This post was originally published on the BuildMyRank blog but I thought that HPBL users could use this information as well. I have updated a few points in light of Penguin and added some additional information concerning recommended exact match anchor text ratios.
Keep in mind that if you submit anchor text to HPBL that is not natural or that is overly spammy, our moderators will edit so that the phrase can be naturally added to the context of a well written article.
The Exact Match Fallacy
For years, the prevailing SEO advice was to build nothing but exact match anchor text links. If you wanted to rank on the phrase “cheap auto insurance” then you just built as many links as you could with that phrase as your anchor text.
These days, the search engines are a lot smarter and too many exact match links will almost certainly put you on the radar. Even worse, since Penguin, your site may be heavily penalized for over-optimization of keywords and the linking publisher site may even be de-indexed and that is something we definitely want to avoid. So how do you future proof your anchor text strategy against the next Penguin update?
Partial or Phrase Matches and Synonyms
If your target term is “cheap auto insurance” then you should look at variations that include parts of your phrase even if these are not necessarily your main target. Some examples would be “cheap insurance” and “auto insurance”. You can also insert other terms and create new partial combinations like “best auto insurance” and “auto insurance deals”. These will still provide value and associate your linked url to relevant anchor text without using the same variation over and over again.
Synonyms are different words with similar or identical meanings and are a great way to expand your anchor text list and still send the right signals to the search engines. Google and Bing continue to improve their detection of synonyms as they relate to anchor text and site content. Using the example from above we can come up with a number of variants: “inexpensive car insurance”, “less expensive automobile insurance”, “low cost insurance for your car”. The list goes on.
Penguin Update: Even partial or phrase matches used in excess can lead to trouble post Penguin. In addition, key phrases that include just 1 or 2 words should be avoided or used only occasionally.
Universal or Generic Anchors
It is also a good idea to make liberal use of generic or universal anchor text. Anchor text like “click here” or “read more” are much more natural than exact match anchor text. As long at the generic phrases are surrounded by content relevant to the url they are pointing to, they will still send the right signals to the search engines.
The URL link
It may seem contrary to most SEO advice you will read, but yes, using the url of the page as your anchor text is not only fine but should be part of your over all anchor text strategy. Again, surrounding the link with relevant content will insure that the right signals are picked up. This is also a great way to future proof your link against any future algo updates that target anchor text.
Site Names, Company Names
Using your site or company name as your anchor text is natural and also will have the added benefit of aiding in your reputation management efforts as well.
These are just a few methods that you can use to keep your anchor text natural. Next week I will post a more in-depth analysis of Penguin and how you can avoid the dreaded unnatural links warning in Google Webmaster Tools.