The terms "links" and "anchors" are part of the everyday jargon of SEOs. The link is simply the URL that leads from one page to another. The anchor is the word on which the link is embedded. Most of the time, we find this term in the context of a netlinking campaign, but the notion of anchor is also present when talking about internal meshing. On a content page, the link anchor appears as an underlined text in blue or in another colour, depending on the CSS of the website.
It is of paramount importance because it is what allows search engines to understand what is behind the link. It provides precise indications on the context of the origin page and the destination page. But beware, a link anchor should not be chosen at random, at the risk of triggering the fury of Google Penguin. This is an exercise that seems simple and obvious at first glance, but is not at all obvious in reality. The link anchor is therefore one of the elements not to be neglected in its natural SEO strategy, which should be mastered before embarking on netlinking or redesigning its internal network.
Link anchors: beware, the Google Penguin algorithm is watching you!
Google Penguin is the most feared SEO algorithm. Indeed, it is the only one capable of bringing down an entire site, in other words, it can make you disappear from search results overnight. Its penalties, whether algorithmic or manual, are very severe and it is difficult to get away with. As they say, a scalded cat fears cold water! If Google realizes that you've been playing him, you'll have to double your evidence to move up the rankings.
Thus, the first version of Penguin deployed in 2012 was a real massacre for some sites that were having fun over-optimizing their link anchors (for external links). Penguin has radically changed the web landscape and optimization methods. Today, to optimize, you have to de-optimize! Updates of Google Penguin have followed one another, but since 2016, the algorithm is in real time, which means that it is harder to detect a Penguin penalty than before.
In any case, to avoid the wrath of the one-armed man, show him that you follow the rules of the game! Don't let yourself be tempted by the aggressive techniques proposed by some referenters. black hat because one day sooner or later, you will lose the battle!
How do I find the best anchor for my bond?
There are different types of anchors that you can and should use to create a natural link profile. The first is the "branded" anchor. This is simply the name of your brand or site. Then comes the exact anchor, which contains only the keywords you are targeting, and the extended anchors, which contain other words around your target keyword. You also have the possibility to use anchors that contain only synonyms and even neutral anchors, such as "click here". Finally, you can also choose to use a "naked" URL or an image.
What are the proportions of anchors to be respected?
There is no universal rule on the use of different types of anchors. One thing is certain, the "less is more" principle is the only one that proves to be truly sustainable. Indeed, Google improves its algorithms every year and they are getting smarter and smarter. Thus, a practice that is a bit "limited" that you think is safe today may not be so tomorrow. This is why you should not put all your eggs in the same basket and vary the anchors as much as possible. It is tempting to use only exact anchors, but this is precisely the first mistake you should not make! You should not hesitate to use widened anchors, synonyms, neutral or branched anchors. They are the ones that will give you the "natural" side! For example, you can use 40% anchors related to your brand or your site, 30% extended anchors, 15% exact anchors and 15% neutral anchors.
Which anchors should be avoided?
There is no anchor to avoid strictly speaking. In fact, it is mostly the repetition of an anchor that would make it over-optimized and therefore dangerous. A site whose link profile is 100% natural displays many different anchors; as many as there are ways of thinking and writing! That's why, by multiplying the exact anchors, you send a very clear signal to Google: "I'm trying to manipulate your robots! However, if it is imperative to vary one's anchors, one must avoid "out of context" anchors at all costs. Google is indeed able to understand the semantic context of a page, so if it discovers an anchor that is irrelevant, it will give it less importance. This rule is also true for anchors in your internal mesh.
The optimization of your natural referencing must necessarily go through the optimization or de-optimization of link anchors. Remaining natural by resisting the temptation to multiply exact anchors remains the only way to build a sustainable strategy. Of course, you have to keep in mind that you are not the only person to send links to your site. You must therefore regularly audit your anchors and backlinks with tools such as SmartKeyword, Ahrefs or Majestic SEO. This will allow you to adjust your "pseudo-natural" anchors compared to anchors that are really natural. This audit will also be a way to prevent you from a possible negative SEO from a competitor not very fair.