Anchor Text Ratios

Mastering Inbound Anchor Text Ratios

General inbound anchor text ratio practices haven’t changed much in recent years. By viewing the anchor text ratio data of your competitors, you can gain an understanding of what may be acceptable practices in the eyes of Google within a particular niche.

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.

Even experienced SEOs may have trouble piecing together all the information found in groups, forums, and articles for a complete picture of perfect anchor text practices.

Just below I’ve shared what 2 respected SEO professionals suggest as best practices, derived through testing various link & anchor scenarios.

Conflicting Theories?

SEO Content Wave

Nathan Gotch
Nathan Gotch

Nathan Gotch put out an anchor text blog post that discussed a newer approach, at the time, to anchor text ratios. 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%

SEO Content Wave

Ryan Stewart SEO
Ryan Stewart

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 guest posts, 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.

Apply Gotch’s Anchor Text Ratio Proportions to Ryan Stewart’s “Link Type Method.”

For example, use Guest Posts 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 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 SEO or new to the topic of anchor text attributes, it can be challenging when first trying to scale this out. But don’t over-complicate things.

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.

Suggested Anchor Text Resources

Here are some resources that deserve an honorable mention for anchor text ratios best practices:

Outreach Mama 


5 thoughts on “Choosing Inbound Anchor Text Ratios”

    1. Thank you for your comment, Oliver. Gotch’s original blueprint may have provided a model that considered more profile links and things like citations. It’s difficult to really know without seeing all the data. The concept definitely fueled some creative thoughts for me. These days I am a bit more trusting of Ahrefs.

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