The Art of Anchoring

Skim any SEO text from just a few years back and you’d inevitably be told to use the exact keyphrase for the term you wish to rank. Doing that now is a recipe for all kinds of penalties.

It just goes to show how serious Google is about penalising people who try to manipulate their rankings. So what is the best approach to take when crafting anchor text?

Probably the best approach is not to use craft at all. After all, natural is one of the qualities Matt Cutts prizes. But we are professionals with plans and strategies and laying down a solid anchor text policy is part of any SEO operation. Here’s a look at how companies should be handling anchor text.

First, let’s look at just what anchor text is and why it’s so important.

Anchor text refers the visible and clickable text of a hyperlink. It’s the words you read on a link. It can range from a generic ‘click here’ to an exact keyphrase match such as ‘best Sydney car detailing’. It can be anything you want. Just bear in mind that the search engines use it to determine the topic of the page you’re linking to.

In the old days of SEO (pre Penguin 1.0), using exact match anchor text enhanced the value of the back link and thus gave a nice boost in rankings.

When you consider the purpose of anchor text, it’s easy to determine the best approach. It’s there to guide the web user and tell him what’s on the other end of the link. So you just need to make it descriptive, relevant and informative and avoid spamminess. That said, you should try to get as much SEO value as possible. Gaining rankings is out business, after all.

Anchor Text Best Practises

‘Natural’ when it comes to link building includes variety – variety of sources and also of anchor text. When it comes to choosing text, you can consider five types – exact match, partial match, branded match, related match, and of course, unrelated which means no match at all.

When it comes to ratio, giving equal weighting to each type is a good approach. If you were linking to a Sydney piano tuner called HonkyTonk and targeting the keyphrase “best Sydney piano tuner”, you might use:

best Sydney piano tuner (exact match)
Sydney piano tuning (partial match)
HonkyTonk Piano Tuners (branded match)
tuneful pianos (related match)
click here for more information (unrelated)


Rectifying Past Mistakes

If you’re worried that unnatural anchoring is hurting your client’s rankings, you should carry out a backlink audit. Use tools such as Moz’s Open Site Explorer or Ahrefs to check the anchor text of the various links. You can then take action to build a more natural profile.

About Nathanael Vanderkolk

Nathanael Vanderkolk is the Director of the Smart SEO Company, a SEO Agency in Sydney, Australia. Smart SEO Sydney has a keen awareness of the latest approaches to online marketing. Follow him on , Facebook and Twitter.
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