Anchor text has become a hot button issue ever since Google rolled out the initial bit of its Penguin update in April. I’ve been warning of the dangers of over optimization for awhile now and one of the biggest culprits involved comes in the form of anchor text. It goes against the nature of what most SEOers have been taught in that it preaches to not use keyword rich anchor texts much of the time. Google doesn’t need anchor text to determine what a page’s content is about and too much keyword rich anchor text just doesn’t look natural – the biggest error you can make today in SEO.
But let’s not get confused when I say “keyword rich” anchor text. This article is going to talk about the 3 types of anchor text/link text you can use to link to your site. Any keyword you can possibly think of falls into one of these 3 categories, so let’s identify each so you can get a better idea of what type of keyword you should be using as your anchor text in different scenarios when linking to your site.
Generic Keywords – These are keywords which have nothing to do with anything. Examples of generic keywords include “click here”, “check this out”, “read this article”, or even something somewhat contextual like “see why”. Generic keywords are the easiest to use naturally and consequently are the safest to use, particularly in situations where you’re building your own links to your site. Aim for somewhere in the 45% ratio for using generic keywords as anchor text compared to other types.
Branding Keywords – First we have branding keywords which are simply keywords which are those which relate to your site’s web address, business name, product name, etc. These keywords are fine to use because just like generic keywords they are natural and genuinely relate to your business. Additionally these are all keywords which more or less belong to you in that its for your business, so you SHOULD be ranking for these keywords naturally without much help. Aim for the 35% ration for branding keywords.
Targeted Keywords – This is where the red flags are raised because targeted keywords are typically only used with the express purpose of raising your ranking. This is why Google can so easily take issue with them and use them against you now to easily spot the SEOers who are trying to game the system and get one up on Google. Targeted keywords should easily be the least used anchor text option and you should aim for one in five or 20% or below for these targeted keywords and even then be sure to mix them up with LSI keywords to fulfill that 20%.
Make sense? Fortunately this is all pretty much intuitive when you think about it. Any webmaster linking to your site from theirs is going to use either branding keywords related to your site or generic keywords; the vast majority of the time they’re not going to go out of their way to try to use any kind of targeted keyword for your site. A few here or there are perfectly fine, particularly from high PR sites, but for the vast majority of your links which you create yourself you’re going to go with one of the first two types of anchor text.
Note that the percentages I offer for each type are by no means hard set rules but more just loose guidelines to keep in mind to keep you from overusing one or another.