Steady your SEO Ship with the Correct Anchor Distribution

by Alex on May 6, 2013

The right anchor text distribution for good SEO

By the time the Panda and Penguin updates from Google had been rolled out the internet changed almost instantly, and although my niche sites suffered dramatically as a result (as did my income) the simple fact is that these changes were for the better.

Now no one really knows for sure what the new algorithms actually were but it was easy to see just by looking at the aftermath what the point was, that being to make the internet cleaner and easier to navigate. Basically it was a cull of spam, and this was in both a content and backlink sense.

Post Panda & Penguin Content

The idea of the updates was to rid the web of crappy substandard content – that is, Spun content and low quality articles that provided no real value to the readers but were there only to add value to the backlink profile of the offender, I mean the webmaster ;)

The onus now is on quality content that delivers value to both readers and the internet as a whole and this is evidenced by the fact that all the sites that were not affected contained genuinely insightful information and articles that actually provided the answers to the questions being asked in search.

Beat the Panda & Penguin and Win on 2 Levels

post penguin content for the win

Careful though, they know Kung Fu AND Tap Dancing

If you want to rank your site in this post panda/penguin Google world then you need to produce content that actually adds value. This goes without saying but now that social media is such an integral part of the web, producing this good content can be more worthwhile than you think.
When you write a genuinely good piece of content and optimise it for the search engines you not only put yourself in the best possible position to rank high in the search engines and get lots of organic traffic, you also give yourself the benefit of attracting the attention of other webmasters who may reference your article and share it within their own social circles.

It is said that ‘Relationship Building’ is the new ‘Link Building’ and I could not agree more. Of course finding these other webmasters who may link to you is another battle entirely, but with the right content you have at least armed yourself with the right artillery.

One of the best and most thorough articles I have read recently on this exact subject comes from Jason Acidre (a.k.a – KaiserTheSage) and I strongly recommend you bookmark it for future reading:
Linker Outreach: A Method for Social and Editorial Link Building

The Other part of the equation that was greatly affected by the recent updates from Google was in the types of backlinks being directed to a site, and more specifically – the Anchor Text that was being used.
When I look at sites that were not affected by the algorithm changes the first thing I notice is that none of Aunt Betty’s blogs about Cats seemed to take a dive -(even if they had I guess they would have landed on their feet anyway right ;) )

And herein lies the biggest clue as to what happened…

The New Anchor Text Formula for Beating Google

a good anchor text profile will boost SEO

Watching the Algorithm update like any good Anchorman should

Google was smart enough to realise that spammy link building strategies involving low quality content spun into a thousand copies would result in an unnatural anchor text build up, and it used this to its advantage, wiping out sites that showed backlink profiles that had unnatural looking anchor text and an overuse of keywords.
Sites like Aunti Betty’s Cat blog however had none of these problems because their ignorance towards SEO (and their genuine interest in only sharing what they deemed to be valuable information) showed a backlink profile that was varied and not ‘forced’ as it were. Therefore it is fair to assume that…

The key to ranking sites now lies in natural looking anchor text distribution.

There are obviously a number of variables within this equation like do-follow and nofollow, types of links being acquired and quality of sites that those links come from but I will not be getting into those here. If you want to read more on this then I recommend the following two articles:

What I want to share is here is the new algorithm for Anchor Text Distribution (for lack of a better phrase)
I highly recommend that you copy this information and print it out so that you are always aware of it as you build your own SEO profile and rank your sites in the search engines.
*This algorithm comes from extensive testing and I can say unequivocally that it works too!

Follow this Penguin and Panda Safe Anchor Text Formula

  • 15% of your anchor text/backlinks should be focused on your primary keywords.
  • 35% of the anchor text should be Brand based – this means any combination of your sites wording ( Alex Whalley, AlexWhalley’s website, etc etc)
    *This is where my argument FOR keyword rich domain names gets a solid boost – because although it is said that Google is placing less emphasis on keywords in the domain name, the fact that having keywords here means you can effectively turn that initial 15% into 50% is surely a good thing right?
  • 40% need to be user defined (meaning anything that a normal layman would use to link back to your site: Click here, view more, check this site out, follow this link, go here etc etc)
    *To go back to Aunti Betty and her cat blog, it is for this exact reason that sites like hers did not suffer as a result of the algorithm changes. It is in part due to their ignorance that they ended up being pushed up the rankings. Just think ‘Natural looking’
  • 10% need to be longtail keywords, basically anything that includes your primary keywords but worded differently
    *Read this article here on the importance of longtail keywords for both a definition and examples of best use practices

As you can see, this new anchor text algorithm will make your backlinking look natural to Google and will help you rank for the primary keywords in question (this is how the Penguin has impacted linkbuilding and as you can see from this new pattern, and applying some common sense – the sites that rank with this in mind are the ones that naturally get linked to and are not spamming the web with keywords)

It is also important to remember part 2 of the algorithm…

The new algorithm also requires that the links are not all pointing to the home page, meaning that in the case of squeeze pages … a blog is required. (at the very least a few pages of SEO optimised content on the backend)

  • 25% of your backlinks point to the main page or homepage
  • 75% of your backlinks point to deep nested pages on the site (any other page)

I also recommend making a conscious effort to link OUT to relevant and authoritative websites every so often as this shows Google that you are providing quality references for your readers and not just hogging all the love for yourself
*The fact that these links can also garner the attention of the sites in question and lead to possible links back and or relationships is just an added bonus


Google has done a fantastic job of keeping the web clean of spam and crappy low quality content, and although the updates will continue to come and sites will continue to be penalised – creating a back link profile that is based solely on quality content and relevant links will always, and I mean ALWAYS stand you in the best position to not be affected in a negative way by these future changes.

Further Reading:
I recently published a post on Ana Hoffman’s Traffic Generation Cafe Blog that takes you step by step through the process of reverse engineering your SEO competition in order to gain quality backlinks that we KNOW Google will love. Check it out, and be sure to read the articles I references throughout this post.


John Banks May 6, 2013 at 4:47 PM

Hi Alex,

Interesting post – it still gives me a bit of a headache though when I read these posts. I think I will leave it to the experts. Whenever there is talk of Google, Pandas, Penguins, Anchors and them all blended up via some algorithm I tend to leave it on the table. My algorithm days are nearly over (engineering degree) thank god!

I wonder what it looks like?

Also the Anchor formula – looking at this I would say that this is how most links would naturally end up anyway so I guess Google have got this one right? It does seem the most natural, logical way.

Part two is the key for me – I mostly tend to point any links to my blog homepage, I will be changing this for any future links.

Cheers for the info,

Alex May 7, 2013 at 12:58 AM

Hey John,

LOL – let’s do a deal, I’ll handle the SEO and you handle the Infographics… those things give ME a headache! :)

Glad you found value in the post despite the flashbacks to engineering classes – definitely a good key takeaway with regards to the distribution of links to your site

Joe May 6, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Thanks Alex for a terrific post. I am taking your recommendation to look at the posts etc in other links and clicked on”optimise it for the search engines” In this post you said:

“BUT if you write that review and in it you link to say ‘Guide Dogs Australia‘ and talk about the work they do, then you link to maybe a high ranking ezine article that highlights a point you are making (etc etc) then you are telling Google that not only is your content unique and relevant, but it is also helping readers to learn more – expand their knowledge on related topics and (generally speaking) stay on your page that little bit longer. (which also factors into your overall rank)”

Could you tell me what you do to make sure that your reader comes back to your post after they click on one of your links within it such as I just did with the link “optimise it for the search engines’..

Alex May 7, 2013 at 12:56 AM

Hey Joe – with regards to your question, I thought I gave all my links the target=blank tag which basically means the link will open in a new window, allowing the site you are currently on (in this case mine) to still be open so you can simply click back on the tab.
A good trick that I do when reading articles that contain links is to hold the CTRL key down whilst pressing the mouse button. This will cause the link to open in a new tab regardless of the link attribute and target.

Hope this helps, and thanks for taking the time to read and comment Joe.

Jane May 6, 2013 at 6:42 PM

Great post Alex. There’s one thing I notice with anchor texts – most of the blog commenting links come from using name as anchor text. Will this affect or cause penalty in any way? Although Google can realize (?!) that it is the name of the webmaster, there will be still a whole bunch of links with that anchor text – especially if the blogger is an active commenter.

Alex May 7, 2013 at 12:53 AM

Good question Jane,

I for one have a backlink profile on this blog that is full of ‘Alex’ anchors. It does not seem to have had any negative impact on my SEO and granted it is part of my ‘brand’ – I think that Google realises what is going on with this particular situation and would never penalise you for it.
Definitely something I will investigate further… Great question again Jane

Ryan May 7, 2013 at 12:15 PM

I don’t imagine this should have a negative effect on Google–after all, they’re the one’s that are so interested in making everything more “natural” online. And I can’t imagine anything more natural than a non-seo posting in a thread using their NAME in the NAME field, which, incidentally, makes a ton of NAME anchor texts. Does that make sense? It sort of does in my brain anyway. Cheers!

Matt Smith May 7, 2013 at 12:07 AM

Fantastic post Alex!

I really liked the fact that you gave a good idea to the different types of links to use and how frequently you should use them. I’m probably guilty of linking to my homepage a little too much, but I didn’t realize that anchor text like “click here”, “view more”, “check this site out”, etc. were viable. Will look to use more of these when adding links.

I’m a big fan of the changes Google has been making. Any way to actively clean up the internet of spam should be seen as good thing. Saying that though, I’m still getting plenty of submissions sent to me from so called “SEO Experts” which do the exact opposite of this. I’ll be sure to send these people a link to your post. :) Going to take a while for the clean up process to happen.

Alex May 7, 2013 at 12:49 AM

Hey Matt, thanks man – really appreciate the thoughtful comment and indirect kudos.
With regards to the user generated anchors I am still trying to get used to the idea of writing all this awesome content and then hyperlinking the ‘click here’ portion of it – but amazingly IT WORKS (go figure right ;) )

“I’ll be sure to send these people a link to your post. ” LOL! Classic

Dakota May 7, 2013 at 7:35 AM

Hey Alex,

I love the updated version of properly dealing with Google. A question I have is that when I leave comments should I link back to internal pages rather than the homepage? I understand with commentluv, you can link to an internal post, but should I do the same with the ‘website field’ to spread the love?



Alex May 7, 2013 at 6:55 PM

I think with commenting you do not have to worry about this rule so much – I mean as Jane already brought up, the question of whether constantly using your name to link back to your site would have an adverse reaction seems to be null and void – Google are aware that this is not spamming and I would imagine the same would go for the fact that all these links are also pointing to the home page.
I admit that if I have a post that pertains to the comment I am making then I will try and use that in the website field but generally I always link back to the home page
This is more of a guide for when you are creating backlinks within articles, web2.0 sites, social profiles etc etc
Hope this helps Dakota :)

James May 12, 2013 at 12:40 AM

Anchor text diversification is very important and the ratio above is perfect match of anchor text. Thanks for sharing valuable information with us.

Ruchi May 13, 2013 at 6:03 PM

Hi Alex
Awesome Article so informative as a Novice SEO this is so helpful for me and very good candid explain to understand so easily. I think if you give anchor text very essential your anchor text classified different niche post not a single page.

Jacob May 15, 2013 at 8:00 PM

Simple, easy and got me some good points in less than 2 minutes… Perfect Alex……

Alex May 15, 2013 at 11:26 PM

so this article takes the (host) cake then? ;) Thanks Jacob, appreciate the simple and easy comment. Respect

Marco May 19, 2013 at 6:38 AM

Dude, you’re saving our lifes right now. I felt so scared, when the google updates came to life, I didn’t even know what to do. No i know exactly what to do. Now I find this update actually good, cause I love connecting with new people and now it became essential for seo, which i find more than great. Thanks for the great post, Alex and for clearing our minds up ;)

Frank May 24, 2013 at 9:02 PM

I got my ranking back after google Penguin 2.0 release :)

David Hood June 1, 2013 at 3:06 PM

Keeping a website popular is about continuous reinvention. Techniques that may work today may no longer be effective tomorrow. Nobody can just sit pretty and spun articles. Unique content with reader engagement is the key.

Web Development June 4, 2013 at 9:13 PM

When it comes to Google, Panda, Penguin, Anchor text I got headache I have read about them during my Engineering but now I leave it to experts.

Aqiyl Henry@plant based life June 6, 2013 at 4:51 AM

Focus on generating quality content, increasing your social network presence to funnel traffic to your blog, and use your anchor text wisely as you have stated.

John Gough June 12, 2013 at 10:58 PM

Thank you there are some valuable lessons there and although we are all likely to find it difficult to adapt to new Google animals, you are right Google have kept the web clean. Imagine the spam there would be if they didn’t. Cheers John

Suman June 24, 2013 at 10:08 PM

Google’s Panda and Penguin updates has given us a lot to think about. I am really tired of following these post Penguin and Panda SEO techniques. Man this never ends.

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