Anchor Text and SEO

What is Anchor Text?

Anchor text is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink that is displayed on a webpage.

For example, in the sentence “Welcome to our site, click here to learn more about digital marketing”, “click here” is the anchor text.

The HTML syntax for anchor text is:

<a href=””>Example Anchor Text</a>

How Search Engines Use Anchor Text in SEO

Search engines use the descriptive text in the anchor of a link in order to help determine the relevancy and topical nature of the page that it’s linking to.

For example, if a particular webpage has lots of backlinks with the anchor “dog training”, “dog training tips”, “how to train your dog”, then search engines will be able to recongise and understand the context of the target page.

In addition to anchor text, search engines also analyze the content of the source page (i.e. the page the link is on) and the keywords and title tag of the target page in order to determine relevancy and content. This process then allows Google to return more relevant results to their users in the search queries.

Finally, SEOs have proven in the past that when you have two links on a page that both point to the same destination, Google only counts the anchor text of the “first” link when assigning relevancy.

Best Practices for Using Anchor Text in SEO

Although having targeted, relevant anchor text is great for SEO and ranking for your keywords, the historical abuse of artificial anchor text by SEOs eventually led to Google launching a new optimization penalty called the Penguin Update in April 2012.

The Google Penguin update served to counteract the manipulative abuse of anchor text and artificial backlinks by penalizing sites and removing their rankings in the search results. This is because the manipulation of your own backlinks and creating optimized anchor text is a direct violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines (under Link Schemes) as shown in the image below:

Therefore, you’re probably asking yourself “if anchor text is important for SEO, but Google gives out penalties for over-optimization, what’s the best practice for building anchor texts now?”

The answer lies somewhere in-between. Although anchor text is still an important relevancy factor in SEO, over the years Google Bots have become smarter and are now able to detect the relevance of a website based on keywords, synonyms and the title tag alone.

As outlined by this Post-Penguin Anchor Text Case Study, and backed up by, websites no longer need 100s of optimized anchor text in order to rank well in the search engines. It can sometimes be enough to just have 5-10 links with a broad range of mixed anchor text with some of your main keywords.

For example, if I wanted to rank for a term such as “buy gold” on then I might have links with the following anchor text:

  • Click here
  • Buying gold
  • This site
  • Where to buy gold
  • Gold bullion store
  • Click here to buy gold
  • Buying gold online

Internal Linking and Anchor Text

Google also analyses the relevance of content by internal links as well as external links. Therefore, you should make sure you have a good internal linking structure on your site that uses relevant, targeted keyword anchor text and distributes Page Rank across your site. Similar to external links, make sure you mix up the anchor text for your internal links as this can also lead to over optimisation issues.

How to Analyze your Website Anchor Text

In order to analyze and monitor backlinks to your site, you’ll need to use a backlink monitoring tool as explained in this previous article. For those new to SEO, we recommend using the free version of

What Does a Natural Anchor Text Backlink Profile Look Like?

The most common keywords in your backlinks should include references to your website name, raw URL (e.g. or neutral anchors that people often write when linking to a site such as “click here” or “see this”.

Most SEOs recommend at the bare minimum to have no more than 30% of your anchor text for a specific keyword, however even this is probably too high. I would probably say a maximum of 10% of your anchor text should be for one keyword (including exact-match domains).

A normal distribution of anchor text for a website normally looks something like this:

  1. 30% – Website Name
  2. 15% –
  3. 15% –
  4. 5% –
  5. 3% – here
  6. 32% – mixture of other anchor texts

You can see in the below the ratio of anchor text in natural backlink profiles: Backlinks Case Study: Backlinks Case Study: Backlinks Case Study:

How PageRank and Links Affect SEO Rankings

What is Page Rank?

400px-PageRanks-Example.svgPage Rank is a search engine algorithm patented by Google that ranks sites based the number of backlinks pointing to a specific webpage.

Page Rank uses a link equity model, which calculates the number of links to and from a webpage itself, in order to measure its authority and relevance to the user.

The original preposition was that each backlink counts as a “vote” for that webpage, so that if a webpage has lots of backlinks then it will be a more authoritative and relevant source for the user.

According to Google’s CEO and co-founder Larry Page:

Page Rank works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is. The underlying assumption is that more important websites are likely to receive more links from other websites.


Although Page Rank is still an important part of Google’s search engine algorithm, over the years Google has added 100s of additional signals in their core algorithm, making Page Rank less important then it used to be.

The History of Page Rank

Page Rank was first created in 1996 by the co-founders of Google, Sergey Brin and Larry Page (whom it was named after) during their time at Standford University.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page used Page Rank in order to develop a new search engine that relied on links to help structure the hierarchy and importance of webpages. For example, a webpage with more link popularity would have a higher ranking in the search engine results page.

Google owns patents for Page Rank for both the name and process (U.S. Patent 6,285,999).

Over time, Google has added additional signals and algorithm to the search engine process that complement the original Page Rank algorithm. In fact, they make 100s of changes to the search engine algorithm every year. For example, in 2012 Google launched a new algorithm called “Panda”, which helped to detect and promote higher quality content on the Internet.

How Google’s Page Rank Algorithm Works in Practice:

google_pagerank_explained_500wThe process begins with Google sending an automated web spider called a “Google Bot” to crawl the entire web and count links to every webpage.

Google then downloads all of this information to their massive server farms, processes the information in their computers, and then uses search engine algorithms to rank webpages in their search engine index.

Rather then just counting the number of backlinks directly to each webpage, Page Rank also uses a link equity formula of how links pass value.

For example, if a webpage has X amount of backlinks but then links out on the page itself then the link equity of that page will be diluted through the external links. This is because Page Rank or link flow is passed through each link.

Multiple links from different domains are also worth more than the same number of links from a single domain. This is because Google uses a dampening factor for links from the same domain.

A good internal linking architecture on a website ensures that the Page Rank flow is distributed even across your site to help rank individual pages.

What is the Difference Between Page Rank and Toolbar Page Rank?

seobook-toolbar-pagerankOne of the main confusions about Page Rank is the difference between Page Rank, as measured by Google in assessing the link popularity of your webpage, and then the Toolbar Page Rank.

Page Rank, as used in Google’s algorithms, is a value that measures the link popularity and equity of your webpage in real time. It is impossible to know the actual value of your Page Rank link equity according to Google (although you can use other tools such as that show relative Domain and Page Authority).

Toolbar Page Rank, on the other hand, is a toolbar you can install on your browser that is thought to display a snapshot of your Page Rank (the number of links to your site) from the last Toolbar Page Rank update. Generally, Google only updates the Toolbar Page Rank 2-3 times per year. Google is particularly reticent about how the Toolbar Page Rank is calculated.

How to Check your Toolbar Page Rank:

You can use the following websites or browser extensions to monitor to Toolbar Page Rank of a site:

Although Toolbar Page Rank helps users to see the authority of a webpage, it doesn’t necessarily correlate with search engine rankings.

Useful Videos about Toolbar Page Rank:

Google Explains Why the Don’t Turn Toolbar Page Rank Off:

Google Explains How Page Rank Toolbar is Updated:

SEO Ranking Signals and Factors Explained

As part of our SEO module, it’s important to understand how search engines such as Google rank websites for search queries and all of the ranking signals that they use.

The Important of Backlinks in Google’s Search Algorithm

When Google was founded back in 1998, they revolutised the search industry by introducing backlinks as a main ranking signal. Google treated backlinks similar to references and citations in an essay.

This helped them categorise web pages into relevance and authority. For example, if the BBC News website linked to a blog then it was a positive signal that the blog was important and should rank well in the search results.

SEO Ranking Factors in 2014

Even though Google claims to use more than more than 200 ranking factors in their search algorithm, backlinks are still of critical importance.

In fact, in February 2014 Matt Cutts released a video that said they tried to build an internal search algorithm that didn’t use backlinks but it just didn’t work – the overall quality of results suffered. Here’s the video below:

Although backlinks remain the single biggest most important ranking signal, Google still relies heavily on 100s of other ranking signals that many SEOs have commented on.

Thankfully, releases an annual survey and report on the most important ranking factors in SEO.

According to the latest SEO ranking factors report, which can be read here, links are still the most important ranking factor followed by keywords, content, brand metrics and domain-level keyword usage.

The full results are outlined below:

As you can see, backlinks (40%) are still a huge part of the ranking algorithm, however their importance has been reducing steadily over the years. For example, in the 2009 SEO rankings report links made up around two-thirds (66%) of the SEO algorithm.

WikiWeb’s Top 10 Most Important Search Engine Ranking Signals:

  1. Page-Level Authority (Backlinks and Anchor Text to Specific Web Page)
  2. Domain Level Authority (Domain Age and Backlinks to Website as a Whole)
  3. Title Tags
  4. Content Quality and Keywords
  5. Domain-Level Brand Metrics (e.g. social signals, navigational search queries for brand name)
  6. User Data (e.g. user experience, Click Through Rate (CTR%), bounce rate and traffic volume – higher traffic pages tend to rank higher)
  7. Internal Links
  8. Website Load Speed
  9. Ratio of Ads to Content on Page
  10. Mobile Responsiveness

Because there are so many additional factors that make up small chunks of the search engine algorithm we thought it would be useful to link to’s Complete Ranking Factors List who have provided a list of 200+ possible ranking factors that Google might be using.

Some of the latest ranking signals that Google has confirmed it uses in 2014 includes mobile responsiveness and website load speed. With the introduction of Google Plus and the personalization of search, it’s also likely that your personal behavior and websites that you frequently visit will influence your own search results.

High Correlation of Social Signals with Search Engine Rankings

It’s also worth mentioning that time and time again social signals (including +1s and Facebook Shares) share the highest correlation with search engine rankings.  You can see proof of this in 2013 rankings correlation report.

Although this is largely considered to be correlation without causation (especially when Matt Cutts has come out confirmed that Google doesn’t use social signals in its ranking algorithm) it does give you a clue as to the type of pages and websites that rank well in SEO.

What is SEO?

In our first lesson, we’re going to explain what SEO is and why it is important for businesses.

What is SEO? (Search Engine Optimisation)

Search engine optimization is the process of improving and promoting a website in order to increase the number of visitors to it from search engines (organic search).

The main goal of search engines such as Google and Bing is to return the most relevant, high quality results for search queries.

For example, if someone searches “buy shoes” then a search engine’s job is to provide the best results for that particular search.

SEO is about making changes and improvements to your site in order to encourage search engines to rank your website highly for your targeted keywords. This in turn generates more targeted traffic, sales and revenues for your business.

So, if you were a shoe wholesaler with the website, you’d want to SEO your site to rank for search terms such as “buy shoes”, “buy shoes online”, “cheap shoes” and hundreds of other terms.

How Important is SEO Traffic?

Although other traffic sources such as paid media and social can be beneficial to a business, more than half of Internet traffic (around 60%) comes through search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.

In the UK alone, Google has 92% market share of the search market. This means the typical UK website not only receives 60% of its traffic from search engines but also around 55% from Google alone.

In fact, a typical website’s traffic sources can be broken down into the following:

  • 40-50% from SEO
  • 25% Direct Visitors
  • 10% Referral Links
  • 10% PPC
  • 5% Social

Why Do I need to do SEO?

Although search engines are intelligent in crawling the web and delivering the most relevant results for users, there are a number of ways that a Webmaster improve his/her website’s SEO in order to ensure that it ranks better in the search engine results.

Google uses 100’s of ranking signals for their website search results, which includes important ranking factors such as backlinks, title tags, website page length, keywords, website age, user experience, technical architecture and more.

Almost every one of these signals is malleable and can be improved or optimized for your website, which is where SEO comes into it. The great thing about SEO is that the smallest changes, such as improving your page speed or changing your page titles, can generate the biggest impact on your site.

Why do you Need to Rank on the First Page of Google?

When launching an SEO campaign, the primary goal is always to get your site ranking on the first page of Google. Why? Because according to the latest research, Page 1 of Google receives 92% of all search engine traffic. This means that only 8% of searchers click past the 1st page of Google’s search results when looking for information or shopping online.

CTR and Organic SEO

Chart shows the average Click Through Rate (CTR) % for Organic Listings in the Search Results


Furthermore, separate studies have shown around 30-50% of users click on the first result in Google’s organic listings compared to 4-6% that click on the 5th result. This shows the huge importance in ranking for the no.1 position for your keywords, even if just for the short-term.

About Our SEO Training Course:

Our SEO module is designed to take you through all of the different ranking factors that search engines such as Google use and how to optimize your site for these different factors.

  • Title Tags and Keywords
  • External Backlinks
  • Content Quality and Length
  • Domain Age and Authority
  • Internal Backlinks
  • Page Speed
  • User Experience
  • Click Through Rate (CTR%)
  • Brand and Social Signals
  • HTML Markup

Google Ranking Positions and CTR%

The following lesson provides information on Google’s average Click Through Rates for organic and paid search listings.

What is a Click Through Rate (CTR)?

When starting an SEO campaign, it’s important to understand the average Click Through Rate (CTR%) that different positions get in Google’s organic search results. This is in order to calculate the amount of traffic you’ll receive based on the keyword traffic and your rankings.

The CTR shows the total percentage of people clicking on your results on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). The CTR is calculated by as follows: (No. of clicks/No. of Impressions) x 100.

Therefore, if you had 5 clicks and 200 impressions, the CTR would be 2.5%.

Similar to PPC, learning the average CTR for different positions in the organic listing helps you understand where most of the traffic goes. As you’ll see in this article, it also stresses the importance of ranking 1st – 3rd or at least first page for your main key terms

Click Through Rates (CTR) based on Organic Rankings

According to a report from the online ad network in 2013, around 33% of searchers clicked on the first organic result in This is followed by 18% CTR on the second result, 11% on the third result, 8% on the fourth result, 6% on thefifth result and so on.

The CTR for the first 15 results can be seen below:

Organic Position Rank and CTR% in

  1. 32.5%
  2. 17.6`%
  3. 11.4%
  4. 8.1%
  5. 6.1%
  6. 4.4%
  7. 3.5%
  8. 3.1%
  9. 2.6%
  10. 10. 2.4%
  11. 11. 1.0%
  12. 12. 0.8%
  13. 13. 0.7%
  14. 14. 0.6%
  15. 15. 0.4%

Interestingly, a whopping 92% of visitors clicked on the 1st page of Google’s search results when performing a search (this data is limited to the US and Canada only).

This means that only 8% searchers bother to click pass the 1st page when performing a search result. This shows the strategic importance on getting on the first page of Google for your primary keywords.

Click Through Rates (CTR) based on Paid Results/Rankings:

In addition to organic results, Google also displays paid results for PPC advertisers at the top, side and bottom of their search results. In total, 55% of Google’s searches include paid results, therefore it’s equally important to understand the CTR for these ads.

According to a report from 2011, the ratio of users that clicked on organic results compared to paid results used to be 94%: 6%. However, as Google has introduced new ad formats and changes to how their results are presented, this ratio has drastically been reduced.

For example, a report by in 2012 showed that the number of clicks to Google’s paid results outnumbers the organic results by a factor of 2:1 for some commercial queries.

Paid Search Ranking and CTR%:

According to a recent report by in November 2013, the following shows the average CTR for ads on Google:

Top Ads:

  1. 7.11%
  2. 3.01%
  3. 2.19

Side Ads:

  1. 2.15%
  2. 1.61%
  3. 1.04%
  4. 0.89%
  5. 0.75%
  6. 0.55%

As you can see from these results, if you’re engaging in a PPC campaign then most of the paid traffic will be going to the top 3 results above the fold, however the 4th ad (top of the sidebar ads) also receives a good CTR%.

Conclusion on CTR in Google

1. Google is Increasing the CTR% of People who Click on Paid Ads

Although this data was accurate when the samples were taken, it should be pointed out that Google continues to change how their search results are displayed. For example, this article by shows how Google introduced new ad formats with orange boxes in late 2013, which will inevitably have increase the CTR for ads.

You have to remember that the overall aim for Google is to increase the CTR of their paid ads, since this is where 97% of their total revenue comes from. Therefore Google will continue to introduce subtle changes that sway the click through rate of users from organic results towards paid ads.

2. CTR Varies between Different Industries

It should also be noted that the average CTR for your specific site will vary depending on the nature of the query (e.g. for brand searches the no.1 position receives a CTR of 80+%), the industry’s average click-through rates and the quality of your title tag and meta description.

For example, most people in the tech industry will avoid clicking on Adwords ads in the search results. In contrast, many mums and parents still fail to distinguish between organic and paid ads, which leads to a higher CTR% of paid ads for mums and the female market.

3. The Introduction of Universal Search, Videos and Shopping Units affects the CTR

Finally, the introduction of universal search in 2007 which includes videos, shopping results and other items in the search results will heavily effect the CTR of organic search listings. Likewise, the introduction of in-depth articles in August 2013 and the knowledge graph in May 2012 is another example of changes which will change how users engage with the search results.

How to Choose Domain and Hosting for SEO

In this lesson, we’ll explain the importance of choosing a suitable domain for SEO.

How Keyword Rich Domains affect SEO

If you’re launching a new business that will primarily be marketed through SEO or PPC, having the right keywords in your domain will provide a sizeable boost to your rankings and Click Through Rate (CTR%).

In SEO both Google and Bing give quite a lot of weight to the keywords in your domain nam (in fact, Bing massively favors exact-match domains for search queries). This is because search engines use the keywords in your domain to help understand the relevance and topical nature of the site. For instance, if your website has your main keywords in the domain name (e.g. than it gives search engines greater confidence in the relevance of your site: in this case, SEO.

Furthermore, running a site with keywords in your domain will also increase the likelihood of receiving backlinks with keyword-rich anchor text, which reinforces the SEO process.

In conclusion, while choosing a keyword domain isn’t necessarily the most important thing in SEO – after all, some of the world’s most successful sites operate on brand domains – choosing a keyword rich domain can help a lot when targeting smaller niches.

How a Keyword Rich Domain can Improve your CTR%

In both SEO and PPC, one of the ways that Google measures the quality and relevance of your website is by studying the Click Through Rate (CTR) of your site. This is the percentage of people that click on your site in the search engine results page (SERP).

Many studies have proven that exact-match and partial-match domains have a higher than average CTR% in search engines. This is because users see the keywords in the domain and assume it is a more relevant or authoritative result. This is especially true when the keywords in your domain are bolded in the results:

A higher CTR% score than your competition not only sends more traffic to your site but it also gives Google greater confidence that your site is the best result for the query. This will help promote your search engine rankings in the long-term.

In paid search campaigns, a higher CTR% also leads to a better ad score and lower cost-per-click (CPC), giving you a crucial advantage over your competition.

Types of Domains:

1. An exact-match domain (EMD) is a web domain that contains your keywords exactly. The following are examples of exact-match domains:


Up until recently, exact-match domains gave you a massive boost in SEO and as such they were extremely valuable for webmasters. However, in October 2012 Google launched a new update, which reduced the impact of exact-match domains in the search results:

Thus, while EMDs are still valuable, they have less of an impact in SEO then they used to

2. A partial-match domain (PMD) is a domain that contains some or even a mixture of your keywords but that don’t match your keywords exactly. The following are examples of PMD domains:


3. Brand domains or non-keyword domains are those that don’t include your main keywords and are brandable in nature. For example:


Is the Value Of Keyword Rich and EMDs Reducing in SEO?

According to a study by, the prominence given to EMDs and PMDs in Google’s search results has been steadily declining. The charts below illustrate the reduced appearance of EMD/PMD domains throughout 2012.

While these charts clearly show that the value of EMDs and PMDs in SEO is declining, they are still widely regarded as important in the overall SEO ranking factors.

How Does your Domain Extension and Local Hosting Affect your SEO Rankings?

Google uses the domain extension of your site to understand the geo-target preferences of your site.

This means that if you’re business is UK-centric than you should use a UK domain extension such as or, which will help promote your site in the UK search results.

On the other hand, if your business is International than you should use a top-level domain (TLD) such as .com, .net, .co or .net, which broadly targets all countries and regions.

If your business was originally UK focused but then you expanded towards an International audience, you might be better off launch a new site or migrating the site to a TLD such as .com.

In contrast, if you have an international domain extension but want to target a smaller region than you can do this by simple editing the geo-targeting preferences in Webmaster Tools.

With regards to the location of your hosting, this isn’t something you need to worry about as Google has publicly stated that the location of your website hosting is irrelevant for SEO for most websites.