Anchor Text Best Practices and Ideal Ratios

Let’s speak about some anchor text best practices for link building. Some of what I’m about to say may probably contradict what you’ve read from some of the best known pundits in the SEO industry, but please hear me out.

I’m going to start with my own personal anchor text golden rule. For the past 12 years, I’ve been following this. If you only remember this one thing from this post, you will be alright. Your anchor text should either explain why you’re connecting to a certain page or explain what that page is about. That is all there is to it. That’s all there is to it. Both internal and external links are affected. As a result, your anchor text is both SEO-friendly and useful to website visitors.

Never use naked URLs as anchors on purpose.

It’s one of the most ridiculous notions I’ve ever heard. It isn’t “natural” at all. Not in the least. I believe we can all agree that some of the most “natural” links are those found within an article’s content. In articles, no one links to bare URLs. It wasn’t usual practice until SEOs started doing it.

You wouldn’t say anything like: Looking at their assortment and prices, I wouldn’t advocate buying for pet food at hxxp:/bestpetfood.com if you were writing an article about where to buy pet food.

You might say, based on their inventory and prices, I would not recommend buying for “pet food at best pet food” (The anchor text is the words in quotes.)

That sounds a lot more “natural” and makes a lot more sense.

To make your link profile look genuine, you don’t have to use naked URL links. Since 2010, I’ve been performing SEO. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve built a link with a naked URL as the anchor text during that time. Zero. Exactly nil. I’ve only done it when I’ve been compelled to, such as in press releases or directory listings where I didn’t have a choice.

Many individuals will look at major brands and notice that they have a lot of links with bare URLs as anchor text and conclude that you need them, but you must remember that huge brands do actual public relations. A lot of the PR job entails writing press releases, which only allow for naked URL connections.

If you are convinced that you NEED links with naked URL anchors and I am unable to persuade you otherwise, there are a number of directories that only accept these kind of connections. Keep them for those occasions.

Don’t squander good link opportunities by using bare URLs, especially when it comes to internal links. A few weeks ago, I was helping out a friend with his website’s SEO. The anchors for many of his internal links were bare URLs. One of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen on the internet. When I inquired about the reason, my friend claimed that it was to make their link profile appear more natural.

I honestly felt like giving my friend a choke slam for this act of heresy.

Is it necessary to be concerned about anchor text ratios? This may be a controversial viewpoint, but I’m going to say NO.

Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard about the importance of anchor text ratios in making your link profile look “natural.”

I’ve never been able to find any credible proof of this. This idea arose shortly after the debut of Penguin.

Now, with all of that said (and as I stated at the outset, bear with me), I would advocate altering your anchors.

This is something I’ve always done (it’s part of my anchor text golden rule), but not because I’m afraid of my pages being penalized by Google because of their anchor text ratios.

It’s something I do because I never try to rank a page for a single keyword. I normally target a number of different variations. The other reason I advocate altering your anchors is that it gives search engines more information about the page’s content.

But I’ll never urge somebody to aim for X percent of bare URLs, X percent of brand name anchors, or anything like that. That makes no logic at all. In fact, doesn’t aiming for some arbitrary percentages go against the whole point of having a “natural” link profile in the first place?

Your anchor text should either explain why you’re connecting to a certain page or explain what that page is about. That is all there is to it. You’ll be OK if you simply do that.

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