Thursday, February 14, 2013

Anchor Text Distribution

 A while back after Google released their Penguin update we did a webinar about keywords, linking and ranking after the update.  Today we are going to revisit that data after allowing plenty of time to gather more information and come to some conclusions about the best distribution of anchor text for ranking in Google.
We all know by now that Google does not want people gaming their algorithm.  Despite this their search results are still a computer generated algorithm – there is not a person sitting there for all search phrases deciding which sites rank and which sites don’t.  Due to this basic fact there will always be ways to improve your rankings by aligning your site with what Google is looking for.

Despite what has been said, link building for better rankings is not dead.  Links are still the primary way Google decides what sites to rank where.  The difference is that today those links need to be distributed in a natural manner rather than a keyword based manner.  SEOMOZ ran an article where they looked at 10 national brand sites that rank very well in the search engines and broke down the percentages of links by anchor text.  What they came up with is a good formula for your own link building.

What was found is that about 65% of the links were exact match, phrase matching or brand matching with regards to the anchor text.  The breakdown between these three categories was 18% exact, 17% phrase and 30% brand.  The other links coming in were evenly divided between the URL as the anchor text and unrelated anchor text.

This is a great way to create your own link building strategy.  Using the ratios above, here is what a sample link building strategy might look like for your site, called “Widget World” selling Red Widgets:

For every 100 links built, you should build the following:

18 links with anchor text of “Red Widgets” – this is the exact match

17 links with anchor text containing Red Widgets, such as “Handy Red Widgets”, Waterproof Red Widgets”, etc – this is the phrase match

30 links with anchor text of “Widget World” or slight variation – this is the brand

18 links with the anchor text of “” – this is the URL

17 links with random anchor text – this could be long tail phrases like “see more about Red Widgets at our site” or simple phrases like “click here” etc.

This is a simplistic breakdown, but the data backs up these general ratios as being the target.  Regardless of whether your links are built all naturally or built by you or outsourced, if you keep to this ratio you will not run afoul of Google, and you will see your rankings increase.

When building these links, you may consider obtaining higher page rank or PR links for the first line item – the exact match phrase.  This will help pump a little more juice through that phrase.  When you combine that with the varied anchor text, adhering to these ratios, you have a winning formula for better rankings.

Finding the higher PR links is not always easy, but a good solution is to work with a private link brokering type of company.  These companies work with individual website owners and contract with them to place your links.  This can be helpful, as it gives you access to low cost, high quality links that are not publicly distributed.
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