Anchor Text Distribution Monitoring [to Avoid Google Penalties]

Anchor text monitoringAnchor text distribution can kill your rankings if done incorrectly.

Not monitoring the anchor tags can cost you all your organic traffic.

So, are you sure you want to risk it?

These days you can get the penalty for a lot of things, but most commonly it’s for – Over Optimized Anchor Text.

In fact, this is one of the top-3 reasons why SEO experts suggest to disavow backlinks.

At one point a backlink on your “money keyword” was a good thing for SEO, but now it is something that requires careful planning and attention.

Which means that there should be a way of optimizing your anchor text and avoiding a penalty at the same time.

Well, that’s what this post is all about:

  1. Here, we’ll be talking about different types of anchor texts
  2. How to spot over-optimized anchor texts and what’s the perfect ratio
  3. And How to fix them
  4. As well as why you need Linkody for it.

So, let’s dig in.

Different Types of Anchor Texts

All the different anchor texts can be split into 5 categories.

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So, before we move forward – let’s make sure we are on the same page.

1. Branded Anchors

This is actually pretty simple.

Branded anchors are those that have the name of your brand in the text.

This is the safest choice of anchor text – cannot go wrong with this one.

2. Generic Anchors

As the name suggests, this anchor text uses only generic, common words. Usually, they contain text for Call To Action (CTAs), such as “Click Here”, “Go Here”, “Join Free”, “Sign Up” and so on.

But you can also think of more generic words.

3. Naked Link Anchors

Naked Link Anchors are those that contain the same keywords as in their URL – that is, a raw URL. The effectiveness of this anchor text lies in the fact that it’s providing some transparency.

4. No Anchor Text

Well, the problem is with having text, isn’t it?

So, how about – we don’t use text at all?

Yeah, that’s not a good idea. 

Try to avoid this at all cost.

5. Image Anchors

This works in a similar way to the previous example, but, instead of not putting in text, you simply use an image.

This even helps to diversify your anchor profile.

A commonly used image anchor is a “back to top” button, although it leads you back to the same site. However, the approach can be used for any clickable link.  

What are Over-optimized Anchor Texts?

Nowadays, the best links are natural links. Out of those, the best ones are “naked” URL’s.

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For Example – this is an over-optimized link (focus keyword – “web strategist Philadelphia”)

overoptimized anchorAnd after all the link building, if 90% of your links are over optimized then it will be too late. It’s better to check your backlink anchor text and change them right away. And Linkody can help you do that.

The importance of monitoring your Anchors

SEO expert Eric Enge says: “Inorganic links can happen from very high authority sites, as well.” -we all love backlinks from high authority sites, right?

But you cannot control all the backlinks you get and the anchor text if you don’t have a tool that does that for you, so that means that you need to check whether a high authority site has over optimized your anchor text, right when it happens.

When you notice that, you can contact them and say: “Hey, that is over optimized, can you please change it to a naked link?”  so that you will not get a penalty from Google.

52% of experts disavow links if the anchor text is over optimized!

Why Anchor Text Distribution Matters

After the Penguin update, the ratio of different types of anchor texts you have in your link profile has become incredibly important.

Before Penguin, it was relatively easy to spam out spun articles with the exact same keyword-focused anchor texts. The helped your page to move quickly up the ranks for your chosen queries.

When Google noticed this issue they had to find a simple and logical way to deal with it. And they did – Google started penalizing unnatural link profiles.

Google little spiders started to identify link profiles with an unnaturally high ratio of keyword-specific anchor texts. Put another way, a natural link profile.

The sites with no deliberate SEO have most of its anchor texts saying the name of the business, the website URL, or things like ‘click here.’

That’s how it should be.

In a natural link profile, only a relatively small percentage of the anchor texts will actually have specific keywords in them.

Google peeps figured out that it’s a bit fishy if a page had perfect on-page optimization for a particular keyword along with lots of anchor texts with that exact keyword pointing towards it.

All that said, having keyword-specific anchor texts is still very important for good rankings – so you have to learn to do both.

You need to build keyword-specific anchor texts to rank.

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But you need to make sure your anchor text distribution is diversified and natural enough not to trigger penalties.

Not easy, right?

So, make sure you monitor your anchor texts.

Fun SEO Fact 😉

To monitor your anchor texts you can use Linkody:

  • You can monitor your anchor texts
  • See their distribution
  • And check top anchors and terms

It’s an almost bullet-proof way to avoid penalty.

Head over here and start your 30-day Free trial now.

Site That Got Penalized For Anchor Texts

To believe it, we have to see it, right?

Here’s an example, when site got penalized for overoptimized anchors.

As we all know – Interflora is one of the biggest florist brands  – but after the penalty, they did not rank even on their own business brand name…

And what happened is that they bribed other bloggers with FREE flowers so that they could get a backlink in return with their wanted anchor text.

It’s obvious that it is not a natural link, right?

After the penalty, they asked all the bloggers to remove those links and tried to save the situation, but it was already too late…

You would not want that to happen to you, right?

So, the next section is a must read.

What Would a Good Anchor Text Ratio Be For Your Backlinks?

The thing is, you don’t have to worry about a “good anchor text ratio” as long as your backlinks are natural.

Of course, the fact that you are building your backlink profile may seem unnatural for some – because you are making those backlinks by doing outreach and stuff like that. But, in the end, it’s necessary and unavoidable.

Moreover, you’re also going to use anchor text to make Google think that they are natural backlinks. So, it’s all fine in the end.

But first, let’s see what a natural profile looks like.

Basically, if we simply follow the same process that sites that are ranked #1 in Google search follow, we will understand what a natural profile is.

There are 3 super-categories that every link falls under. We need to make sure that there are a number of links falling under each of these types:

  • Exact Match Anchors, where one of your key phrases is an exact match for your anchor text.
  • Key Phrases Mixed Into Anchors, where one of the key phrases has an exact match in your anchor, but your anchor also has other words that are not part of the key phrase.
  • Brand, Natural and URL Anchors, where, apart from Brand name, there is no reference to the key phrase.

For example, in the case of a home page, at least 85% of the links should fall under Brand, Natural and URL Anchors. Whereas for your inner pages, 35% of the links should be of the Brand, Natural and URL Anchors category and another 40% should be of Key Phrases Mixed Into Anchors.

This is because the homepage is used to build brand trust with Google. So most of the links to your site should go to your homepage. And it should be twice the number of your next-highest page.

Here’s an example of Overstock’s homepage profile:

pasted image 0 (2)

They have only 2% of links that are of Key Phrases Mixed Into Anchors category. And that is actually enough.

How to Fix Over-optimized Anchor Text

So far, we have seen how we can come up with an anchor text that isn’t over-optimized. Now, we’ll see how we can fix an anchor text that is already over-optimized.

Disavow the Over-optimized Anchors

Disavowing backlinks can take time but it’s a must if you find yourself or your client in a situation with over-optimized anchor texts.

In fact, top SEO experts completely agree.

  1. Reach out to the webmasters or website owners and ask them to remove the links. The first strategy is to ask them politely.
    • If that doesn’t work, tell them that, if not removed, you will add their links to the Disavow list which could impact their rankings in the long-term (this always works).
  2. You can also reach out to the web host with a request to remove the link.
  3. Finally, if everything fails, submit a disavowal request to Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools) after using Linkody’s disavow tool.

Decreasing Keyword Density

If you use the same keyword a lot of times in your page, then your keyword density increases, and very soon, you will be in the penalty zone.

The solution, obviously, is to use them sparingly, and only on the most critical places, such as the Title tag, First sentence, ALT Tag of the first image and so on. The ideal density is between 1% and 3%.

Decreasing Keyword Dilution 

If you’re trying to rank more than one page for the same keyword or for keywords which are related, then you should know that it confuses Google and decreases search engine visibility.

You can solve this by targeting only one page for your keywords. Google will automatically rank pages for all the variations of the keyword.

The Anchor Text Dilution 

A combination of a low-quality link profile and lots of keyword-rich anchor text is actually bad for you.

So all you have to do is build unoptimized backlinks to your site with Branded, Generic and Naked Link anchors. And avoid keyword-rich anchor texts at all costs.

Strong and relevant backlinks

Although, they take more time to get, I would still advise you to use as many as possible.

And there it is. Just sit back and watch as you attain some amazing rankings!

How Linkody helps You With Anchor Text Distribution

Linkody allows you to quickly and simply keep an eye on anchor text distribution through an intuitive interface. Under the Analytics section of Linkody (1), you’ll find 2 tabs (2 & 3).anchor text distribution

  1. The first table shows which are anchor texts that are the most frequently linked to your site.
  2. The second tab shows the anchor terms.

This will show you very quickly if you have a disproportionate number of exact-keyword phrase links. Or if you have an overall natural and healthy looking link profile.

To name a few, there are other graphs that show:

  1. Spam score distribution,
  2. Do-follow vs Nofollow link distribution (read more here what should be the ratio),
  3. And even MOZ metric distribution.

On top of all this – you can see the site’s full anchor report.

This is what the anchor text report looks like when you press on “view full report”

Full report

So what can we see there:

  • Anchor Text – Text that is on the backlink
  • Backlinks – How many backlinks you have on that anchor text
  • Dofollow – How many of those backlinks are dofollow links

Difference Between Anchor Phrases and Anchor Terms At Linkody

So now that you have decided to use Linkody for anchor text monitoring (fingers crossed :D), you probably have a question or two about the analytics data.

There are 2 types of data shown in Linkody – “Top Anchors” and “Top Anchor Terms”


Top Anchors – So this graph shows the full anchor text that is on your backlink.

Top Anchor Terms –  This shows what the most popular words in your anchor text are, but not full anchor text on the backlink. With this graph, you can see the word which is the most popular one in your anchor texts.

So, how all this can help your (or client’s) site avoid the penalty?

Using Linkody Data to Adjust Your Strategy

So it’s one thing to be able to track all this data and other to use these metrics.

But how?

Well, for starters you need to be able to look at the data within a logical framework and make sense of what it’s telling you about where your site is heading.

If your link profile is 25% keyword-specific links; with exactly the same anchor text.

You’re going to be in trouble very quickly (if you aren’t already).

In this case you would want to change strategy to diversify links and focus on building less-optimized anchor texts. For instance, more links which simply say the name or URL of the website.

If the problems in your link profile are a bit more subtle.

For instance, you may simply need to use more synonyms for your keywords in your anchor texts.

Again, Linkody gives you the view you need to figure that out and adjust your strategy accordingly.

If the Penguin update scared you so much that now you have barely a few keyword-specific anchor texts.

You are not the only one.

If your anchor texts are too generic, you might need to start a more focused campaign to build keyword-specific links for the terms you’re trying to rank for.

If you do this, remember to mix up the anchor texts a little bit. Use synonyms and variations. Don’t just use the exact same term for every link.

Identifying Problems Early

When it comes to link building strategy – it’s extremely important to be able to identify problems developing in a link profile early.

If you don’t catch an unbalanced anchor text profile before it gets out of hand. This almost certainly could trigger a penalty before you even know what went wrong.

Each time Linkody discovers some new links the tool will update the anchor text profile. Better sure than sorry, right?

Negative SEO

Linkody is not only useful for helping you keep an eye on your anchor text profile but but also malicious links. These are the backlinks you are not responsible for creating and which may be deliberately harming your site.

Linkody’s analysis tools can help you spot when negative SEO early on. This, of course, helps to take action steps to combat it before any lasting damage is done.

Ready to monitor anchor texts?

This is something that we pay attention when we are already in a mess from which it’s hard to get out.

So, if you take action now, you can start monitoring your anchor texts already now and make sure your anchor distribution is top notch.

Do you know what’s your anchor text distribution?

Much like dentists – we visit one only when the teeth hurt.

And in both examples consequences can be more hurtful.

Don’t gamble with your organic traffic – be in charge of your anchor text profile.

So, the only thing you have to do is – start monitoring your anchor texts now.

2 thoughts on “Anchor Text Distribution Monitoring [to Avoid Google Penalties]

  1. Hi. I liked the article. I’m studying SEO and related stuff, and this blog is helping me.

    Just wanted to say to keep up the good work.

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