Inbound Links and Anchor Text

This opinion was originally published on this site before the SEO Blog existed, around 2003. The date shown on this post is simply the date of the republication of the article on this SEO Blog.

The Power Of Anchor Text

Successful search engine optimization employs many factors. However, one of the most important factors is the anchor text of inbound links. Because Google, among other search engines, puts a significant amount of weight on the anchor text of inbound links, anchor text can be a decisive factor when going after top ranking on extremely competitive search terms.

Precisely how powerful is anchor text of inbound links? It is entirely possible to achieve top ranking for extremely competitive keywords without any hint of on-page-elements SEO.

  • Monster.com currently sits in the #1 spot for the search term Jobs. The word “jobs” does not even appear on that page in text form; the only occurrence is once in the form of ALT text.

  • Search Google for Computers. At this time, six of the top ten pages do not contain the word Computers in the page copy. They are there due solely to anchor text of inbound links.

  • Search Google for Profit. At this time, 7 of the top ten pages do not contain the word Profit in the page copy. They are there due solely to anchor text of inbound links.

  • Search Google for Promote. At this time, 5 of the top ten pages do not contain the word Promote in the page copy. They are there due solely to anchor text of inbound links.

  • Search Google for Advertise. At this time, 6 of the top ten pages do not contain the word Advertise in the page copy. They are there due solely to anchor text of inbound links.

  • Search Google for Click. At this time, 9 of the top ten pages do not contain the word Click in the page copy. They are there due solely to anchor text of inbound links.

  • Search Google for webhosting. At this time, four of the top ten pages do not contain the word webhosting in the page copy. They are there due solely to anchor text of inbound links.

  • Search Google for hits. At this time, the top three pages do not contain the word hits in the page copy. They are there due solely to anchor text of inbound links.

  • Do a search for exit. All of the sites on the first page are there due solely to anchor text of inbound links.

    Same thing applies when you do a search for leave, for which Yahoo! is listed in the #1 spot. Yahoo is also #1 for the search term exit, due solely to the anchor text of hundreds of mature content sites.

    Use

    So how do you, as an SEO, utilize the power of anchor text? The easiest – most cost effective – way is to choose a descriptive name for your site, and by descriptively naming your folders and files.

    Domains
    We are currently analyzing data from market research into consumer behavior in regard to domain names. The completed analysis will be published in an article entitled Descriptive Domains for SEO. As a preview of things to come, let me say that preliminary data shows descriptive domains – keyword domains, that is – to benefit from a much higher CTR than non-descriptive domains.

    File Naming

    Looking through the traffic logs of websites we maintain is a daily chore. Early detection of shifts in search engine ranking is a must in this business. One thing I’ve often noticed is search strings containing words that appear neither on the page, nor in anchor text of inbound links – except where the URL of the page has been used as anchor text. This is where we see the benefit of descriptive file naming.

    To give a poor example, I recently noticed this search string in the traffic logs of Quality-Web-Hosting.net:

    “quality PHP search engine optimization”

    But those words don’t appear in the link text of inbound links! Unless, of course, you use the URL itself as link text:
    www.quality-web-hosting.net/search_engine_optimization.php.

    As one of the most powerful search engine optimization tactics, I believe that keyword anchor text link-building should be a high priority in any search engine optimization campaign.

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    1. VansVans11-03-2006

      Google is at the top number to give heavy weight to anchor text. Yahoo & Live Search are different in this manner.
      I also tried the query “HERE” and it returned all the results which don’t have “here” on page.
      Wonder what type of weight is given to image linkback :)

    2. elvislamelvislam01-23-2007

      Did you count the results with their PRs. Let say, if a site with PR0 but a lot of other PR0′s site having anchor text pointing to it, how’s the result? The experiment seemed to be a bit too simple.

      CMS SEO

    3. nosleepnonosleepno08-20-2008

      seems like the search engines give more weight to anchor text in the following order: msn,google then yahoo. MSN definately gives alot more weight to keywords in the domain name.

    4. ToddTodd07-03-2011

      What’s sad is you can still game with anchor text… penalty seems to be 2 weeks to forever depending on the niche, and volume of new links.

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