How to Choose Alternative Link Text for Search Engine Optimization Purposes

If you’re having some trouble ranking well in the search engines for certain keyword phrases, it might be that you need to look at the anchor text links that are pointing to your website. Those anchors might be old and the “chain” might be rusty. You might need to update them, and even vary them a bit.

rusty-anchor-chain.jpg When it comes to organic search engine rankings in Google, one of the many factors that they consider is the “link text” or “anchor text” that is pointing to a web page. Anchor text is the “link label or link title is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink.” Google has, for many years now, looked at what other people say about you, or, more specifically, what other web sites say about your web page. So, when you’re trying to “rank well” in the search engines for a particular keyword or keyword phrase, something you can do is to try to get links to your website with certain “anchor text”.

Over the years, we have seen an increase in people trying to buy links with specific anchor text in order to influence the search engine rankings. We’ve also seen a lot of people try Google bombing (also known as googlebombing), where pranksters try to get a certain web page to show up in the search results even though that phrase isn’t mentioned on the web page. Take a look at Google’s googlebombing blog post and you’ll see an example of it. In 2007, Search Engine Land reported that Google effectively “killed miserable failure” by making changes to the Google algorithm. So, since about 2007 or late 2006 (whenever they made the change to their algorithm), it has been important to note that when you are trying to get links to your web page for search engine optimization purposes, you need to “vary the anchor text” that is used. If you want to rank for “search engine optimization”, then you need to use different anchor text links to your website, like this:

Search Engine Optimization blog
Search Engine Optimization website
Search Engine Optimization services
Dallas Search Engine Optimization firm
Search Engine Optimization and PPC company

I know that the examples above don’t link to the same web page, but the anchor text shows the various versions of the anchor text. We know that Google is “looking for” anchor text that’s not natural, anchor text that appears to be “rigged” or “too exact”. Whatever the case, you need different versions of the anchor text. Different phrases. There are several ways to come up with different anchor text:

– Look at your keyword research and see what people are searching for
– Look at your web stats. Are there certain versions of the keyword phrase that you’re ranking for that you haven’t thought of yet? Perhaps you could use one of those.
– Look at your competitors’ websites. Are they using any keywords in their title tags that you aren’t using?
– Look at the Google Wonder Wheel.

The Google Wonder Wheel is a pretty new feature, which is “a graphical way to explore topics by clicking on related searches that go deeper into the subject of the main query.” In other words, it looks like this:

Google Wonder Wheel When you perform a search query at Google, you will see a “show options” link on the top left of the search results. Click on the “show options” link and then “wonder wheel” and you will see the Google Wonder Wheel. Above, that’s an example of the Google Wonder Wheel results for “search engine optimization”. What they’re showing here is a list of keyword phrases or anchor text links that you could use if you have a website related to search engine optimization:

search engine optimzation india
search engine optimization conference
search engine optimization cost
search engine optimization for dummies
search engine optimization forum
search engine optimization pricing
search engine optimization submission
meta tags

Certainly these links aren’t exactly what you would be looking for if you were to want exact link text recommendations, but for “search engine optimization” you could use it as a list for possible ideas for blog posts on your website or, if you’re a search engine optimization firm in India then you might use that keyword phrase. For other industries, the Google Wonder Wheel is a good way to find out what others are using as anchor text to their websites. For example, if you look at that Google Wonder Wheel for “search engine optimization company” you get “seo company” (a good alternative) and (seo services) also a great alternative.

So, if you’re looking for better search engine rankings and you’re having trouble with some certain rankings for some keywords or keyword phrases, you might take a look at using the “Google Wonder Wheel” to see what Google says about a keyword phrase. It might just be that the links to your website are too “close a match” and you need some additional variances of the link text pointing to your website.

  • good article; I didn't know about the wonder wheel. I will have to try this out!!

  • Excellent article and good reminder for me to have a variety of text link phrases.