Bridging The Gap On Anchor Text Ratios -
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Bridging The Gap On Anchor Text Ratios

Solidifying An Approach To Anchor Text Choices

The meat and potatoes of what constitutes “proper anchor text practices” has not much changed in the last couple years. However, it’s very tough for even the most experienced SEOs to piece together all the information found in the groups, forums, and articles on anchor text out there. So many people are scratching their heads when it comes to best practices, and using the wrong approach can actually set back an entire campaign.

Below I’ve shared what 2 highly respected SEOs have suggested on the topic and what we’ve learned about proper anchor text ratios and best practices through testing different link & anchor scenarios.

What Some Of The Best SEOs Have Said

Nathan Gotch put out one of the best ever anchor text blog posts in existence. He proposed that you can be relatively safe by following this basic strategy:

Nathan-Gotch-minBranded Anchor Text: 70%
Naked Links: 20%
Generic Anchors: 5%
LSI, Partial Match Anchors: 1-5%
Exact Match Anchors: Less Than 1%

ryan_footer_photoAdversely, 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.

Our team has found that when you combine the general gist of these 2 theories, you’ve got 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 I can’t use branded and naked anchors for Guest Posts or PBNs?

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, you will most definitely get hammered with an algo penalty. This statement is hard for many people to swallow. There are many experts that attribute this algo slap 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?

Your links need to be padded with varied link types and anchors to make things work. 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. Our team’s collective experience lies mostly in local seo, and when we’ve crossed the threshold of what Gotch recommends (above), we’ve experienced algo penalties. We’re baffled by the Ahrefs article and we’re looking further into that information because we know for a fact it does not apply on the local level.  Either way, there is no doubt that linkbuilding takes a significant amount of work and there really is no getting around it. You need varied link types and varied IPs.

Are there additional tactics to supplement the above Anchor Strategy?

This is truly the million dollar question. And that is why there is quite a bit of value in this post. It can get a little nuts when first trying to scale things out, but don’t over-complicate things. One vital last 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 (such as not leaving a path to one IP origin when linkbuilding), you’ll secure top rankings.

We’re going to continue to expand on this topic in future posts.

In the meantime here are a few additional recommended resources for Anchor Ratios & Anchor Text Best Practices:

Outreach Mama

Diggity Marketing … we actively use Linkio software for our agency campaigns

  • Gotch
    Posted at 13:35h, 25 February Reply

    Solid analysis and thank you for the mention Jeff!

    • Joe Graisbery
      Posted at 22:10h, 25 February Reply

      Thank YOU, Nathan, for setting the standard for anchor text and putting out incredible blog posts!

  • Oliver Wood
    Posted at 01:19h, 27 February Reply

    Personally I think Gotch’s ratio is very conservative and you can go considerably harder than that.

    • Joe Graisbery
      Posted at 05:42h, 27 February Reply

      Thank you for your comment, Oliver. Our testing shows results that are consistent with Gotch’s blueprint, which we believe provides the most optimized model. Keep in mind this is with profile links and citations considered. However, that’s not to say you can’t apply an approach similar to Ryan Stewart’s general methods that include using “the correct anchor type for the occasion” while avoiding any major algo penalties. I must also mention that our testing is limited with enterprise-level traffic, where the ball game changes. Our bread and butter is local, so we’ll give you an update on our findings once we enter into the top national searches arena!

  • vt
    Posted at 01:54h, 25 September Reply

    greatly helpful information on anchor text, love it!

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