This topic has been discussed since 2012. We decided to update it a bit and share some figures to help you make up your mind about your website's current anchor profile as well as the one of your competitors.
Before Panda update it was easy to just place as many keyword-based anchors linking back to your website as possible. Right after, most previous off-site optimization efforts lead to a significant loss of ranking and\or penalties. It happened because they had a backlink profile that looked artificial, as well as their anchor text distribution did: it mostly consisted of branded and keyword-based anchors. The websites that have mostly natural backlinks have a different anchor text profile and, from that moment up until now, the new algorithm can tell if it is so.
Types of anchor texts
Common sense suggests, and simple researches prove that a list of keyword groups for your website may look as follows, in case its backlink profile growths naturally:
1. Name (of your website)
2. Name + some words
3. Name + keywords
4. Keyword (exact match)
5. Keyword + some words
6. Your URL
To put it simple, these groups can be reduced to 3 major groups:
If you study it yourself for several websites, you'll most likely see a similar picture. You can use MegaIndex Backlinks free for this type of research.
However, nothing can be more artificial if you simply divide your anchors equally between those groups:
In real life your backlink profile, most likely, will never look like that, due to at least some amount of natural links even in case most of your link profile has been built by your own efforts.
Moreover, if you spread different types of anchor text evenly, this looks like a sever case of artificial over optimization and thus subject to an algorithmic penalty.
It is yet to know if there is an ideal balance between those groups. Let's find it out.
Natural keyword distribution
Typical keyword distribution depends on the following factors:
3. Type of the website (ecommerce, blog, online service, company website)
2. Page the anchor is directing to (home page, product page, category page)
MegaIndex has 138,372,471,482 unique URLs crawled which made it possible for us to deduce an average picture of what anchor type distribution looks like in most cases. The average picture doesn't belong to any specific industry, and we chose anchor text that leads to homepages to begin with. The picture looks the following way:
This gives us an average ratio of 30:30:30 for branded:keywords:other with ± 5-7% average difference between the groups.
We suggest you should study it yourself depending on what area you are in. Use MegaIndex Donors in order to compare backlinks and their attributes for up to 6 competitors at a time or MegaIndex Backlinks to study any specific website, and don't forget to download your report. Those reports are free.
Anchors to avoid
- Over optimization leads to breakdown. This is the major reason why companies may want to avoid any direct influence to their backlinks. If you keep it in mind that you shouldn't build your anchor profile solely from keywords or spread it evenly amongst different groups of anchors, you can build a healthy backlink strategy. Especially if you couple it with a thorough competitors research.
- An instant growth or an instant redistribution of your anchor types or texts would look suspicious as well.
- Random keywords doesn't mean that they may include typical spammy keywords that you all know.
Here is what backlink profiles for some international giants look like if we check it with MegaIndex Backlinks:
Screenshots from the free MegaIndex Backlinks report.
Can I rely on natural anchors only?
The official search engine's officials point of view is that you have to. Meanwhile, search engine marketing professionals still apply efforts to keep their anchor profile balanced. The least thing you can do on that path is to regularly monitor your backlink profile along with its anchors and remove those of them that seem suspicious to you.
You can make your own research for top companies websites, your competitors or any website of your choice. It is free when you use MegaIndex Backlinks that doesn't require anything but good will from you, even registration.