Choosing the right anchor texts is a very important part of your SEO and link building campaign. The anchor text you choose to use can make or break your website. You need to make sure to create an anchor text strategy that maximizes your chance of getting to the top of Google while at the same time minimizing the risk of getting struck by a penalty. Using an ill-conceived anchor text strategy is one of the fastest ways to get your site penalized in Google.
Different types of anchor text
Let’s start by looking at a few different types of anchor texts.
A naked anchor is when you use your URL or part of the URL as anchor text for a link. Example of naked anchors includes example.com, www.example.com, http://www.example.com and so on. Naked anchors are generally very safe to use and you will normally not get a penalty for using naked anchors.
A branded anchor is when you use your site name as an anchor text for a link. Examples of branded anchors include Youtube, Starbucks, MacDonalds etc. Your brand does not have to be big for you to use a branded anchor. Branded anchors are generally safe to use as long as your brand is not identical with the keyword you want to rank for.
Be very restrictive with the use of branded anchors if you are using an exact match domain.
The keyword anchor is an anchor text that is the exact same term that you want to rank for. IE if you want your website to reach the top of the search engines for dog training then dog training is the keyword anchor. Be very restrictive in your usage of these links. Only use keyword anchors on very strong pages.
You should keep the number of keyword anchors very low. You should normally try to avoid using them for more than 4% of your links and no more than 10 links in total. It does not matter how many links you have in total. You should never have more than 10 keywords anchors. The more links you have the lower percentage should be keyword anchors.
Long tail anchors
Long tail anchors are phrases that contain your target keyword as well one or several other words. This includes anchors such as dog training DVD, learn dog training, dog training in New York and other similar keywords. These anchors are a great way to increase the variety of your link profile while still including your main keyword. They are also a very good way to target different long tail keywords and bring more traffic to your website.
I personally recommend using each long tail anchor only once. There are thousands of different combinations you can use and the more variation you can create in your link profile the better.
Using a lot of long tails and partial match anchors (see below) is especially important if you try to rank a very competitive term such as gambling related keywords. This allows you to have your main keyword in a lot of links without risking a penalty. Let’s say you want to promote a site such as this about casino bonuses. If so you can use keywords such “free casino bonus”, “no deposit casino bonus”, “casino bonus codes”, “best casino bonuses”, “top online casino bonuses”, “Casino brand casino bonus” and so on. You can create an almost unlimited number of different anchors with this technique allowing you to have a very large variation in your link profile while still focusing on your main keywords.
Partial match anchors
Partial match anchors are anchors that contain a part of your main keyword but not the entire word or phrase. An example of this would be how to train your dog. It is related to dog training and contains part of the main keyword but not the complete keyword.
Partial match anchors is another very good way to create a lot of variation in your link profile because there is no limit to the number of variations you can create.
I personally try to make 40-50% of all links partial match or long tail anchors. This is more than many other SEO professionals would recommend but it works very well if you make sure to never use the same anchor twice.
Generic anchors are anchors that do not contain your URL, main keyword, brand or other listed above. Examples of generic keywords include “click here”, “this website” etc. These anchors are very safe and I recommend you use them a lot to create a varied link profile.
You can use linked images without alt text to create empty anchors. This is another good way to add more variation to your link profile. Most natural links profiles have 1-2% empty anchors.
Vary your anchors
It is very important to vary your anchors when you build links. Do not build several with the same anchor at the same time. Vary the keyword between each link you build and make sure to build at least 10 links before you reuse an anchor. I recommend that you try to vary your anchors as much as possible and try to avoid ever using the same anchors more than once.
Do not forget your subpages
I also recommend that you build links to both main and subpages. Most natural link profiles will contain a large percentage of links to subpages. I suggest that you try to mimic this whenever possible. I try to have at least 2 or 3 money pages on each website. This allows me to point links to the main page as well as my other money pages. This creates a natural link profile while at the same time giving me great ROI when building links.