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Anchor Text Distribution for Top Rankings In Google

Natural anchor text distribution formula

We have noticed that one of the most common (and extremely harmful) SEO mistakes many people make is ignoring natural anchor text distribution. Our research has shown that people who followed the anchor text distribution (shown below) have successfully got in the Google’s Top 10 and were progressing in the SERPs even after the last Penguin update.

And those who ignored this rule failed to get high rankings. Google is constantly working on improving its algorithms. So after its latest update, a great number of websites throughout the Internet lost their rankings. The most important reason why rankings dropped after this update was an unnatural anchor text distribution in their backlink profiles.

We have conducted a deep research, trying to find out what was the most efficient keyword distribution that SEOs must follow to have high rankings on Google (learn more about SEO through our SEO reports) We considered websites with high and low rankings on Google and compared their anchor text distribution. The results of the research have shown that websites with high rankings had the following keyword distribution.

What is natural anchor text distribution after the Google Search Algorithm Update in August 2018??

Natural Anchor Text Distribution


Download these sample reports with natural and unnatural anchor text distribution backlink profiles (none of these sites has any connection to LinksManagement or our customers). When you download and unzip this file, you’ll see 2 folders:

  1. One with websites that have high rankings on Google and natural anchor text distribution.
  2. And another one with websites that have no rankings on Google and unnatural anchor text distribution.

By comparing the .xls files, you’ll see the difference between natural and unnatural backlink profiles.

Based on this research, we encourage you to build backlinks (let our SEO Cost Calculator count how many links you need) to your website with the following breakdown of SEO-friendly anchor texts in order to get high rankings on Google.

Anchor text profile

For example: if your domain name is www.linksmanagement.com and your main targeted keyword for which you want to rank #1 on Google is on-page seo, then:

  • Naked URL anchor text – 45% of your anchors should include your website URL (i.e., www.linksmanagement.com, linksmanagement.com). Such anchors are the safest and most effective ones.
  • Branded anchor text – 30% of your backlinks should include your brand name/domain name (i.e., LinksManagement). Using brand and keyword anchor texts (5%) is another efficient and safe method of building a strong backlink profile (i.e., linksmanagement on-page seo tips, linksmanagement seo tools). These are the safest anchors to use since Google likes to see brands in anchors. Still, it is valid only if your domain is no exact match.
  • Generic anchor text – 14% of your backlinks should include common anchor texts like “click here”, “get more info”, “read this article”
  • Keyword anchor text (6%) is an anchor with a keyword. Formerly this type of anchors was the most widespread one, but currently, you should be very careful when using keywords in your anchors because of Google penalties.  
    • Partial match anchor text (2%) means that anchors include your brand name, plus your keywords (i.e., on-page seo guide, on-page seo checklist, best on-page seo practices)
    • Long tail anchor text (2%) are the same as partial match anchors except for their length (i.e., list of on page activities in seo)
    • Exact match anchor text (1%) are important for your rankings boost, but still, they may be the reason you get penalized by Google. (i.e. on-page seo)
    • LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) anchor text (1%) represent various synonyms and related terms for your target keyword. You can see these anchors at the bottom of the SERP for every query.

LSI anchors

  • Other – 5% of your anchor texts should include some random text and/or some other keywords, but not your main keyword (i.e., according to research, an interesting piece). And if you want to make your backlink profile diverse, consider using image anchors (less than 1%). Google will read the “alt” tag as an anchor text.

<a href=”http://draft.com”><imgsrc=”http://draft.com/draft-photo.jpg” alt=”alt as anchor text” /> </a>

We also believe that, for your backlink profile to look even more natural, at least 5-7% of your links should be “nofollow” and at least 10% of your links should be site-wide. Such strategy in anchor text link building will help generate the most efficient backlink profile. 

You should to create  a strong backlink profile with relevant and diversified anchor text. For example, promgirl.com uses the following phrase “short prom dress, prom gowns and dresses, sexy dresses- promgirl” as one long anchor text-anchor. Since promgirl.com has high positions on Google for hundreds of very competitive keywords, we can conclude that using such diversified anchors is a smart and effective strategy for getting high Google rankings.

Note: ideal anchor text distribution is not a “may follow” but a “MUST FOLLOW” SEO rule to get high rankings on Google. If your current anchor text distribution doesn’t coincide with the aforementioned, don’t remove your existing backlinks (this can significantly hurt your site’s rankings) – just build new links with the anchors you are lacking. Use our SEO Expert Tool that will select links for you automatically. Follow this formula and wait for the steady growth of your rankings. 

How to optimize anchor texts?

As you have already understood, anchor texts play a crucial role in your website rankings. For this reason, many people often over-optimize their anchors and look spammy to Google. So, we have prepared some recommendations on safe optimization of your anchor texts.

  1. Make your anchors relevant. Your target keywords and anchors should be relevant to the content on your website.
  2. Classify anchor texts. Above we have shown the diagram of anchor texts distribution according to our research data. These numbers are niche-specific. That is why before implementing your link building strategy it is important to analyze backlink profiles of your competitors. Use SEMrush, Ahrefs, and ScanBacklinks to reveal how your competitors distribute anchors.
  3. Avoid linking to suspicious websites. This is a well-known fact that authoritative websites bring you more SEO benefits than spammy ones. Don’t waste your time and efforts on useless websites. Try to get links from authoritative sites that are relevant to your business scope.
  4. Monitor your anchor texts. If you want to avoid over-optimization, you should always keep track of anchors you’ve already used. There is a wide range of tracking tools – just choose the most convenient for you (i.e., SEMrush, Ahrefs, ScanBacklinks etc).
  5. Obtain backlinks from right websites. You need to get backlinks only from authoritative websites with high DA/PA. It will improve your backlink profile. 

You need to be very careful with your anchor texts. Pay attention to the safest and most effective anchors – naked URLs and branded. Build your backlink profile with the help of quality content and smart anchor texts distribution to get the top spots on Google. Need help and reliable recommendations on your backlink profile and other SEO issues?

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Finally, if you want to share your story on building a rewarding backlink profile, or give some more insights, you are welcome to share the blog post and leave your comments below.

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