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The Importance of Anchor Text Diversity

By Matt Zajechowski

If your goal is to attract new visitors and grow your audience you should start by bringing non-branded search traffic to your website. What exactly does that mean?

Branded anchor text highlights your business name over a link. Non-branded search traffic comes to your website by using keywords unrelated to your brand. In order to attract non-branded traffic to your website you need to determine the keywords you want to rank for. Then, by building backlinks with anchor text that includes some variation of those target keywords, your website’s ranking for those keywords can increase.

What Is Anchor Text?

Anchor text is the characters and words that display in hyperlinked text when linking out to another page or website.

anchor text example

In the example above, there is a hyperlink with anchor text. The anchor text is “still consume.” It contains an external link (a link that directs users to another website) to a page that has content about the current consumption of traditional media.

How Does Anchor Text Influence Search Engine Rankings?

The main way search engines use anchor text is to determine what the subject matter of the linked page is. In the previous example, “still consume” tells search engines that the content of the linked document is about how people still consume traditional media.

If multiple websites all use similar keywords to describe the same page, the page will have a higher likelihood of ranking for those keywords. This is an example of anchor text in external links affecting SEO.

Search engines utilize external anchor text to help determine what your page is about. Although the same concept applies to internal linking, search engines can also gauge the authority of a website and incorporate that when ranking your site. Generally, the higher authority a website has, the more value the link has. Though, there’s no exact measurement of how likely a page will rank.

Are Anchor Text Links Frowned Upon?

There has been some debate within the search industry on how much anchor text profiles still affect search engine rankings. Way back in the early 2000s Google weighted anchor text backlinks as an extremely high-ranking signal within its algorithm.

Today anchor text, while not as powerful as it once was, is still a strong attribute in determining search result rankings. Results of a recent case study by Ahrefs suggest that domain strength is not enough for an individual page to rank without some sort of keyword-targeted anchor text.

The Ahrefs anchor text study examined more than 255 websites. It found that exact match anchor text links have some influence when found on relevant placements within competitive niches. It also found a correlation between page one search results and pages with at least one keyword-rich anchor text link.

Rand Fishkin of the SEO consulting company Moz, recently listed 20 attributes that influence a link’s value. Anchor text was listed as the #1 attribute. Fishkin believes there is strong value in anchor text backlinks. He says adding them can move the needle more than links without any targeted anchor text will.

Fishkin does caution that ‘exact match’ anchor links should be kept to a minimum. Saying that too many exact match anchor links will likely lead to Google penalizing your website.

The Importance Of Anchor Text Diversity

Having a strong and diverse set of anchor text in your backlink profile is an essential component of modern SEO. Google has put a strong emphasis on the diversity of your profile and the quality of your backlinks. In addition, it’s important to avoid keyword stuffing and using only exact-match links. That can be seen as an attempt to manipulate search engines.

Anchor text diversity can come in many forms:

  • Branded anchors: your website name
  • Generic anchors: “click here,” “this website,” “this infographic”
  • Author links: your name
  • Exact match links: “website audit”
  • Partial match anchors: “mobile website audit”
  • Naked URLs: http://yourdomain.com

The type of anchor text can vary depending on the goal and author. This infographic from Ahrefs has a cool breakdown of what anchor text distribution should look like.

anchor-text-distribution-infographic

Building backlinks with anchor text is one way you can help your website achieve higher rankings for non-branded terms. Improving keyword rankings other than your brand name will help to attract new audiences to your site. It can also help build your customer portfolio and increase the bottom line of your business.

Not everyone looking for your services knows your name, so growing your non-branding traffic helps on a local level too.