A Complete SEO Guide to Anchor Text Optimization for 2024

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Undoubtedly, the most crucial expertise in offsite SEO lies in mastering the art of anchor text selection. Achieving the ideal anchor text distribution can propel you to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) with fewer links compared to your competitors. Conversely, poor anchor text selection could result in a dreaded Penguin penalty. As an SEO expert, the most frequent question I receive from clients is: “Which anchor text should I use?” While I’d be thrilled to provide a straightforward answer, the truth is that it requires more than just a five-minute explanation. Choosing the perfect anchor text involves thorough analysis and practice. However, there is a systematic and consistent approach you can adopt to optimize your site effectively. It’s crucial to develop this skill independently, rather than relying on others, to truly excel in SEO. Once you’ve mastered this technique, it’s akin to advancing to the next echelon of SEO expertise. In this guide, you will discover the method to determine the optimal anchor text ratio tailored to your specific website, 13 innovative anchor text selection strategies to outperform your competitors, and techniques for maintaining a well-balanced internal anchor text ratio. For those that prefer video consumption, here you go:  What is Anchor Text? Anchor text is the clickable text in a link. In HTML it looks like this: And on your webpage, it comes out like this: Awesome SEO Blog. In this example “Awesome SEO Blog” is considered to be the anchor text. Why Care About It? You should care about it because anchor text is one of the indicators that Google uses to determine relevance. For example, if a website is constantly getting quality links with the anchor text “dog collar”, Google is eventually going to determine that your site is about dog collars. Simple stuff. Back in the day, to get websites ranking, all you’d need to do to rank is send enough links with the anchor text exactly matching the keyword you want to rank for. Ah… the good old days. And then Penguin Came The Penguin algorithm (started April 24, 2012) targets backlink manipulation. It looks at the quality of the links your site is getting and, you guessed it, the anchor text pointing to your site. If the anchor text distribution doesn’t look realistic, then you get penalized. Sending anchor text with your keywords in it gets the ranking needle moving, but overdo it to the point that it doesn’t look realistic, and you’re going to be headed south very soon. Now the question is, what is realistic for Google? External Anchor Text Optimization  Determining Your Niche-Specific Target Anchor Text The first step in anchor text selection is to figure out what is the ideal target anchor text distribution for your niche. Here’s how I do it, broken down to its basics: Analyze the Competition Many SEO’s often talk about needing a “natural” anchor text distribution.  When they describe it, it typically looks something like this: 50% Brand/URL anchors For example, a branded anchor for would be “Golf Genius”. Branded anchors only apply to non-EMD/PMD sites. URL anchors are variations of the naked URL:,,, etc 25% topic anchors Example: “sports equipment” would be a topic anchor for the keyword “best titanium driver” 10% target keyword and longtail anchors Examples: best titanium driver, what is the top titanium driver, buy titanium driver online I define an anchor in this category if it has a single word of a keyword phrase you want to rank for (excluding stop words) 15% miscellaneous anchors click here, read more, go to website, etc. We could break this down even further into categories like “Brand + target” (e.g: Golf Genius’ review of titanium drivers), but for the purposes of this exercise, its overkill.  We’re looking for guidance, not supreme accuracy. While many people stick to this idea that you need this perfect, “natural” ratio of various types of anchors, this simply isn’t the case. You’ll learn more about this soon… Do a search for your target keyword and toss the results into a backlink checker like Ahrefs. Here, and only here, is where you’ll find the anchor text distribution Google is looking for. Often this looks nothing like the cookie-cutter anchor text distribution that is supposedly “natural”. Case in point – Keyword: “sell my car online” Your anchor text plan often isn’t what you initially expect.  I’ve been in niches where I had to consecutively hit the site with target anchors for a month straight until I was able to break into page 1.  It’ sounds like anchor text SEO in 2005, but sometimes that’s what the niche is asking for. Here’s an anchor text distribution that is currently going to the URL of one of my sites ranking #1 for a high-stakes affiliate keyword (It’s been ranked #1 since mid-2018). Find the Average Anchor Text Distribution of the Top 5 Rankers To figure out the target distribution of anchors for my particular niche, I rely on Ahrefs and Excel (alternatively SEO Jet and Linkio supposedly do this). Step 1) Download the Ahrefs Anchor Text data for the site in position #1 Step 2) Categorize anchors by type I use the “Referring Domains” column so I don’t double-count anchors sent from the same domain, possibly from a site-wide link. Step 3) Find the anchor text distribution for this URL by creating a pie chart. Step 4) Repeat for Sites in Positions #2-5 Step 5) Your Niche-specific Target Anchor Text Distribution = The Average of the Top 5 Sites Step 6) Record and Implement Now that you know the anchor text ratio that Google is looking for, it’s time to begin your link building campaign whose anchors will mimic this distribution. I first start by recording the target distribution down in a Backlink Management Template. Once you know “where you want to be” you can start incrementally sending links until you get there. Frequently Asked Questions Q: This is great.  Do I now send these links and anchors across my whole site, such that the overall domain itself gets this distribution? A: No.  Anchor distribution ratios are determined on a per-page basis.  Any anchors you send to an inner page, do not affect the ratios on the homepage for example. Q: My page ranks for many keywords.  Which one should I use for my search to pull up the competition? A: Use the main keyword you’d like to rank for.  For affiliates, this is probably “best _____”.  For local seo solutions, its probably “<city> + <industry>”. Q: I believe my competitors are hiding their PBN backlinks.  What should I do? A: First, check to see if they blocked some of the less popular crawlers like Open Link Profiler.  If they didn’t block it, great. If you still can’t find their PBNs, skip over this competitor. Remember, we’re looking for guidance, not accuracy. Q: One of my competitors is an authority site that ranks with only 2 backlinks.  Should I add it to the analysis? A: Skip over it as well. It’s an anomaly and will distort your result. Q: What if one of my competitors disavowed a bunch of their links? A: You’re getting the theme now.  When in doubt, skip over the competitor. Mastering Anchor Text Selection At any given time, I’m conducting at least 6 single variable SEO tests.  In the last few years, I’ve completed over 200.  A huge chunk of them have been related to anchor text. Get a pen and paper handy because I’m about to reveal 13 anchor text selection tricks that will allow you to blow past your competition’s amateur SEO efforts. 13 Pro-level Anchor Text Selection Tricks 1. Never use the same target anchor text more than once Whenever I make any SEO decision, I ask myself the question: “Does what I’m about to do look natural?”  Anchor text selection is no different. Back in the earlier days of SEO when you could pretty much get away with anything, people that wanted to rank for “dog training” would simply send all their anchors as “dog training”. Clearly, this doesn’t work anymore but I still see it quite often.  Money sites will have a balanced anchor text distribution (50% brand and URL, 10% misc, etc), but all 20 of their target anchors will be the same (dog training, dog training, dog training, …) What are the odds of this happening naturally?  The probability of 20 independent websites all linking to another website using the exact same target anchor text is pretty slim.  If you have 500 backlinks it might move into the realm of “remotely possible”. Instead, never use the same target anchor more than once and mix up your keywords by throwing in filler words.  Not only does it look more natural, but it actually gets a better result with fewer links. So in a nutshell, don’t repeat anchors, except in some cases like… 2. Utilize Your SEO Title Tag as an anchor Your SEO title Read More Read More

The post A Complete SEO Guide to Anchor Text Optimization for 2024 first appeared on Diggity Marketing.

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