Anchor Text Linking Strategies in a Post Penguin World

Anchor Text Linking Strategies in a Post Penguin World

Anchor Text Linking Strategies in a Post Penguin World

In 2012, following Google’s Penguin release, a lot of SEO’s started to change their anchor text linking strategies due to penalties from Google for over optimization of anchor text. Ultimately, I believe this change is for the better. Although, there were a lot of businesses devastated by this unforeseen update.

Now, exact-match phrases and keyword rich anchor text should no longer be the only goals of creating a successful inbound link portfolio for any website. Plain words and phrases also should be worked into the mix as well. Terms like:

  • “click here”
  • “this website”
  • Even typing out the URL: “”

If you think about, these types of links appear more natural because the average internet user who is telling a friend about XYZ company/product/service will not always use keyword rich verbiage as anchor text because they simply don’t know or care and why should they.

You don’t have to speculate long before understanding that this change gives Google a better, more honest understanding of value and weight they should give to a website. Unfortunately, the jury is still out as to why Google’s official SEO Starter Guide still states that you should not use generic words: “Avoid writing generic anchor text like “page”, “article”, or “click here”.”

Traditionally, keywords or descriptive text passes relevancy points to the page being linked to. For example, let’s say you decided to link to this webpage using the words “Organic SEO“, search engines like Google could decide that this particular page talks about Organic SEO, and position it better within search results for that phrase.

My experience and research as well as the feedback from many webmasters is that you will likely get penalized for over-optimization of exact-match anchor text. However, there is absolutely no evidence that using generic anchor text causes any problems (although the value passed through to a page diminishes considerably).

Because inbound links are the “meat and potatoes” of most SEO campaigns, we need to take an in-depth look at this change and what we can do to meet these grey expectations. So, we took a look at backlink profile of a website with favorable search engine positioning for their industry terms and we found that there was a variety of anchor text:

  • Exact and partial match (no-follow and follow) – 40%
  • URL links – 30%
  • Generic links – 30%

Remember, anchor text needs to be helpful for your reader while effectively explaining exactly what the page links to. Yes, the days of  using “Best Divorce Lawyer Pittsburgh, PA” for 100% of your link campaigns are over. So, now the big question is, how do you switch up your anchor text? Here’s some alternative suggestions.

  1. SynonymsMy favorite stop for finding synonyms.
  2. Partial Match – Use one of your keywords from your keyword phrase. So, if your keyword phrase is “Cheap Blue Widgets”, then the partial match could be “Cheap”. Don’t overuse as it just may come back to haunt you.
  3. Name of Company – Company names are safe. I can use Harlandhills as much as I like without concern. However, if your company name happens to be “Wisconsin Electronics” then tread with caution until you have safely made it through the woods as search engines could classify your efforts as spam.
  4. Peoples Names – People rarely overuse this method. It’s a good idea to revisit your profile page before using this suggestion!
  5. URL – Typing out the full URL of a webpage. Sometimes this is actually necessary for programming purposes.

The bottom line here folks is that both the content and links used within the content should primarily be created for the user reading it. Please, use common sense and white-hat SEO practices.


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