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Best practices for anchor text optimisation

December 14, 2019 0 comments

Anchor text is an important part of internal and external linking. This is one of those elements that can unlock a link’s potential, add more context for search engines, guide search engine crawlers, and help a website rank higher for certain keywords and keyword phrases.

A few years ago, before Google Penguin, anchor text optimisation was a simple text. You simply put the primary keyword in it, and that’s it. However, over the past few years — especially after the introduction of Google Penguin — the optimisation process of anchor text has evolved.

Here are a few best practices for anchor text optimisation that you need to be aware of:

1. Keeping it natural

Google wants every single element on a web page to provide value to website visitors. This includes text, images, heading tags, links, and anchor text.

Moreover, if any element of the web page — especially when it comes to backlinks and anchor text — seems forced and unnatural, that might lead to a Google penalty.

Therefore, keeping it natural should be your number one priority. This includes two angles:

  • First, links and anchor text should be only on places where they add value to users.
  • Second, the anchor text itself should be contextual and natural.

2. Keeping it versatile

Over optimisation of certain keywords is one of the biggest mistakes that most content marketers and SEOs unintentionally make.

You may want to optimise a web page for a certain keyword phrase. However, it does not mean that all the internal and external links pointing to that page should contain an anchor text with just that one keyword phrase.

Avoid repetitive keywords in anchor text to diversify links and keep the backlink profile of your web site natural.

3. Using LSI keywords

As we just discussed, over optimisation of keywords in the anchor text cloud can lead to a search engine penalty. You need to keep your backlink profile natural and diversified with a variety of anchor text and keywords.

One of the best ways to do that is to use LSI keywords in your anchor text.

LSI keywords are Latent Semantic Indexing keywords that are directly or indirectly related to the main keyword or topic of your web page. You can use a keyword research tool like LSIGraph to find relevant LSI keywords quickly.

Learn more about LSI keywords and how to use them.

4. Anchors should be relevant

The Google Penguin algorithm update especially targets websites that have backlinks from irrelevant websites. The relevance of links — as well as the anchor text — as an extremely important part.

Check out the following chart to see the correlation between Google Penguin penalties and websites with irrelevant links.

One of the main focuses of Google is to provide the best possible user experience. The crusade against slow-loading websites and sites with interstitial ads is also a part of the long-term goal.

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Irrelevant links — with irrelevant anchor text — simply cannot provide a great user experience. It will lead to a high exit rate and bounce rate.

5. Avoid generic anchor text

You should avoid generic anchor text as much as possible. Generic anchor text includes phrases, such as click here, read this, etc.

It is recommended to have up to 5 percent of generic anchor texts in your overall anchor text cloud. However, you should not actively contribute to it because you will likely get links with generic anchor text from other publishers.

6. Guest blogging: Have control over anchor texts

Guest blogging is a tried and tested method for generating relevant and high-quality backlinks for your website. However, too many times, publishers give away control over links and anchor text.

By retaining control over anchor text, you can easily diversify your backlink profile and anchor text cloud.

One recommended practice is to create links with the following types of anchor text: exact match, partial match, and LSI keywords that are related to the topic of discussion.


Although there is no definite rule, it is recommended to divide your anchor text cloud like this:

  • Branded anchor text: Up to 50 percent
  • Domain name: Up to 15 percent
  • Title of the blog post or web page: Up to 15 percent
  • Naked URL: Up to 10 percent
  • Exact and partial match keywords: Up to 5 percent
  • Generic anchor text: Up to 3 to 5 percent

Because search engines have evolved and become smarter than ever before, SEOs have one more thing to worry about: anchor text.

It is not necessary to spend hours every week on this. Just being mindful of what your backlink profile and anchor text cloud look like can go a long way in helping you with higher search engine rankings and keeping Google Penguin penalties at bay.