Arnie Kuenn answers: “What is Anchor Text Over Optimization and How Can I Fix It?”
If you’ve got a question about link building, content, social media, SEO or other Internet marketing topics, just post it on the Vertical Measures Facebook page, or tweet it to us with the hashtag #VMQA.
Hi, I’m Arnie Kuenn, and today’s question is: What is anchor text over optimization and how can you fix it?
Let’s start with what is anchor text. Anchor text is generally the words that are highlighted in blue, usually, and underscored within a sentence or somewhere on a web page that links to another web page. They can be quite informative for the search engines. They use them to try to figure out what to expect when they do follow and spider over to that new page to see what
the content is that’s there. One example might be if you talk in a sentence about top content marketing agencies and content marketing is highlighted, that would be the anchor text.
A great example of how powerful it can be – and this has been around for years and I just checked it yesterday – if you search for the phrase “click here,” it takes you to the Adobe Acrobat downloader page, and that’s because so many websites in the world link to it saying something like “to get the Adobe download click here.” It just shows you the power of anchor text, especially when you go see that page and you realize that there’s no optimization there for those words whatsoever.
What is anchor text over optimization? Well, that’s determined by the search engine algorithms, and it became a very important issue with the latest Google update called Penguin. Basically what they’re looking for is an unnatural amount of anchor text pointing to a particular webpage. We’re talking about exact anchor text. So if your money phrase or the keyword
that you’re really trying to target let’s say is “auto insurance” and the name of your website might be Hallmark Auto, so auto insurance is not the name of your domain or your brand or whatever, but you’ve got several hundred links pointing to a specific webpage all using the exact anchor text “auto insurance” that’s going to look suspicious to the search engines. In fact, as of April 24th, that kind of stuff needs to be cleaned up.
How do you fix it? Well, one of the things you do is conduct a back link analysis. What I would recommend is you look at your top three competitors, the competitors that are beating you today for those particular keyword phrases, see what their anchor text profile looks like, and then see if you can’t emulate it or do better than that.
One of the things you’re going to want to do is remove troublesome site-wide links and troublesome meaning exact match anchor text throughout, maybe a lower quality blog because maybe you got listed on their blog role or somewhere else, maybe even on your own website you’ve created a site-wide link problem. Another thing that you’d want to do is look at spammy links. I think we all probably know, if you’re watching this video, you’re an Internet marketer and you probably understand what a good site is and a spammy site and how those links might have been obtained. You need to work on starting to remove those as well.
Then, of course, the next thing you should do is start building new, more natural links. We’ll talk in just a second about how to do that. So creating a natural link profile where you can control the anchor text, try to get your keywords into whole sentences. I won’t even make up a sentence. But a lot of times, if you look at a blog post or a great article, sometimes an entire sentence just hyperlinks over to the corresponding webpage, and if your keyword is in that sentence, that’s pretty good and that can be pretty powerful.
You also might want to look at what we call “sandwiching” your keywords. So in the example that I gave before, I think it was top content marketing agency or content marketing as the keywords, but you sandwiched it between two or three other keywords on that page or in that sentence, that could be very effective too.
Then also make sure that you’re linking or getting links to your home page using your brand. If you think about how someone who didn’t know you but decided to write about you would naturally link to your website, they would most likely use your brand name and most likely link to your home page unless they were specifically linking to an internal page or a great blog post or an infographic you produced, and even then they still might incorporate your brand name into however they use the anchor text to link to you.
The bottom line there is create awesome content to attract links. It will help build authority to your domain. But also remember to optimize each and every page on your website and optimize every element: graphics, video, the text on the page, the title, H1s, H2s. The game today is to build authority to your website, have really good optimized pages, and hopefully you rank to the top.
Obviously, the devil’s in the details, but in a nutshell that’s what anchor text over optimization is and, hopefully, how to fix it.