In the early days of search engine optimization, everything was considered fair game when it came to SEO techniques. Because Google’s ranking algorithms was intrinsically dependent on factors like links and keywords, a lot of search marketing practitioners back in those days utilized questionable SEO practices to improve their websites’ ranking signals. Keyword stuffing or oversaturating web pages with keywords at the expense of user experience, as well as sending hundreds of spammy links between websites were acceptable.
Nowadays, carrying out such practices are no longer advisable. After Google released its Penguin update in 2012 and a series of other improvements, websites that violated the search engine’s webmaster guidelines suffered tremendous losses in visitor traffic after they fell out of search engine results pages. The days of black-hat SEO techniques that artificially increased the rankings of websites through manipulation were finally over.
Most SEOs today are confident in their belief that they are not over-optimizing their web pages. However, over-optimization can sometimes happen even if you no longer resort to keyword and link stuffing. For instance, it’s quite possible to overdo optimization when it comes to anchor texts. To help you avoid this trap, we’ve come up with this short guide on how you should approach anchor texts in 2015.
Avoid exact-match anchor texts
While internal linking is good, creating exact-match anchor texts is not good. For instance, you might have an anchor text in one of your pages that reads “basketball shoes,” and then you choose to link it to another page that has the URL “example.com/categories/basketball-shoes.html”
In the past, it was standard practice to link anchor texts to URLs that contain the same keywords, but after Google’s algorithm updates, using such links can now be interpreted by Google that you are trying to manipulate your search engine rankings. As a general rule, you should use this technique sparingly to avoid Penguin penalties.
Use synonyms and long-tail anchor texts
A good substitute to this is to create anchor texts with alternative synonymous words or diluted keywords. For the above example, you can have an anchor text that reads “great new footwear for basketball players” or “top-rated basketball apparel and shoes for teens.”
Brand name as anchor text is okay
If your anchor text keywords are your brand name, however, this is generally considered acceptable and natural if you’re going to link it to your website’s homepage, whose URL also contains your brand name.
Use generic anchor texts
Lastly, anchor texts with words like “learn more,” “read more,” and “click here” are considered innocuous because they occur naturally in many websites across the web. Using such generic words can help you avoid over-optimizing your anchor texts.