A handful of years and a MEng later I kept preparing for what tomorrow would bring and tomorrow pushed me into a career I never knew I would wet my feet with let alone dive in, SEO. To this day every morning I have stared at the mirror and repeated those words, almost like a mantra just to reassure myself I chose the right path in life. ‘The future is all about computers kid’.
Computers in my opinion wouldn’t be anything without the Internet and this wouldn’t be anything without search engines or SEO. Think about it, every day the number of websites increases, an increase of 51 Million sites in 2012* alone to be exact and the most popular search engines keep dominating the market meaning everyday there are more websites that want a piece of the same search pie. Therefore in order to fight off the competition all areas related to SEO have to be as near perfect as possible.
In my opinion, SEO consists of Onsite SEO (30% of the overall score) which relates mostly to the site content, code and Meta data and Off-site SEO (70% of the overall score) which is all about the Backlinks and Social Media Promotion.
So taking the above statement into account we can see that the most important factor of SEO is off-site and the most important pathway of this is Backlink Building. When building links to a site, there should be visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. This is called the anchor text. It is a very valuable element, so valuable that a few years ago if you wanted to get ranked first for ‘shoes’ you could just gain almost all of your backlinks using ‘shoes’ as your anchor text and voila providing the backlinks were strong your site would be at the top or near. Unfortunately this isn’t the case anymore.
Less than 50% should be targeted
Google relies heavily on the anchor text to verify if the off-site SEO has occurred naturally or has been manipulated. If 100 different people, whom you have never approached in your life are linking to your site you are bound to get a few variations of anchor text right? If all 100 link to your site with ‘shoes online 2013’ that certainly will raise a red flag in Google’s eyes. Therefore over 50% of all backlinks should be broad or brand related. If your online shoe ecommerce site is called ‘money maid man’ then over half of all your backlinks should be centred around ‘money maid man’, ‘moneymaidman.co’, ‘click here’, ‘money maid’, etc.
This means that less than 50% of all links should be focused around your target key phrases and less than 10% for each individual target key phrase.
So taking the same example stated above if I planned on gaining 100 backlinks and wanted to target 5 different key phrases, over 50 of my backlinks would need to be brand related and each of the 5 key phrases could have at the maximum 10 backlinks as the exact anchor text.
What happens if I go above this value? What happens if I go below this value?
If you gain an extremely high percentage of targeted anchor text links Google will see this as an infringement and will penalize your site strongly. It is not worth it in the short or long run.
If you gain an extremely low percentage of targeted anchor text links nothing exciting will happen but you aren’t taking advantage of all the power you could possibly add to your site and your desired rankings will be harder to achieve.
Link relevancy is vital in any SEO campaign and consists of both the content of the page that contains the backlink and the anchor text used. They should both be as exact as possible and if they are not in several occurrences Google will penalize your site.
So in our case a link from a blog related to shoes or footwear, from a URL that has the keyword present would add more value to us than a link from a football blog that shares no similarities topic wise, in the page content or site name.
First Anchor Text Counts
First impressions matter! Google will count the first or highest positioned link as the original link and use that instance’s anchor text. So if you link from the homepage to an inner page in the header navigation with the keyword ‘contact’ but then you realize you want to rank for ‘shoe contacts UK’ and place a link on the bottom of the page with the exact same anchor text as the target key phrase don’t bother because Google will count the first available link and use ‘contact’ as the only anchor text.
In Conclusion just like my brother used to tell me ‘one must be prepared for what tomorrow will bring’. Tomorrow (in this case Google) brought us a higher standard of accreditation regarding the anchor text used when optimizing the offsite SEO for any given campaign and therefore we either comply or face penalization. When dealing with anchor text we should always remember ‘10 times relevancy equals first’. 10 percent of all backlinks for each targeted key phrase, link relevancy is vital and first anchor text counts.
*Source: Internet 2012 in numbers