Training the BIG Google – It Starts with Anchor Text

It seems the trend of giving other website owners quality articles for FREE in return for a couple of anchor text-rich backlinks to their website. If I may say so, it’s about time this strategy has caught on. It really is a no-brainer and a strategy I have used successfully for years..

The BIG challenge with the strategy, up until only recently, is that the webmaster I was approaching was very skeptical as to why I was offering them a well research, well written article …for FREE. All I asked was for them to keep the 2-3 backlinks intact. The problem was they didn’t understand the SEO value of the backlink for me.


They also had no concept of anchor text and how it can be used to train the BIG Google. They didn’t understand that Google looked at the words that were contained in the link for clues to what the page they were liking to was about.

If you’re a little unsure about the use of anchor text in SEO, or a brand new to the subject, hold on a minute while I tell you a story. Then I’ll clear up your anchor text misconceptions.

“Everybody Doesn’t Know About Anchor Text!”

I recently got an email from a fellow Internet professional who was wondering if I could give him some advice about a client’s SEO issues he was straggling with. The client was pretty upset because his webpage was sliding in the rankings to page 30.

The client was clueless as to the cause. How could this happen? Well, his problem wasn’t that hard to figure out. He had been writing articles and submitting them to a 100+ article directories. This was supposedly creating a hundred or so backlinks for him. It turned out that he was also using the same anchor text (payday loan application) as the backlink text (aka; anchor text) in every single article – word for word.

So what was his problem? To begin with, Google checks out the quality of sites giving backlinks. If those backlinks all seem to be coming from low quality crapped filled articles directories, the links aren’t worth a whole lot …probably nothing.

And, as I just said, the anchor text from every single site is exactly the same. When Google sees text like “Genesis WordPress theme review” and it’s being used to link back to the same page a couple dozen times – well, Google knows this is just not right! After all, is it likely that hundreds of different webmasters all chose the same anchor text and used it to link back to a site? Of course not.

When this happens, it simply tells Google that the site is nothing other than a place that links are coming from. This kind of site has no value to Google as these sites are not showing a vote of confidence or referral. Therefore, the ranking of these sites drops – and this is what happened to this client’s site.

I Promised to Let You in on the Secret…

Okay, back to anchor text. What is it? Again it’s simply the keyword phrase that’s linked back to a page on a site – no more and no less. The keyword phrase that you use, though, is extremely important. It’s responsible for telling the BIG Google what your page is about — so it can rank it accordingly in the search results.

Let’s say that your page is promoting the best premium WordPress themes. If you want top rankings you’ll be needing backlinks to your page, preferably with anchor text phrases that clearly articulates to the BIG Google what your page is about.

Imagine this. If you have an unique article on 10 unique websites and each site linked one of the words below to your page — you can see how Google would look at the phrases link to your page as clues to what your page is about.

  1. best premium WordPress theme
  2. best premium WordPress themes
  3. top premium WordPress theme
  4. top premium WordPress themes
  5. new premium WordPress theme
  6. new premium WordPress themes
  7. premium WordPress theme for business
  8. premium WordPress themes for business
  9. premium WordPress theme
  10. premium WordPress themes

You would use the keywords in the list (and other variations) as anchor text and Google will see each of these backlinks as a vote of confidence from a couple dozen different webmasters, not 10 backlinks coming from one webmaster.

Indeed, Google looks at each word individually in an effort to determine what your page is all about and then decides where it will appear in search results.

How Many Backlinks Does a Marketer Need?

The number of backlinks needed to get good rankings depends a lot on the quality of said backlinks and the competition level. There are other considerations as well.

It is reasonable to say, though, that 20 or 30 really good quality backlinks, assuming medium competition, will be needed before you see your page going anywhere.

And It Should Take?

Well, this is not necessarily the quick way to get things done and it can take anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks before you see results, assuming you’ve already completed the 20 to 30 backlinks. Keep up the momentum. While you’re waiting, keep on coming up with links. When you can’t think of one more variation of  your keyword, simply go to the Google keyword tool and use it to find some phrases similar to your own and then work on coming up with variations of those.

Using anchor texts is not the easy way to do things and it’s certainly going to take longer than using software for article submission. But when you take into consideration the how much more successful you’ll be using anchor text, you’ll understand why it’s all worth the effort.

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links

Photo by Marc Falardeau

  • SEO Norwich

    Good post! You’re right to talk about varying the anchor text too. I’ve had some good results by chucking in the occasional ‘click here’ or ‘’ too. It makes the link profile look a bit more natural.

    • James Martell

      Agreed, it really is time to vary the anchor text widely. I would also include generic links (I.e. in his new ebook) as well.

  • Aaron Hardy

    This is a heck of an article..Keep up the good work, I love it.

  • James Martell

    Hey Aaron, thanks for the kudos. I am glad to hear you enjoyed the article.

  • Scotts Valley CA Homes

    I am new to SEO. Thanks for explaining some of the concepts. This is the first time where I have seen timelines for when you can expect to see changes. I have had expectations that were unrealistic.

  • Arsie Organo Jr

    I am one of those bloggers who is now sitting in front of my drawing board re-thinking of strategies to sustain my tech blog site. I am no expert but I hate to see my blog site go away. Thanks for this vital information as I am now, little by little, familiarizing my self on how to do things better now. I will start with the basics and I will start with Anchor text.