For years, Google made it super easy to rank for any target keyword (if you knew how).
They used anchor text (the text you use to link from one page to another) as a powerful signal of relevance.
So, all we did was choose the keyword we wanted to rank for and link like crazy with it.
Thankfully, those days are over, but here’s something: it can still be a powerful tactic if used correctly (I’ll show you how in this post).
Plus, I’ll also give you an example of how the foolish still make a mess of it!
Now, let’s talk about what’s changed with anchors over the last few years, so you can use them to your advantage.
And, in practice, it still is to some extent, but they overrated it as a ranking factor and got spammed to hell.
Sadly, we still see ‘experts’ preaching about its importance, which means we get clients panicking about what anchor text to use in their campaigns.
In fairness, we still ask for anchor keywords when setting up a campaign, but it’s only to partially guide us on their use.
So now I’ll tell you how to use anchor text the right way
First, you’ve got to know what Google hates.
That is anchor text for links that don’t inform the user of what’s on the other side.
Easy fix 🙂
The linking paragraph needs to be in harmony with the link within it.
E.g. Our new red glitter shoes are all the rage in Manhattan. You can find them all in our new range of red shoes here.
Et voila, the link is linking to a page full of their new range of red shoes.
Now, you don’t need to link to every word – but you should link to the words that identify what is behind the link – in this case ‘new range of red shoes here’.
Here’s where the SEO laggards still go horribly wrong
Check out this example of a link placement.
“Our new red glitter shoes are all the rage in Manhattan. You can find our new range of red glitter shoes Manhattan here.”
It reads all wrong, but people still do this because they are desperate to rank for the key phrase “red glitter shoes Manhattan” and believe that this exact match anchor tactic still works.
Google has got really smart with its understanding of text (see Google Bert update), so there’s no need to use words in the same order that someone who is searching would.
It also knows which keywords get the highest search volume, and it isn’t beyond them to spot that someone may be attempting to manipulate them if the exact keywords in anchors are used over and over.
If someone does this for more than a few links, then they should expect those links not to have any impact or worse, get them a nasty penalty.
And it’s no use relying on software that suggests 1% or 5% exact match anchors or whatever, because those tools that attempt to work out anchor text tolerances cannot see whether the sites it is analysing have disavowed those links. Think about that one. Add to that the fact that Google has different tolerances for different niches and you have a tough job guessing.
Your best bet is to avoid having the same anchor more than a few times and just focus on the context that the link is placed within, rather than using the actual keyword to link. Google will easily work out why the link is present using multiple signals, so there’s no need to freak out.
The one place you can go hard with exact match anchors
Your own site.
Yes, Google encourages you to use keyword anchors on your own site to link your content together.
It helps users when they are looking for more information within the site, acting as an additional navigation system.
So, feel free to find the best pages on your site and search for your keywords, then use them as links to pages you want to promote.
This is especially good for SEO if you have authority content on deeper levels of your site and want to pass some of that power around.
In summary, be extra careful with your anchors in external content and focus on placing the links where they make sense, but go crazy on your own site.
In my next post, you’ll learn how to outsmart Google like a spy on steroids; check out my next email for the link 🙂
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