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December 16, 2015

7 Ways to Vary Anchor Text

Photo Credit: Baitong333 via freedigitalphotos.net

Any excess can be bad for you. Optimization is one such thing. It’s hard to realize when you accidentally cross the fine line between optimization and over-optimization. Being in the SEO industry for a long time now, there have been innumerous instances where I came across the sentence, ”Keep your anchor text profile natural.” Easy to say, right? I mean it’s like telling a lazy person to exercise.

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In the early SEO days, you didn’t have to worry about this so much. You could easily plug in the keywords you wanted to rank and bang, you were set. It was much easier to rank on the SERPs then.

For instance, if you were the owner of a hair salon, you could use “expert hair treatment” in all your anchor text and could still easily rank.

But soon Google realized that people were stuffing keywords in their anchor text just for the sake of it, totally disregarding the concept of usefulness and good user experience. Hence, Google Penguin and Google Panda Updates came to the rescue. Soon after the rolling out of these updates, every spammy site that was stuffing keywords in its anchor text got hit. Since then, the issue of over-optimized anchor text has been in the forefront, with experts ranting all the time about the importance of having a natural backlink profile.

Before we go into the discussion of how you can vary your anchor text profile, let’s have a quick primer on what anchor text is.
Anchor text is simply the clickable text, underlined and highlighted in blue, which automatically redirects to another webpage when we click on it.

This can actually make or break your SEO campaign. In the pre-penguin scenario, Google used anchor text to judge the relevance of websites and now it uses anchor texts to penalize sites for spamming and optimization. If you continue to build links using the same anchor text, it becomes a sign of unnatural link building — something Google will definitely punish you for.

The search engine once famously penalized GoCompare for over-aggressively using link-building tactics. As a result, Google hit the site hard, causing an 80 percent drop in its traffic. The only way to save yourself from this is to diversify your anchor text, add a few words here and there once in a while.

This will make your anchor text profile look more natural. You need to make the search engines believe they are built to serve a purpose for users and not to fake SEO.

Let’s get to the main point now. How can we keep our anchor text profile diversified?

I am going to discuss five ways you could vary your anchor text.

7 Ways to Vary Anchor Text

Trust me, it is not that difficult. You just have to remember that your anchor text should be in context and related to the content and subject matter of your article. These tricks might help you:

Synonyms and Plurals

There are many variations in the English language. Just when you are sure you know every other word someone would use to reference your product, service or brand, you could be proved wrong. I would suggest using a thesaurus to find creative options that might fit.

The most popular and easiest way to vary your anchor text is to use words that have the same meaning.

For example, instead of using “hotels at cheap prices” you could go for something like, “best hotel deals.”

Using plurals is also a good alternative to slightly diversifying your anchor texts. For instance, instead of “hair treatment expert,” go for “hair treatment expertsb”

Long-tail keywords and keyword modifiers

Using this variation will also give you an added advantage of bringing targeted traffic to your site. This, in turn, will trigger your conversions. Additionally, you could add words like ‘as,’ ‘in,’ ‘the,’ ‘of”’ etc. to an exact match anchor text to transform it into a more natural looking hyperlink.

For example, instead of “cheap wedding gowns,” you could use “designer wedding gowns at best prices.”

Using keyword modifiers is also another great option. You can add word modifiers like “cheap,” “buy,” “deal” etc. to create long tail anchor text. For instance, instead of “hair treatment,” you could go for “advanced hair treatment” or ”expert hair treatment.”

Brand names 

Since search engines consider branding an important factor in judging the authenticity of sites, it is good to include your brand name in anchor text. This will also give you a link value. It’s a safe way to vary your anchor text unless your brand is an exact match domain.

You could use any of these versions:

  • Brand only: SEOagency
  • Added brand: SEO agency SEOfirm
  • Misspelled brand: SEO agncy
  • Personal brand: Michael Stark
  • Personal + name brand: Michael Stark of SEOagency
  • Generic or Natural Anchors

Though this type of anchor text is usually not the first choice of webmasters, it is a welcome treat when it comes to a natural looking backlink profile. Generic or natural anchor text like “Click here,” “Go here,” “Know more,” are tough to rank on, but they are most focused toward action. If used in the right context, users will be more apt to click on them.

Naked URLs 

This includes using raw URLs as anchor text. Using this type of anchor text makes it easy for users to know exactly where they would be redirected when they click on it. These anchors make your backlink profile look very natural.

Examples of these are: www.domain.com, domain.com and http://www.domain.com

Natural sentences

These can also be termed as phrase type anchor text. It means using natural sentences. For instance, “You should check out this hair salon which offers advanced hair treatments.” Here, the exact match keyword “advanced hair treatments” is included in a regular sentence. This type of anchor text is simple to understand for users and usually gets a green flag from search engines.

Images

You can host some great images on your site and use them to build links. These images could be inserted in guest blog posts, articles, banner ads etc. Using links with images will also help diversify your anchor text profile. Do not forget to add alt tag in all these images for optimization.

Varying your anchor text profile is not as difficult as you might think. Most webmasters still don’t realize its importance. It is high time you understand this, before your site witnesses a drop in its rankings.

These were my ideas to vary an anchor text. Do you have anything else in mind? Feel free to share them in the comments.


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Shivangi is a person who is always in for exploring and learning new things. She uses this inquisitiveness in the art of reading and writing and is always looking forward to things with her let's-do-it attitude. Currently she is working as a Content Analyst at Rankwatch

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