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The Autist's Guide to Finding Anchor Text Distribution for Your Target Keyword
Ignore the NGMI SEO's and tailor your anchor text to what Google wants instead
Welcome, Anon! I’m sure you’ve seen those generic pie charts that show you the anchor text ratio you’re “supposed” to have. Usually it’s broken down into something like this: 50% branded/URL, 25% topical, 10% target keyword, and 15% miscellaneous.
While that ratio isn’t bad on a general level, there is a much better way. Relying on general ratios is for NGMI types who aren’t willing to do the work that it takes to determine the optimal anchor text ratio for each specific keyword that they’re trying to rank for.
In this article I’m going to show you how to decide the exact anchor text ratio for every single one of your target keywords. This takes the guesswork out of the equation and gives you a solid ratio that you should shoot for when doing link building outreach.
Pull the anchor text data for the #1 result and copy it
NGMI’s rely on general anchor text distribution ratios like the one I listed above.
If you actually want to get the #1 spot for a high search difficulty keyword, you’re going to have to stop being lazy and actually do a little bit of work.
You need to pull the data from whichever page is ranking in the #1 spot in the SERPS for your target keyword before you start building links. To do this I recommend using a tool like SEMRUSH (LINK) (expensive) or Ubersuggest (LINK) (cheap). In this guide I’m going to use Ubersuggest to make it more beginner-friendly, but the process is similar for SEMRUSH and other tools like it.
Imagine that you want to rank for the keyword “best coffee mugs”. The #1 result at the time of writing is https://www.foodandwine.com/lifestyle/kitchen/best-coffee-mugs (LINK).
Open up your Ubersuggest dashboard and look for “SEO Explorer” on the menu on the left side of your screen. Click the drop-down menu and choose “Backlinks.”
Copy and paste the URL for the #1 result for your targeted keyword in the form at the top of the screen. The “Type” will automatically be listed as domain, so you’ll need to change it to URL using the drop-down menu.
Ubersuggest is going to display a large amount of information about the backlink profile for the page that you just searched for. For the purposes of this article, go ahead and ignore most of it and find the box that shows the anchor text along with the number of backlinks for each.
The data that it shows on the dashboard is just a snapshot. To get the full anchor text data, click on “View All Anchor Text Distribution” at the bottom of the box.
This will take you to a page that shows the complete anchor text distribution for that specific page along with the number of backlinks for each variation.
As you can see, for this particular keyword the overwhelming majority of anchor text features the target keyword. I define target keyword anchor text as any phrasing that uses at least one of the words that you are trying to rank for. Since this example is for “best coffee mugs”, then anything with the word “best”, “coffee”, or “mugs” is considered target keyword anchor text.
This page also has a couple URL anchors, which I define as either the exact URL or a URL that goes to the top-level domain of the site.
This page doesn’t have very many backlinks with branded anchor text (Food & Wine). The ones that it does have are combined with target keyword anchor text, for example “12 best coffee mugs for 2020 food wine”.
There are also a few backlinks with random miscellaneous anchors.
Based on the anchor text data, it’s obvious that the #1 result in the SERPS for “best coffee mugs” isn’t following the generic advice when it comes to anchor text distribution. Rather than relying on primarily branded and URL anchors, this page is ranking with mostly target keyword anchors with only a few branded and URL anchors.
If you are in the same niche and you want to rank for this keyword, it would be wise to copy their anchor text distribution. For whatever reason, Google has decided that this page provides the best results for the user and this is exactly what they want to see from you if you want to steal the #1 spot.
Sometimes the pages that rank highly in the SERPS do so while seeming to defy the common advice given by SEO gurus and even Google itself. The anchor text distribution for “best coffee mugs” calls for mostly keyword match anchor text, which is commonly considered to be a spammy tactic that hasn’t worked since it was the hottest SEO technique of 2008. It might be tempting to ignore what the data is telling you and instead focus on what the “SEO community” thinks that your best practices should be.
Don’t do this.
The data never lies.
If you want to be #1 in the SERPS, then you need to do what the #1 page is doing, only better.
Anchor text distribution is obviously not even close to the most important factor when it comes to ranking in Google. The quality of the backlinks that you obtain is much more important for off-site SEO, but if you really want to optimize your page for the #1 spot then you need to pay attention to everything.
This is especially true for highly competitive niches.
If you’ve already built topical authority (LINK), optimized your technical SEO, demonstrated trust and authority (LINK), and built high-authority backlinks (LINK) but you’re still not ranking; then it’s time to pay attention to your anchor text distribution.
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