How to Diversify the Anchor Text of Links to Your Web Site

Lately, there have been a flurry of Google Algorithm updates that seem to be targeting the overall over-optimization of web sites. Not only if you over-optimize the content on your page, you will undoubtedly run into search engine rankings problems. But what happens if the anchor text that links to your web site from other sites is over-optimized? Well, you will also run into search engine ranking problems.

What is anchor text?
According to Wikipedia, “The anchor text, link label, link text, or link title is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. The words contained in the anchor text can determine the ranking that the page will receive by search engines.”. Anchor text is the traditionally blue, underlined “clickable text” that describes each link to a web site. For example, if your web site is about “red widgets”, then the text part of links to your web site may be “red widgets” when it appears on another web site. In many cases, the anchor text of links are a company’s name–and that is how they link to a company’s web site. You can run into search engine ranking problems if there is too many exact anchor text links with one particular keyword phrase that is linking to your web site.

Some of the latest Google algorithm changes involves the diversity of anchor text links that point to a web site or one particular web page. If you have too much of one keyword phrase in the anchor text, which tends to be around 60 percent or higher, there will be issues. When I say 60 percent, that is referring to the overall percentage of anchor text links. So, if you have 100 links to your web site, and 60 of them say “red widgets” and point to your web site, then that’s 60 percent of the anchor text for “red widgets”. Based on research around the latest Google algorithms, you would not want more than 60 percent of the links pointing to your web site with “red widgets”. Anything higher than that may be an issue.

Most companies and brands do not generally have a problem with a diversity of anchor text links–most of their links tend to be brand or company related, linking to their web site with “their brand name” or “their company name” in the anchor text. However, if your brand name or company name includes keywords related to the keyword phrases that you are targeting in your search engine optimization efforts, you may have run into search engine ranking problems–or your rankings have gone down in the past several months.

How do you diversify your anchor text links?
First, you need to take a look at the list of anchor text links to your web site. You can download the links to your web site using Open Site Explorer or Majestic SEO. I prefer Majestic SEO, especially since you can verify your web site and download all of your links without a monthly fee. Download the links, sort the anchor text alphabetically, and start counting up the links with a certain keyword phrase to your web site. If your overall percentage of anchor text for that keyword phrase is higher than 60 percent, then you need to diversify your anchor text links.

Take a look at the links pointing to your web site. Are there any links that have the exact anchor text of a keyword phrase that you could possibly get changed? Instead of saying “red widgets” a link could say “widgets that are red” or even “best red widgets” or simply “widgets”. That would be a change from the exact anchor text of “red widgets”, especially if you have lost rankings recently for “red widgets”.

If you are noticing an overall slide of your rankings across a lot of keyword phrases, then your issue might still be anchor text–especially if your company name includes your keywords or if your web site includes your keywords. For example, there might be an issue with “redwidgets.com” ranking for “red widgets” if the site has too many “red widgets” links. In this case, again you’ll want to take a look at your web site’s links–and start diversifying your links with more generic keyword phrases. For example, here is a list of keywords that you could use in your anchor text links, especially if your web site includes too many brand-related keyword phrases:

click here
web site
website
my company
our company
the company
our web site
our website
the web site
the website
about the company
about our company
about my company
about my website
about my web site
about our web site
about our company
learn more
read more
click here for details
click here for more information
click here for more info
click here to purchase
purchase now
buy now
click here to visit their site
click here to visit their website
click here to visit their web site
click here to visit the site
click here to visit the website
click here to visit the web site
contact
contact us
details
more details
here

http://www.yourwebsite.com/

www.yoursite.com
learn more
learn more about companyname
companyname – learn more
find out more about companyname
link
visit this link
go here
official website
official site
official web site
shop now
shop
view site
view web site
view website
view the site
view the website
view the web site
view their site
view their website
visit our site
visit our website
visit our web site

This list above is actually just the beginning of keywords that can be used to help diversify the links to your web site. These examples are “real world” examples, from the anchor text of a large brand who has not suffered any search engine ranking issues from any of the latest Google algorithm updates, such as the Google Penguin or Google Panda update. Certainly, this example web site has plenty of exact match anchor text keywords pointing to their web site from other sites–but it’s the diversity of anchor text links, having additional “generic” phrases pointing ot their site, that has made their web site virtually search engine “algorthim proof”.

Comments

  1. steveax says

    “click here”, “here”, “read more” This is the sort of thing that makes me crazy about SEO wonks. Do you have any idea how useless that linked text is for screenreader users? Screenreaders allow users to scan links and this is a common way for AT users to navigate. Linked text like “click here” is useless for those users as well as sighted users. Please read up on how to provide useful linked text to all users:

    http://jimthatcher.com/news-061607.htm

    http://www.w3.org/TR/2012/NOTE-WCAG20-TECHS-20120103/H30.html

    Until the SEO industry starts valuing users more than google’s spiders they will remain IMHO a scourge upon the internet.

  2. says

    I totally understand the frustration, steveax.

    “click here” is definitely pretty useless and should be something else that describes the links. The problems arise for people who “SEO” web sites because they’re trying to get too much targeted anchor text links to their site. It’s more about getting “natural” traffic and earning links to web sites, not “optimizing” and “over optimizing” anchor text links.

    A web site that naturally earns links is, unfortunately, going to see “click here” types of links to their site. That’s just “natural”.

  3. steveax says

    OK, but why encourage people to use such unfriendly linked text, viz:

    “For example, here is a list of keywords that you could use in your anchor text links, especially if your web site includes too many brand-related keyword phrases:”

  4. says

    The focus should be on what is natural–and people do use “click here” (which is a direct call to action) to visit a link. People still use it and expect it. Hopefully there will be words before or after “click here” that provides some sort of context so someone can actually determine what they will find when they “click here”.

  5. steveax says

    Bill,

    That was exactly my point about screenreader users. The screenreader software scan the page and identifies links, then puts that into a buffer that users can scan. The list in the buffer provides just the link text and the URL. AT users often skim pages this way (as do sighted users), but AT users don’t have easy access to the context and will just get: “link: click here”. Perhaps you can imagine how frustrating it would be to get a page full of “click here”. Read the Thatcher article.

    Cheers,

    -S

  6. says

    Steveax, I understand your point here. However, keep in mind that this actually may actually be the fault of how AT users are accessing the links, because, as you mention, “AT users don’t have easy access to the context”. That’s just not “normal”. If “regular users” (i.e., sighted users) got a list of links like that they wouldn’t like it. And we’ve proven already that people don’t like lists of useless links.