Doing SEO for a high profile client like Marcus Lemonis will really make you question your SEO skills. Even though I had been doing SEO for 15 years, I was still nervous. I couldn’t let the opportunity of working for someone of that magnitude go to waste.
As I did the SEO for his sites, I found myself always stressed about how to get the most out of every link I built for his companies. Was I going to get his businesses penalized for using the wrong anchor text? I’m all about white hat SEO but I seemed to be second guessing my every move.
In the end, I worked extremely hard to validate everything I was doing for him and I helped him get great results. That experience made me dig deeper than I ever had in my SEO career.
Those types of challenges make us evolve. It helped me make some major SEO breakthroughs that eventually turned into SEOJet.
As I was building out how the link management software for SEOJet was going to work, I had to do a ton of backlink research. I did that research by looking at thousands of backlinks for #1 ranked web pages. More specifically, I would grab the #1 ranked website from a random search term and look at every single link that pointed to that page.
Why did I do that?
I was looking for patterns, for correlation, but most of all I wanted to know definitively what was behind the sites Google was putting in the #1 position.
The Definitive List of Anchor Text Categories
As I looked at all of these links, I decided to categorize the anchor text for each link. I know, I know. I must have a glutton for punishment. But I did it.
Back in the olden days, there was only one anchor text category that mattered — keywords. Whatever your keywords were is what your anchor text needed to be. In 2009, I used that strategy to get to #1 for “SEO services.” But link profiles are much more diverse now.
My goal was to figure out once and for all how diverse I needed to be to rank #1. And then I wanted to help others do the same.
I decided to get really granular and created 12 anchor text categories. Here are the categories with a short description of each:
- Keywords: You already know this one. It’s the phrase you are trying to rank for on any given page.
- Keywords plus: This anchor text contains one of your keywords but also some other text with it (i.e. “try this SEO software”).
- Brand: The anchor text is just your brand name (i.e. Coca Cola).
- Brand plus keyword: The anchor text is your brand name with a keyword (i.e. “used cars from Autotrader”).
- Partial keyword: The anchor text contains a part of your full key phrase you’re trying to rank for (i.e. “try this software”).
- Full URL: The anchor text is literally the URL the link is pointing to.
- WebsiteName.com: The anchor text is the URL written as “YourWebsite.com.”
- Home URL: The anchor text is the home page URL even if the link is pointing to a sub page.
- URL with www’s: The anchor text is the full URL without http:// (i.e. www.searchenginejournal.com/subpage).
- No text: This is an image link with no alt text.
- Page Title/Blog Post Title: The anchor text is the meta title of a page or blog post.
- Natural: This anchor text has no reference to any key phrases (i.e. “this website” or “here”).
Every anchor text of every single backlink I looked at fit into one of these 12 categories.
But the question was, which of these anchor texts were more important? How did I get the right mix to create the ultimate natural link profile?
Because I looked at so many backlinks, I was able to take all of that anchor text data and understand which of all was the most important to a #1 ranked link profile.
The Most Important Anchor Text
As I looked at all of these top-ranked link profiles and compared and measured what they had in common, I started noticing one anchor text category that was showing up again and again. In fact, this anchor text category was the most common among all of the backlink profiles I looked at. And it was something I had never really given much thought to before.
But almost every single #1 ranked webpage had it in common. This was a huge revelation for me.
First of all, I had never considered this anchor text as something I should pursue when I built links. But this anchor text occurred more often with #1 ranked websites than any other anchor text category.
I hope you realize I’m doing a build up on purpose, so you understand how powerful this can be for you.
Do you want to know what the best anchor text for SEO is?
The most important anchor text was Page Title/Blog Post Title.
First, let me show you what a Page Title anchor text looks like in the context of a blog post:
For the complete results of the backlink research I did, check out the following post, How To Build Backlinks – A Link Strategy From 5,734 Anchor Texts.
As you can see from the link above, the anchor text is the title of the blog post. Because most blogging platforms also make the title of the post the meta title of the page, I named it the Page Title anchor text.
Here is why it is so awesome.
It is extremely common and natural to have a website reference another blog post by the title of that blog post, just like you would reference a book by the title of the book. Because this is a natural way to have another site link to your blog post, you can get many links with this same anchor and it falls into what search engines would expect to see in a natural backlink profile. This makes it so critical to include key phrases in the title of your blog posts.
I understand that readability and clickability are both big factors in blog post titles, but if this is how people are going to naturally link to you, then take the time to figure how to make your key phrases fit in.
The Page Title anchor text shows up about 25% of the time in #1 ranked backlink profiles. So if you are too lazy to do the math but are actively building links for any amazing pieces of content you’ve written, 1 out of 4 links to that page should be the page title anchor. As more websites link to you with your page title as the anchor, you will get a boost for the key phrases found in the title of your blog post.
Since making this discovery, I have tried to find anyone else who is talking about this SEO gem. I have been really surprised to find that NO ONE in the SEO world is talking about this. Only this article mentions the page title anchor in passing. Am I the first SEO guy to figure out how important this is?
Websites that rank #1 have figured this out, or maybe they simply lucked their way into it, but now we can take advantage of this knowledge. This is what #1 ranked websites have in common.
Obviously, there is much more to the link building puzzle than just one type of anchor text. The other 11 categories play a major role as well, not to mention page relevance, website authority, etc.
But now as you build backlinks, you can add Page Title links into the mix and watch your rankings make real improvements. With Page Title anchor text, your link profile will begin to more closely match those of other #1 ranked websites.