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International anchor text analysis: What is most natural?

One of the most important jobs for an SEO in these post-Penguin days is trying to maintain a natural-looking backlink profile. Penguin has now been rolled out in Googles across the world, and while it may not matter as much for Baidu or Yandex, it is only a matter of time before they too start to focus on natural links rather than blatantly artificial ones.

In order to deal with this problem, our focus is not so much on building links manually as attracting links back to a client’s sites, no matter which country they are focusing on, but when we do that, we need to ensure we are scaling those links properly and are safely avoiding all penalties.

What is a natural backlink profile, anyway?

We know that Penguin corrected for artificial anchor text and poor link quality, but we also know that from analysing backlink profiles that a little bit of anchor text does not do a site any harm. What seems to have the most influence is the anchor text on the largest number of backlinks. So what looks better where; the company brand, the URL, or another term altogether?

To find out what was most used where, we used a mix of client sites who had never suffered any penalties before we worked with them and several large ecommerce sites with multiple ccTLDs.

Please note that no single local domains were taken into account, only companies with multiple websites were used in order to compare differences between countries. All domains considered had a site in each of the countries listed in the table below, and we used ccTLDs rather than subfolders or subdomains as they are the most likely to attract natural links. All data is from majesticSEO.

So which came out on top, branded terms or URL-focused terms?

International Link Anchor Text: A Global Comparison

The most surprising result is that none of the US websites sampled for this evaluation had the URL as their top anchor text. Without exception, they all had the brand as number one. The rest of the countries vary, with China having the smallest amount of branded terms. The trends, however, are pretty clear; the most common top anchor text going back to your website should be your brand, no matter where you are, although it matters less in China.

What comes next is a mix of URLs, branded terms, and a few “others” – but no keyworded anchor text in the top three links for any of the sites, in any of the countries.

What can we learn from this?

Primarily, this is key for SEOs understanding which anchor text needs to come first in a backlink profile. If you are aiming to build links in a natural fashion, you might now decide to stick with the company’s name over the URL links. Of course, we always advocate that you mix up the anchor text used in your link building, but it is one more thing to consider even when doing SEO internationally.

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Meghan Burton

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2 Responses to International anchor text analysis: What is most natural?

  1. Ananda says:

    I have a blog about food at http://dailycookierecipes.com, I don’t know what the best anchor text link for my blog?

  2. Garner says:

    It’s interesting to see the variations for each country, especially for the UK. It just shows that we are more hung up on getting in the keyword anchor where possible.

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