• A site that ranks very well (1st result) for something like 'best blue widget'.
  • It also ranks very well (1st page) for 'blue widget'.
  • It ranks not so well (2nd page) for 'widget'.

Obviously, the number of monthly searches are much higher for 'widget' than for 'blue widget', which is still higher than for 'best blue widget'. Now the actual question:

When creating new external links, how does each of the following anchor texts affect SEO for of these searches?

  • widget
  • blue widget
  • best blue widget

[HINT: The answer should be a 3x3 table]

[NOTE: Assume the site is relevant for all these keyword combination]

2 Answers 2


Hint: The answer won't be in a 3x3 table because it's not that cut and dry :)

The more words in an external link the less targeted that link is for for each word individually. So having a link that just says "widget" will help you rank better "widget" then an external link that contains the phrase "best blue widget". But both will help you as they both contain the keyword "widget".

You also have to remember that the keywords in the link are just part if that link's value. A link from a widget manufacturing website with the anchor text of "best blue widget" will do more to help you rank well for "widget" then a link from a Britney Spears website that links to you with only the word "widget" in it. This is because links from related sites are much more valuable then links from unrelated sites. Additionally, links from higher ranked pages for "widgets" will carry more weight then links from poorly ranked sites for the same term. So two links with the same anchor text can carry dramatically different weight.

If your goal is to ultimately rank well for "widget" I would start by targeting longer tail keywords like "best blue widget" first. Since it's easier to rank well for those terms you can achieve a level of success sooner. This will raise your visibility to other widget related websites from which you can attempt to get more generic links from that contains words like "blue widget" and just "widget". If you aim for "widget" right from the get go it could be a long term before you see the fruits of efforts.

  • Not a bad answer, thanks for trying, but I'm having trouble knowing when to move from the very specific to less specific.
    – Itai
    Commented Jun 25, 2011 at 3:05
  • @Itai, set goals for traffic and monitor your rankings. When you reach your traffic goals using very specific phrases start to focus more on less specific setting new goals for those phrases. Repeat the process until you reach all of your goals.
    – John Conde
    Commented Jun 25, 2011 at 3:23

A couple of things you need to take into account.

  1. Google has reduced the value of anchor text for SEO so it isn't as important as it once was exactly because people are trying to game it.
  2. Number of searches and click throughs per keyword doesn't necessarily mean anything. For example if visitors searching for "widget" have an 80% bounce rate on your site, visitors searching for "blue widget" have a 40% bounce rate, and visitors searching for "best blue widget" have a 10% bounce rate then you will need to get almost 5 times more visitors increasing your SERPs click through for "widget" than you will for increasing your SERPs click through for "best blue widget". That becomes especially true for Adwords keyword phrases because you are paying for those clicks. I would argue though that you are paying for your natural SERPs clicks indirectly with effort and time expended. In which case going after "widgets" most likely has the lowest value.

That being said, @JohnConde is right. There are a lot of things to take into account, like the site the link is on, etc.

If everything is the "same" for the value of the site the back link is coming from then the answer straightforward. Anchor text of "blue widget" will help "blue widget" searches and "widget" searches but not as much as it helped "blue widget". For the phrase "Best blue widget" it will help the exact match the most, "blue widget" the second most and "widget" the least. How much of a difference it makes for each of these is only known by Google but I would but the value of non exact matches drops of pretty significantly.

  • The first half of the answer is off-topic (I said to assume the site was relevant for all combinations). The second half is in the direction of what I am looking for (all else being equal) but your comparisons in each dimension of the problem make it impossible to know which combination will help the most.
    – Itai
    Commented Jun 25, 2011 at 3:07
  • @Itai - The first half of my answer is not about what happens for sites without relevant combinations. It is talking about how you actually measure "help". If you use incorrect measuring systems you spend a lot of time and money doing something that didn't help you. Secondly, there is not going to be any exact answer. SEO at this point in time is not a hard science because Google and others do not release there systems so all we can do is make best guesses. The is especially apparent because none of this is done in a vacuum and there are hundreds of variables in pay in this example. Commented Jun 25, 2011 at 11:39

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