25 Feb Bridging The Gap On Anchor Text Ratios
Solidifying An Approach to Inbound Anchor Text Choices
Originally Published 2/25/16
Last Updated 4/28/19
What constitutes “proper inbound anchor text practices” has not much changed in the last couple of years. However, even experienced SEOs may have trouble piecing together all the information found in the groups, forums, and articles for a complete picture of perfect anchor text practices.
For beginners, the topic of how to execute it “properly” will almost surely arise as one begins to learn, execute campaign processes, and ultimately set up their own SOP.
Just below I’ve shared what 2 respected SEO professionals suggested on the topic and some of what we’ve learned about proper anchor text ratios and best practices through testing different link & anchor scenarios.
Toward the bottom, I’ve shared what is arguably the best resource available on the topic, where it says: “Just Use this Ultimate Anchor Text Resource.”
Food for Thought
Nathan Gotch put out one of the best ever anchor text blog posts in existence. He’s been polishing and updating this one since approximately 2013.
He proposed that you can be relatively safe by following this basic strategy:
Branded Anchor Text: 70%
Naked Links: 20%
Generic Anchors: 5%
LSI, Partial Match Anchors: 1-5%
Exact Match Anchors: Less Than 1%
Adversely, Ryan Stewart later blogged about how anchor text ratios are useless. Another epic article on anchor text. He proposed what appeared to be in direct conflict with Gotch’s epic post: that you shouldn’t use naked or branded anchors coming from PBNs, among other things. Wow.
An interesting approach may be to combine the general gist of these 2 theories. Perhaps then we’re getting closer to the whole picture. To summarize: apply Gotch’s anchor text ratio proportions to Ryan Stewart’s “link type method.” For example, use Guest Posts or PBNs for most of your exact and partial match anchors (as Ryan Stewart suggested) and just follow Gotch’s suggestions for ratios. Another example would be to use profile links and blog comments as Ryan Stewart suggests for the branded anchor links portions that Gotch recommends.
Does this mean you can’t use branded and naked anchors for Guest Posts? Of course not. But Ryan Stewart does have a point about what looks natural, and consistent results we’ve experienced point to the fact that if you use too many branded and naked links, your results may not be as good. This statement is hard for many people to swallow.
There are many experts that attribute this to other things documented by Google, but a large # of the Penguin violations one may experience (whether it is known or unknown by the marketer) have to do with unnatural anchor choices.
How should I apply Exact & Partial Match anchors?
Ahrefs did a study and found that the highest ranking sites have a considerably higher percentage than Nathan Gotch suggests for exact and partial match anchors. Crossing too far beyond the threshold of what Gotch recommends (above) can lead to overoptimization, so refer to the below tactic as well. Ahrefs’ article might be a little confusing, but there is no doubt that link building takes a significant amount of work and there really is no getting around having to take time to analyze what Google is currently ranking.
Are there additional tactics to supplement the above Anchor Strategy?
If you’re new to the game or new to the topic of anchor text attributes, it can get a little nuts when first trying to scale things out, but don’t over-complicate things.
A vital bit of advice is this: take the average of your top 4 competitors link profiles (analyze link types & anchors according to the above 2 principles, putting more weight on the top 2 competitors’) and duplicate it. Then add more links according to Nathan Gotch’s & Ryan Stewart’s above tactics.
Also, be sure to try to mimic a link velocity that models your competitors OR at the very least a CONSISTENT link velocity. By applying these methods along with other natural looking best practices, you’ll secure top rankings. But for the complete picture…
Just Use this Ultimate Anchor Text Resource
Three years after originally publishing this post, I’ve determined there’s no better source to refer to on anchor text practices than Matt Diggity’s A Complete SEO Guide to Anchor Text Optimization for 2019. I highly recommend you follow his recommendations… you’ll succeed!
Here are a few additional resources that deserve an honorable mention for Anchor Ratios & Anchor Text Best Practices: