Anchor text. What is it? Simple. When you link to a site, the text used in the link is the anchor text. Here is a link to my website. The anchor text of that link is “my website”. Get it? Great.
So why does it matter? Well, anchor text is used by search engines to determine the pages relevance. A keyword typed into Google is going to return relevant results. How does Google know those results are relevant? Well, hopefully the content is relevant, but what happens when there are millions of other pages with similar content? That’s where anchor text helps Google determine which site is MOST relevant.
Anchor text links are the backbone of SEO. If you want to rank for fairy pumpkin pie land, you should build links to your site using the anchor text “fairy pumpkin pie land”. However, how many people would actually link to your website naturally with your exact anchor text?
We can relate this to real estate. You want to rank for City homes for sale, but is that how you would naturally get links? Not usually, as most people link your URL, your brand, your name, or perhaps the inevitable “Click Here”. Natural linking is hard to get people to do, and it’s even harder to get natural links with your exact anchor text preference. This is the reason Blackhat and Grey hat SEO exists. It’s used to manipulate rankings using the correct anchor text or people buy links with their anchor text.
In a perfect world, i.e. Google’s world, no one would link to their sites trying to manipulate anchor text, but let’s be honest, this just doesn’t happen. Everybody does it unless you have an already established website. However, if you don’t have an established website, or you’re trying to get rankings for your keywords, you have no choice but to actively seek out links that will help you get rankings.
But, if you get caught trying to manipulate anchor text, you could get your site filtered algorithmically, or, in a worst case scenario, de-indexed by a Google engineer. Which leads me to the point of this post:
Natural SEO Is All About Anchor Text
1. – Keep It Natural
A normal anchor text profile would be extremely diverse. People would naturally link different types of anchor texts to a website as well as inner pages. Which means that if you plan on linking to your site, you need to mimic a natural link profile to the best of your ability. When I do link building, I like to follow these guidelines when linking to a client site:
- 20/30% Exact Match Anchor Text
If you want to rank for a keyword, you obviously have to have exact keywords on the page as well as links coming to your site with those preferred keywords as the anchor. This is not new and will likely never change (at least until Google figures out social) in the near future. Make sure you get your keywords in your anchor text about 20 to 30 percent of the time to let Google know your site is related to that keyword.
- 20/30% Phrase Match Anchor Text
Phrase match anchor text is something like this: “check out this cool city state real estate website” – The anchor text “city state real estate” is an exact phrase match of our desired keyword, but there are other words in there as well. Having this type of anchor text with many different variations to your website is a natural way people would link to your site.
- 40/60% Random/Brand/URL Anchor Text
This one is big and it’s more important than ever. Google is giving preference to strong brands, and branding your website is not easy. Making sure you use your brand in your anchor text will help you establish your site as a brand. This is one of the reasons why exact match domain names are easier to rank for the desired keyword than non exact match domains. If you have an exact domain name “www.cityrealestate.com” it would only seem natural then that most of your links would have the mention of your URL’s brand giving you more leeway.
2. – What do you mean by branding anchor text?
Branding your website with anchor text is as simple as using the URL or the main site name as your anchor text. For example, my website is http://pursuittroop.com/. My brand is “Pursuit Troop” and it would be natural to have anchor text relating to my brand as the most linked to phrase. As a real estate agent, you have your brokerage name. Branding your site with your brokerage name would therefore be natural and a great way to build your brand.
3. – What proof do you have?
I’ve done a nice bit of testing on my own sites as well as client sites with this theory. Sites that have a 50% or better brand type link profile rank much better across the board than those sites who have obvious link anchor text manipulation. The weird thing is, those sites with obvious anchor text manipulation usually rank pretty well for the targeted anchor text, but they seem to be filtered/throttled on long tail and keyword variances. It makes sense if you think about it. The unnatural link profile causes Google to lose trust with your site which would make the site less visible.
When you think about sites that dominate in the real estate vertical, you see the big brands everywhere. Yahoo Real Estate, Realtor.com, Zillow.com, and Trulia.com are in almost every real estate keyword you search. These big brands have paid big money to brand their sites, and Google loves a big brand. Follow the leaders if you want to play the game of SEO. Leaders in real estate are branding and you should be to.
4. – Websites in the top 5 seem to have a nice varied anchor text profile.
Is your website stuck in positions 6-15? Have you been building links with only your keywords? This could be the reason you’re stuck and not making it into the top 5 for your keywords. In my studies, I’ve found that more times than not, (and I mean a lot more), those sites sitting in the top 5 tend to have a heavier brand anchor profile than a specific anchor text linking profile. It makes sense and it shows in just about every search market when I look at the competition. The only difference is if the site as the keywords in the domain name.
Conclusion – Keep it natural baby! When you’re building you own links to your site, be sure to mix it up about 50/50. Use your URL, use your name, use your brokerage name, use different combinations of anchor text with phrase matches, and you will see your once stagnant rankings move up the ranks as your link profile becomes more diverse. I’ve seen it happen many times, and I’m sure you will to.