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Understanding Anchor Text for Better SEO

Learn about the different types of anchor text used in link building and how to avoid over-optimization. Analyze your backlink profile using tools like Link Research Tools, Semrush, and Moz to improve your online presence.

Working in a search agency, it’s important for us to analyse a prospected clients back link profile to identify what keywords they are targeting with what anchor text terms, and the volume of inbound links using the anchor text.

If you’re unfamiliar with what anchor text actually is, it’s simply the clickable hyperlink used in content to refer/drive a user to another page or website.

Anchor Text

There are a number of different types of anchor text that is used when building links:

Branded Anchor text

Branded anchor text includes any link that is a brand name (Howbiz Solutions), URL or domain (howbiz.ca). It is important to build a solid presence of branded anchor text in your back link profile. Google basically wants to see brand referrals in content, opposed to targeted keywords, as it looks more natural.

Exact Match Anchor Text

Exact match anchor text is now frowned upon and can be considered over optimization. This refers to the words in the links (anchor text), exactly matching the keywords that you are trying to rank for. If you have a keyword, let’s say ‘SEO’ that is the H1 on your home page, included in your page title and contains a high volume of inbound links containing the anchor text ‘SEO‘, expect a visit from the Google.

Many SEOs or webmasters will use ‘money’ or ‘targeted’ anchor text to build links without over optimising their website. You just need to be careful that you don’t over do it with volume, H tags and other content within your site.

Compound Anchor Text

Compound, also commonly known as ‘partial match anchor text’, is used when the link contains the brand or targeted term, in addition to other words that you aren’t targeting. For example, is you use a brand name in conjunction with some other words – ‘Howbiz Solutions SEO services provide a custom strategy for each individual client’.

White Noise Anchor Text

Also commonly referred to as ‘zero match anchor text’, white noise uses call to actions to drive users to targeted pages, such as, click here to follow us on LinkedIn. It’s acceptable to have a small percentage of white noise terms in your back link profile.

So now that you have a basic understanding of the different anchor text terms, let’s look at an example. Below is a metric comparison taken from an analysis I did when conducting a competitor analysis in Link Research Tools:

When looking at this data, it’s easily identifiable that this potential client is heavily over optimised. The orange column in the table is for the website I was analysing and the green was their competitors.

The client back link profile contains 86% money/exact match anchor text and only 7% branded. This scream over optimisation!

The immediate competition (2 websites) were the complete opposite, with 55% branded and only 28% money/exact match anchor text on average.

Each both had their small percentages of compound and white noise (other) anchor text, which is fine and looks somewhat natural in the eyes of Google. But if you have 86% of exact match anchor text pointing at your site, that isn’t  natural.

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