The Great Debate – Anchor Text: What Is The Best Strategy?
Description: Anchor text obviously matters when it comes to rankings. But what is the best way to use it? This post seeks to uncover the truth.
In the SEO community, there’s an ongoing debate on how to use “anchor text” most effectively. However, it is generally accepted that using anchor text for your backlinks has a big influence on rankings. This article is going to talk about the debate and put forth what I think is the best strategy.
In case you don’t know what anchor text is… it’s the text that appears over a hyperlink. So in this example…
…the words “Search Engine Marketing Melbourne” are the anchor text. The way you make this anchor text can depend on where you are placing your link and what kind of code that site accepts. Most of the time you will use html, but if you are placing a link on a forum, for example, you will use “BBCode”. When you’re ready to place a link, all you need to do is do a Google search for “anchor text html” or “anchor text BBCode” and you will find the appropriate way to place a link. It is quite easy.
When it comes to rankings, it is generally accepted that Google ranks pages higher for specific keywords when the link is using that keyword as the anchor text. For example, in the example above, it would be best to use the anchor text of “Search Engine Marketing Melbourne” to rank for the keyword, “Search Engine Marketing Melbourne.”
Having that in mind, you want to try to use anchor text as much as possible. Much of the controversy around anchor text has to do with what “looks natural” to Google. Because some say, when your actions don’t look natural to Google, then your actions look engineered and Google will penalize you. And the theory is that Google would rather rank your site on “organic popularity” instead of your hard work of placing links and marketing your site around the web.
If you ask me, the action of making anchor text is “unnatural” in itself. Especially if it’s coming from a page where the author or source needs to use html to make that happen. But I suppose Google does not think this way. In fact, they have an “operator” in their search engine, “allinanchor:” that will show the top results for the sites that have the term as their anchor text. They obviously value it. Furthermore, placing the keyword term as the anchor text often times makes no sense.
And when it comes to “varying” anchor text, clearly it looks more natural to not use the same keyword every time. But don’t vary it. Based on extensive testing in this area, Google has clearly encouraged webmasters to act “unnaturally” because using the same anchor text (your target keyword) on all your links is what is the most effective in terms of rankings.
Google’s algorithm is not as advanced as many give it credit to be. When you place varying anchor text, Google gets confused. Almost like they’re saying, “you don’t want to rank for that term? OK, down in the rankings you go.”
Long story short, place anchor text when you can and always use your target keyword for that page, every time.