Anchor Text Ratio
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We’re all told if we want to help our websites rank better, then we need to start link building. Less often are we told how and why we need to start building these links.
While Google will look at your links on an individual basis, your website’s entire link profile will also play a big part in your website’s ability to rank. Within this link profile, there are some eye-catching trends to look at when it comes to the quality of your links and your anchor text ratios.
It might seem like a small detail, but the text you include your links with, the anchor text, can make a difference to how well your site can rank, and being able to make these links look as natural as possible can help you improve your domain authority with fewer links.
So, let’s start at the beginning and take a look at why anchor text ratios are another thing you should be paying attention to with your SEO.
Why You Need a Link Building Strategy
Simply put, having strong links pointing back to your website is going to help you rank better in the search engines. Google uses a number of metrics (over 200) to help it analyze your site, and the number and quality of your backlinks feature highly in that process.
Backlinks are one of the ways Google establishes your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EAT), and in many ways, it follows the same process we do as humans.
Say you hear your favorite band is coming to town, but you’re not sure if it’s just a rumor, or whether it’s actually true, what do you do? You check authoritative sources to see if they corroborate the story you’ve heard.
Google and the search engines do much the same thing, they check to see who is backing what you say in the form of linking to your site. The more high-quality links you get to your site from websites in similar niches to yours, the more Google is going to think you are a reputable source and be willing to send its users to your pages.
The search engines want to know they’re sending their users to high-quality results, so in order to do this, they need to be able to establish your level of authority, and one of the key ways they do this is by analyzing your backlinks.
In a perfect world, you would create amazing content, and people will link to it without a nudge – this would create what we call natural links. Although this image of link building is created by Google, and an ideal one, it can cause a lot of hassle.
So, if the links don’t come to us naturally, that means we need to find other ways to build links and boost our authority in the eyes of the search engines. To do this, we develop a link building strategy to create those links.
The problem is – and this is where we come back to anchor text ratios – Google still enjoys this idea of natural linking, and it has ways of trying to promote websites that seem to be linking naturally.
In many ways, looking for natural links does make sense. They should, in theory, be the most authoritative links, and it stops people from trying to jump up the rankings through spammy, black hat link building techniques. However, even the best, white hat link building requires you to do your own backlinking outreach, so you need to be able to make those links look natural.
This is where anchor text ratio comes in.
Types of Anchor Text
The reason anchor text becomes important is because if lots of different people were linking to your website naturally, they would all do it in their own way. Sure, many will put the link on your brand name, and some will put it on a keyword, but many will put it on some arbitrary words within a sentence.
To reflect the different text people use to include their links, there are different categories of anchor text.
Keyword anchor texts are an exact match of your target keyword. For example, the main keyword for this page is anchor text ratios, so the link would be on “anchor text ratios.”
- Page Title
A page title anchor text would simply have the page title of the target page as the anchor text.
- Keyword Plus
For example, a link to this page could be “anchor text ratios and why you should use them.” The whole of the sentence would link to the page, rather than just the keyword of anchor text ratios.
- Brand Plus Keyword
Brand plus keyword would include your brand, say Click Intelligence, and your keyword, so your link would be “Click Intelligence anchor text ratios.”
Your brand and nothing else as your anchor text, so “Click Intelligence.”
- Partial Keyword
A partial keyword anchor text will contain part of your keyword, but not all of it. For example, “selecting the right anchor.”
A natural anchor will have no reference to your brand or your keywords, just a completely natural selection of words, something like “this will help you.”
- Full URL
The complete URL the page your link is pointing to as a link.
In this case, to link to this article, we would use ClickIntelligence.com as our anchor text.
- Home URL
A home URL is where you use the home URL of your website, but you’re actually linking to an internal page. So, you might be linking to your page on anchor text ratios, but you use your home URL as the anchor text.
- No Text
You can have a no text anchor when your link is an image and there is no image alt text.
- URL with www’s
Rather than including the whole web address, starting with https:// you just put www. followed by the domain name.
Categorizing Different Anchor Texts
These twelve different anchor text types can be neatly put into three main categories, each of which signal something slightly different to the search engines.
- Exact Match Anchors – these are the anchors that exactly match your keyword, e.g. anchor text ratios.
- Anchors with Key Phrases Mixed In – For example, “getting the right anchor text ratios.” These anchors are still focused on your keywords, but with some more natural wording included.
- Brand, Natural, and URL Anchors – This is a slightly more varied group of anchors and includes all your branded, URL, and natural anchors.
Getting the Right Anchor Text Ratio
As we mentioned earlier, Google wants to think that your links are natural, and therefore, the way people link to you is going to be varied. Other people won’t necessarily consider what your keyword is, so when they link to you, they’re not all going to use “anchor text ratios” as their anchor text (in the case of this article).
Instead, the links that point to your website are going to use some kind of blend of the three categories listed above, the question is, what is the best ratio to use?
To answer this question, it’s useful to take a look at the link profiles of a website that is already ranking number one on Google. If you can isolate a ratio of different anchor texts these websites use, then you can start to understand what anchor text ratios can give your website the best results.
Anchor Text Ratios
By analyzing a large number of websites that rank number one on google, a pattern starts to emerge for the kind of anchors you need to use. However, there’s a distinct difference between the types of anchor text you want to be using to link to your homepage and the links you build to your external pages.
Home Page Ratio
- 80 – 95% brand, natural, and URL anchors.
- > 10% anchors with keywords mixed in.
- > 5% exact match anchors.
Internal Pages Ratio
- 50 – 60% anchors with keywords mixed in.
- 35 – 45% brand, natural, and URL anchors.
- > 10 % exact match anchors.
Linking to Your Home Page
In general, your home page is less about ranking for keywords, and more about establishing authority in the eyes of the search engines and consumers, so it makes sense that a lot of your links to your home page will be branded, or URL anchors.
In fact, around 80-95% of the anchor texts linking to your homepage should be branded, natural, or URL anchors. The home page is more of an overview of your website, so, people expect to end up on your home page if they click an anchor text like “Click Intelligence”.
It’s also worth noting that the majority of successful websites have a much higher number of links to their home page than to any of their internal pages. Your homepage should have twice as many likes as any of your internal pages, and if you think about it, this is what would happen if people were linking to your website naturally.
Your homepage pulls all of your information together in one place, so it’s likely more people would link to it with an anchor text such as “Click Intelligence found that.” Your internal pages deal with more specific issues, so that information pertains to less people and they will, therefore, have less links.
Linking to Your Internal Pages
Your internal pages have a very different purpose to your home page, and consequently, the links that point to these pages should look different.
These pages are much more specific and center around certain keywords, so it makes sense that more of the links are going to contain keywords within the anchor text. That’s why we see 50 – 60% of links to internal pages with anchor texts with keywords mixed in.
Still though, if people were linking your pages completely naturally, they wouldn’t all include the keyword in their link, so it’s important to mix things up and use a variety of anchor texts. The ratios with internal pages are much more even, and you should be looking to create a variety of different links to your internal pages.
Link building is an important part of any website’s success, but it needs to be part of a well-planned link building strategy. It’s not just about the number of links you have, or even the quality of those links, the way those pages link to you plays a big part in your link profile as well.
Ideally, we all aspire to have lots of websites linking to us naturally, but in the vast majority of cases, that’s not how things work. This means that you have to build the links yourself in order to give your website the best chance at doing well in the rankings, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The search engines, however, still want your links to appear to be natural, so you have to take into account how you use anchor text to link back to your site. If you just stuff your anchor texts with keywords, then Google is going to notice this and think you are trying to manipulate the system, so you have to use smart anchor text ratios. You cannot afford for your business’s website to be penalized, so abiding by Google’s rules and regulations is good business sense.
If you can implement your link building strategy using good anchor text ratios, then it can help your website rank better with fewer links. It might not be the factor that makes the biggest difference in SEO, but it does make a difference, and you might as well use every tool that’s available to you.
Make sure that when you’re doing your link building, you’re considering the anchor text you’re using and making your links seem as natural as possible. Too many exact keyword links, and you might find those links become less powerful. Be sure to speak to a specialist in SEO, anchor texts, and content creation so that you get the best results possible.