anyway?” Google compares your site’s theme/content (especially the page you cast the vote from) to the link text you provided to come up with some kind of relevance match. The more relevant the vote you are casting from your site is to your site’s content, the more weight they will give to your vote about the subject. Which makes sense because if you have a ton of content about “x” then you must know a lot about “x” so when you vote for someone saying their site is also about “x” that vote should mean something, comparatively you’re the expert.
How powerful is anchor text?
Anchor text is so powerful that you do not even have to mention your keyword phrase ANYWHERE on your page, including the header, and with enough votes you can still have first page rankings. Search George Bush’s page for “miserable failure” or Delphi.com for the keyword “forums” and you will not see them anywhere; however, if you search Google for those terms you will find that both sites are on the first page of Google for their phrase, respectively, from anchor text alone — THAT’S how powerful anchor text is.
Why not just get links from anyone?
It could be a long response but it doesn’t need to be: Ask yourself, “What does a Viagra site know about real estate? Or a casino know about boat oars?” Based on an evaluation of their content, absolutely nothing. So why should their vote count? It shouldn’t, there is no reason (other than artificial inflation of link popularity) for that link vote to be cast. If it is that easy for us to see, then don’t you think the PhD’s at Google could figure it out?
A common misconception among the webmaster forums lately is that the purchasing of sponsored text links to a domain will get that domain banned. If this were the case, we could all just go out and buy our competitors site-wide high PR back links with appropriate anchor text to make it look like they were attempting to cheat the system and then report them in hopes to get them banned. I find this flawed as a website owner can obviously not be held accountable for inbound links out of their control.
A more plausible solution is that these links would just be discounted or the sites obviously selling the links get a penalty of some kind, which we have seen in the last 7 months in the form of PR pass on bans. Soon enough people will realize that buying links from completely irrelevant sites just because they have high page rank simply does nothing for them because of the relevance (also called topic specific) factor mentioned above. I would rather have a PR 1 back link from a quality content site matching my theme than a PR 7 site-wide link from a Viagra site (unless of course I am a Viagra site myself, then I’ll take it!) Don’t forget that page rank is always nice to brag about, but in today’s Google it has a lot less to do with the SERPS (Search Engine Result Pages) than it once did.
Advanced Anchor Text Usage (Natural Link Simulation)
One of the more advanced (albeit if you think about it, obvious) techniques to be applied to link building is to attempt to integrate the occasional non keyword loaded anchor text link to your site. Think about it, if 100% of your links are your “exact” keyword phrase, it makes it look pretty obvious that you’re targeting it. Also other than perhaps your own site name, a 100% inbound anchor text density would NEVER happen. So I say switch ‘em up. Make one out of every 15 or so link request your actual site name or domain. Get a few links in a sentence (Extend your anchor text to natural language) and of course let’s not forget to deep link, meaning getting links to ALL your important pages, not just your index page. If I were Google and saw 100% links going to just one page I would think one of two things, either you’re an SEO, or your site just isn’t very high quality as no one finds worthy content past the first page. Either way it’s a good idea, which leads into our next technique.
Often webmasters try to target too much with their optimization efforts on one page, thus diluting its effectiveness. You have many pages in your site, use them! I suggest targeting no more than 3 keyword phrases per page and then choosing another page if you have more. (And in almost every market you have more).
I, for example, target “SEO Company”, “SEO Services”, and “SEO” as my keywords for my main page of www.seo-guy.com . I also want to rank well for “SEO Tutorial”, “Free SEO Tutorial”, “SEO Forum”, ”SEO Forums”, etc. Thus I choose the most appropriate pages for my other keywords. www.seo-guy.com/seo-tutorial.html targets “SEO Tutorial” and “Free SEO Tutorial”, and www.seo-guy.com/forum/ targets “SEO Forum” and “SEO Forums”.
Now that is for the distribution of my on page SEO; however, I mention it in this article because it extends to the previous multiple pages, multiple anchor texts mentioned above. Now because of the appropriateness of my on page targeting, I am forced (if I want to rank well for all my terms) to switch up my link requests to link with many different anchor texts and to many different pages. I used 3 in this example, but I have hundreds of pages targeting different keywords and thus hundreds of different anchor text links pointing to those hundreds of different pages. The end result is I am rewarded with excellent rankings across the map as Google sees that I am an important site (I have many links) but also a quality site (I have links to many different pages) and finally I have covered my bases by providing a multitude of anchor text variations, thus making it appear a lot more natural than if every link just pointed to my homepage with the keyword “SEO”.
If you have any questions please feel free to email me or stop by the SEO Forum . Oh, yeah, and don’t forget to support our drive to be number one in Google for the keyword “SEO” — please link to us using the following anchor text:
<a href=”http://www.seo-guy.com” target=”_blank”>SEO</a>
this will read: SEO
Thanks for your support, and I hope you enjoy my articles.