Google Penguin was created to help cut down on the number of spam sites ranking on a SERP, but many quality sites were hit because they were overusing keywords and never varying the anchor text of links. There used to be a time when it was a good idea to plug in your keywords wherever you could and as often as you could, but Google no longer sees this as a positive. It’s a great idea to link to external sources or link internally to help users, but Google wants to see varying anchor texts in order to help keep the content human.
For those who are unfamiliar, anchor text refers to the text that you can see when you click on a hyperlink. The keywords you use throughout your content are considered keywords, but anchor text is the text that is usually highlighted in blue. For example, you can click on this link to the Higher Visibility homepage, and the words “this link” would be the anchor text.
SEOMoz also reports that Google only counts the anchor text that you use first if you have two different anchor texts pointing to the same URL.
Top 5 Ways to Diversify Your Anchor Text
Although it may seem simple to vary the anchor text used on your website, you still want to make sure that the anchor text fits well with your content and has something to do with the subject of your article. Consider some of the following tricks to help diversify your anchor text:
- Synonyms – This is by far the most popular way to vary your anchor text. This works well because the word you are going to use means the same thing; thus avoiding any re-writing. I’ve always found that I find synonyms that work even better than the anchor text I originally had in mind. For example, if your original anchor text is “
- Long Tail Anchor Text – This is a great way to help bring targeted traffic to your site (which often converts the best). Think about your keyword and then consider some of the long-tail versions of that keyword. For example, if someone was looking for “Italian restaurants in Tennessee” you may want to use this phrase as your anchor text as opposed to “restaurants in Tennessee” or “Italian restaurants.”
- URL – Using the URL of the link where your anchor text is pointing makes it easy for readers to know exactly where they are going. Although this isn’t my favorite way to vary an anchor text, I use this tactic when I’m referring to something that doesn’t look quite as natural. For example, a sentence such as “visit Highervisibility.com for more information” works well.
- Plurals – This is a very simple way to change your anchor text. Although this will usually involve changing the content around a bit (which many companies forget!), it’s probably the simplest way to diversify the text.
- Natural Terms – Using anchor text such as “click here” is usually not the first choice for many business owners, but it does help content look more natural. It’s tough to rank well when using an anchor text that is so broad and widely used, but this is focused on action. When a reader comes to the site, he/she will likely be more apt to click for more information.
Despite the idea that changing anchor texts is so easy, many companies are still ignoring its important. Even if your website did not take a hit from Google Penguin, there is most likely going to be another update in the near future. It is important to understand how anchor text works now so that you can avoid making mistakes going forward.