How to Avoid Anchor Text Over-Optimization Penalties

Most businesses realize the power of search engine optimization (SEO), but some get a little over-zealous and repetitive in their efforts. With 2013 bringing a rise in penalties due to Google’s Penguin 2.0 update, now is the time to rethink your SEO strategy and marketing efforts. Namely, you’ll want to take a look at your anchor links to ensure they are not over-optimized.

Repetition and Excessive Match

The most popular reason for guest posting on other blogs is to get backlinks. When you backlink your site, you may be in the habit of using the same keyword phrase over and over when linking back to your site. Not only is this counterproductive, but it can harm your site’s rankings in the search engines. Excessive match is another problem related to anchor texts whereby a WordPress plugin or similar program creates several instances of the same keyword and links them to pages within your site. Google usually only counts the first anchor text link from one site to another (or one page to another). Using the same anchor text can confuse the search engines, making it difficult to determine which page to rank for the selected keyword.

A Link Profile with Variety

In order to avoid these over optimization errors, you should structure your anchor texts to avoid too much repetition. Your main keyword or keyword phrase should be used as anchor text 20% of the time. Thirty percent each should be allocated to brand-related anchor texts and related keywords. The final 20% of your links should be synonyms or partial matches. Avoid generic links, such as “Click here” or “Visit our site”, because these are of no relevance to your reader. If you plan to complete 20 guest posts for a veterinarian in Anchorage, you may design your links like this:

  • click-hereAnchorage vet (4 times)
  • Name of clinic (6 times)
  • Anchorage veterinarians (1 time)
  • Veterinarians in Anchorage (1 time)
  • Veterinarian Anchorage (1 time)
  • Vet Clinic Anchorage (1 time)
  • Veterinarians in Anchorage AK (1 time)
  • Anchorage veterinary (1 time)
  • Pet doctor Anchorage (1 time)
  • Anchorage Animal Hospital (1 time)
  • Anchorage pet doctor (1 time)
  • Pet doctors in Anchorage AK (1 time)

This method allows plenty of diversity for anchor links that all connect to the same page, giving you a natural looking anchor text profile. You can use this method to both optimize your content and avoid penalties.

Ranking for Related Keywords

There are benefits to varying your link profile beyond avoiding penalties, of course. By using related keywords and keyword phrases, you increase the likelihood that your site can get ranked for those different, but related keywords. This, in turn, expands your market penetration and increases traffic. In order to find phrases related to your keyword, use the Google Keyword Tool. Enter in your primary keyword and look at the related searches in the results. You should see a list of related keywords along with the number of searches the keyword or phrase receives each month. Use those with a high number of searches but the least competition for best results.

When you or your SEO outsourcing company selects blogs for guest posting, it may be a smart idea to ask about their anchor text profiles. If there is plenty of variety, as in the sample above, you have nothing to worry about. If, however, their strategy is anchor text saturation, you may want to rethink requesting a link from that site, no matter what the page rank is. If the site receives a slap from Google, it could also cause trouble for the sites those links are pointing to. You don’t want to risk your own business and websites by getting links from sites that use poor SEO strategies. Follow the guidelines outlined here for anchor text variation, and your site will be moving up in the SERPs in no time.

If you have any questions, please ask below!