In recent times it’s become clear that targeting just one or two keyword anchors is a sure-fire way to get your website penalised. Part of Google’s Penguin update, this algorithm change meant that paying particular attention was going to be paid to how natural your backlink profile appeared.
Although this did initially cause some problems for certain sites, it’s hard to disagree that this update was anything but good for the longevity of SEO. Any natural-looking profile (i.e. one that has had no ‘link building’ work done on it) would have mainly brand anchors, links that are just to ‘www.yoursite.com’, or maybe even on a ‘click here’ thrown in for good measure.
What is a natural anchor-text blend?
The thing is, even though every SEO ‘expert’ will tell you that you need to have a natural-looking link profile, it seems that nobody really knows what the ideal percentages are to make this happen.
It’s fair to say however that while most sites will already have a small proportion of naturally-acquired branded links if they have done any SEO work then their anchor-text phrases are potentially outweighing what would appear in a natural profile. It’s in these situations where sites have seen drops in their rankings, and maybe even required a programme of link removal to help them recover.
It varies by industry
One of the best places to start, if you are looking to make your backlink profile appear more natural then you should check what your competitors are doing. Your profile and website both should be up to date so that it can compete in the online world. If you have seen any drop in rankings yet one of your main competitors is still sitting pretty for similar target keywords, then running a backlink checker on them using one of the many tools available will allow you to analyse what kind of activity they have been doing to remain so successful.
As with many factors in SEO, all industries are different and you’re likely to see a different percentage of targeted anchors being effective in finance sectors than those in the travel industry for example.
It varies by the type of page you want to rank
There have been numerous studies into anchor-text distribution, but one on SEO Moz relatively recently suggested that it can vary depending on what type of page on the site is undergoing link building work.
While overall a fairly successful blend was around 1/3rd targeted anchors (SEO keywords in exact match and phrases) and 2/3rds natural (i.e. brand and everything else ) on a large business site, it also found that for category pages this was only around one-quarter targeted anchors compared to three-quarters natural terms. Furthermore, product pages had significantly higher anchor-text to be effective, with an almost half-half split working here.
What should you do next?
If you are concerned about the performance of your website and are worried about your anchor text being over-optimised, then Manual Link Building can run an audit of your site to help determine whether you need to clean up your backlink profile.
If we find that this is required, we offer services such as link removal – to get rid of the offending links, to branded link building to help neutralize your site’s profile and help it appear more natural to those all-important search engines.
Austin K is an blogger and influencer outreach expert at Megri Blogger Outreach Services in New York and London. He writes about the latest developments in digital marketing and focuses his efforts on innovating customized blogger outreach plans for brands, business,es and startups depending on the industry and competition.