A New Trend In Anchor Text

Just a quick post before the weekend to impart some trends I have noticed across multiple websites over the last month.

I work with a number of clients who are sitting in 8th 9th position on Google, they are desperate to move up and the frustrating part is they have a better link profile than the sites in the top 3.

So what is causing this lull? Why are they not seeing top rankings?

As an SEO’s all we can do is compare on page factors and link profiles, we could go into social mentions but it would be a waste of time as the clients I have been dealing with are large commercial companies who struggle to get social mentions.

After looking through 5 or 6 websites 1 thing kept cropping up;

The websites with better anchor text variation were ranking higher; let me explain.

The sites that were struggling to get in the top 5 had 50-60% of their links targeted at the keyword they wanted to rank for…..

The top ranking sites were around the 25% mark.

Plus on top of this the higher ranking sites had an average of 36 anchor variations pointing to the page, the sites struggling only had an average of 23.

What Does This Show Us?

Well it’s simple, just don’t overdo it with the anchor text, as I have stated many times before use 7-10 variations of the main keyword and make sure you build at least 30% of your links using the domain name.

Progress up the SERPS may be slower using this method, however it protects you against anchor text filters and penalties, because trust me when I say they exist even for the biggest of businesses.

You have always had to be careful when it came to anchor text, but I think now is the time to get a little more natural.


is the CEO of Branded3 a Search Marketing Agency in the UK. Tim has over a decade of experience in Search and regularly speaks at key events and conferences.

15 thoughts on “A New Trend In Anchor Text

  1. You are the “link man”. Appreciate everything you give away here. If I can find a client site with a 35%-50% link text density I will experiment and let you know if SERP improves.

  2. Well, there you have it – proof that overkill can buzz kill, and that the turtles may indeed beat the hares to the finish line. Forgive me – I’m in a mood. 😉

  3. David,

    Any experimenting would be great, let me know if you find anything. Link man? I certainly have an unhealthy obsession 🙂

  4. Hi TT,

    Hope everthings ok. The more research I do the more I realise that you have to think outside the box if you really want Google to love you, especially if your chasing commercial terms.

  5. Great tips Tim. See Christoph Cemper’s take on this exact same subject in his article “Avoid the Google-50 Penalty” at cemple.com.

  6. Hi Mark,

    I have heard of this penalty a few times with a fair amount of variations. In my opinion the only way to avoid it is by being a huge offline brand. We work with clients in some of the most competitive industires around, mobile phones, car insurance and loans. It seems the big brands can get away with anything. I can’t write about their tactics otherwise they would never hire me!! 🙂

    Hope business is going well.

  7. I spent 45 minutes reading your posts and I’m convinced you’re one of the sharpest minds in the industry. I’ve been struggling to get on page 1 for some of my sites and can’t quite figure out why.

    The take away is to vary anchor text and focus on getting links from tons of domains.

  8. Hi Raza,

    Really appreciate the comments and glad you found the blog useful. I think getting links from unique domains has always been a big factor, however I am seeing it become more and more important.

  9. I got similar conclusion as you did. When i turned to Google search to prove my findings and here is your article. I’ve made changes to my link profile and hope the rankings will be back. Thanks for the post.

  10. Hi Roy,

    Google are doing some interesting things at the moment and everyone is struggling to keep up, the joys of SEO I guess 🙂

  11. Just had 2 sites plummet from top 3 rankings to 12th. Just checked the last 2 weeks links have hammered the phrases they have dropped on. How long does the penalty last ? Is it like a little petrol in diesel car, just add some more links on different phrases ?

  12. Hi Duncan,

    The only way I have ever managed to turn this around is by building lots of in content links based on brand anchor text, the last site I tried this on took 6 months to re enter the top 5. Just a patience game now.

  13. Thanks Tim already started to work on that , 🙂 The plot thickens < the two sites that dropped were both linked quite a bit off ezine , I was ready last night that Google latest update has taken over 94 % of ezine keywords away , have you seen this have a knock on effect.

  14. Just posting on it now Duncan, the answer is yes your the third person that has told me that story, lots of article links = drop in rankings

  15. Thanks for the confirmation : ) Already started to see sites increasing : D learn learn learn : ) best way to learn is out in the trenches 😀

    Thanks Tim

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