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Strategies for Improving Anchor Text and Links

Since building my first links back in 1998, I've always seen the same upward trend with rankings occur with websites using good anchor text variations.

Using your primary keywords should alway be in the forefront, but taking into account the "natural" aspect of indexing and sorting from the search engines should be the goal. If you look too structured and one-sided with your anchor text link it can potentially cause problems with rankings over time. Here are some simple steps to improve your on-page and external anchor text choices:

  1. Always use a mixture of anchor text in forums, blogs, wiki's, and social sites. If you are a PHP web hosting company the goal should not be to build lots of links with only the anchor text link pointing to "PHP web hosting" or limit it to even the top few of what you believe to be your top converting keywords.
  2. Know your anchor text distribution weights externally and use that information to help fine tune changes with external anchors. Most good tracking software will give you the ability to track referring keywords and the website source they came from. We've used Agent Interactive before but I'm sure there are other better softwares out there. The key is to be able to read and measure the anchor text being used on all external websites and rank them by weight. Google released a similar anchor text tool in their Webmaster Tools section that looks at external inbound links more closely.
  3. Remember that even non-related keywords are important. Keywords like "click here" and "read more" are important if someone is referencing a web page and count as backlinks, just not descriptive ones.
  4. Build relevant breadcrumb anchors and navigation links on the landing pages  your most important inbound links are pointing to. Search engines discover and rank related content within your pages based on anchors and formatting used for the links on that page. Keep it relevant!
  5. A good idea that you should ask yourself (of course plugging in your keyword with the example given below) would be: The visitor or engine referral you just received got there via the anchor text "PHP hosting for Drupal." Do you have other related links on the page to similar content? What does your breadcrumb or sidebar anchors text links look like? Are you utilizing deep linking methods within pages with proper anchors? I'd suggest for you to disect your outbound links and linking navigation on that page and look for improvements!
  6. Successful linking always comes from looking at it from the user's perspective. Smart IT Consulting has a great list of anchor text attributes like topical and alternate anchors that look a little more closely at the atanomy of a link.

Let me know if you can point out some other useful anchors text strategies we've missed above.

3 Comments

Anonymous's picture

Single Grain (not verified)

June 25th, 2007

One thing you didnt mention was the power of the link. Often times it good to look for the most powerful(more backlinks and most relevent to your keyword/site) page. Its pretty easy to check by using "link:" to the page or using a tool like SEOmoz's Pagestrength tool. Just my 2cents

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Anonymous's picture

Anonymous (not verified)

May 16th, 2008

I post on BBS and Forums a lot.
I had two thousand posts on one forum w/o using anchor text in my signature.
One day, I read about anchor text, and changed my signature to anchor text links,'
Since I have 2000 posts, it changed ALL my past posts signature line as well.
I dropped 7 places, from number one to number 8.
Gogle did not appreciate 2000 anchor text links added so fast.

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Anonymous's picture

james (not verified)

December 15th, 2008

Good post ! But i would like to add one more point here that is, Keyword research for "Anchor Text" variation.i think one should always prefer the relevant but less competitive keyword for Anchor text.

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