If your goal is to attract new visitors and grow your audience, you should start by trying to grow non branded search traffic to your website. What exactly does that mean? Non branded search traffic comes to your website using keywords that do not include anything related to your brand. In order to attract this type of traffic to your website, you need to first determine the keywords you want your website to rank for in the search engines. You can then start to rank for those keywords by building backlinks with anchor text that includes some variation of those keywords that you want to rank for.
When someone refers to “anchor text” they are referring to the characters and words that are displayed when linking out to another website on the web. In this example above there are two hyperlinks with anchor text. The example of anchor text is “Chicago and SEO” and the second example is “website audit”
The main ways that search engines use anchor text, is to help determine what the subject matter of the linked page is about. In the example I showed above, the website audit anchor text is meant to tell the search engines that the content of the linked document covers the topic of a website audit. If a wide variety of websites use a similar set of keywords to describe that particular page, that page will start to rank for that particular keyword in the search engine results.
There has been some debate within the search industry on how much anchor text still effects 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 suggests that, domain strength is not enough for an individual page to rank without some sort of keyword targeted anchor text. This study examined over 255 websites, and their findings showed that exact match anchor text links still have some influence when found on relevant placements within competitive niches. There was also a correlation with results on page one that have at least one keyword rich anchor text link and its ability to rank highly for that specific keyword. Rand Fishkin of the SEO consulting company Moz, recently listed 20 attributes that influences a links value and listed anchor text as the #1 attribute. He believes there is still a strong value in anchor text backlinks and that they move the needle more than links without any targeted anchor text. He 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.
Having a strong and diverse set of anchor text in your backlink profile is an essential component to modern SEO. Google has put a strong emphasis on the diversity of your of your profile and the quality of your backlinks. Anchor text diversity can come in many forms such as branded anchors (your website name), generic anchors (click here, this website, this infographic), author links (your name), exact match links (‘website audit’), partial matches (‘mobile website audit’) and naked URL’s. (http://yourdomain.com). This infographic from Ahrefs has a cool breakdown of what anchor text distribution should look like.
Building backlinks with anchor text is one way you can help your website achieve higher rankings for non branded terms. Improving the rankings of keywords other than your brand name, will help to attract new audiences to your site while building your customer portfolio and increasing the bottom line of your business. Not everyone looking for your services know’s your name, so growing your non-branding traffic helps on a local level too. Download our guide that covers all of the local search improvements you can make to help rank better for your key search terms in Chicago and surrounding areas.