Anchor text diversification isn’t new. Diversifying your anchor text to produce a more natural looking link graph is an SEO best practice. However, there are still sites dominating the SERPS that almost exclusively use exact match anchor text.
So why should you stop using exact match anchor text if it’s still working?
- Protect yourself from future Google updates! The most recent update penalized a lot of sites, and the most enduring similarities between the penalized sites was heavy exact match anchor text. While this is speculation, it would be pretty easy for Google to detect unnatural anchor text profiles. Why take the chance?
If we’re trying to create a “natural” looking anchor text profile, we need to think of how most sites are linked to naturally. Very rarely are sites linked to with exact match anchor text. Most often, sites are linked to with the raw url, like http://website.com, or with “click here,” “site,” etc.
Take a look at Perfumania.com’s anchor text profile. It’s extremely heavy on URL and brand anchor text, yet they rank #1 (which isn’t surprising. It’s natural!). You don’t need a lot of anchor text to rank for your desired keywords. Google is very good at determing whether or not a site is relevant to a search query.
If we’re trying to produce a natural, penalty/filter-free anchor text profile, I recommend using 99% generic anchor text for all but your most premium links. That is, use things like http://website.com, your website’s brand, like “Perfumia,” and things like “this site,” “visit here,” “click here,” “previous,” & “next.” Also notice that Perfumia has anchor text with both the http and www versions of their site. While you and I know what our preferred domain is, people who naturally link back to your site don’t. Lesson: link back using both. That’s why we have 301s.
For many SEOs, generic anchor text may feel unnatural, even painful- we’re so use to using exact anchor text! But remember, this is the natural way to link to a site.
Now that your link profile is full of natural, generic anchor text, you need to use some exact match anchor text . I recommend using exact match for your most powerful, relevant links. Or, better yet, partial anchor text is even more natural. For instance, use your brand+ keyword: Blue Widget World.
In the end, natural anchor text is a long-term strategy that will help cement your site in the SERPS. Moreover, it eliminates one of the many factors that you have to consider if your site receives some sort of filter or penalty.
By Ryan Ciocca