If you follow SEO, you likely know that there has been a huge shift in how a successful link building campaign is run. You have likely heard how Google now gives priority to sites that have links from high quality sites, and of the Penguin Updates that crawl the web in search of low quality sites with links pointing to your website. What isn’t covered as much, but is equally important, is the portion of the Penguin Updates that tracks how these sites are linking to you.

I wanted to see how this portion of the Penguin updates have affected Google’s search results, so I put together a mini case study aimed at measuring how websites are linking to one another affects search rankings. These results are taken directly from Google, with the idea that we can take the data points directly from the horse’s mouth, and apply what we learn to our strategy.

Note: This case study is aimed specifically at inbound anchor text, and not at the quality of sites these links are originating from. Both are equally important and can act as a quality check for the other. Together they form a vital piece of the ranking algorithm, but this is only one cog in the machine.

Data Points

During my research, I gathered the following data points from nine different websites:

  • The Ratio of Branded and Generic Anchor Text versus Commercial Anchor Text
  • If the single most used inbound anchor text is Branded/Generic or Commercial
  • The single most used Branded/Generic Anchor Text, as a percentage of the total amount of links
  • The single most used Commercial Anchor Text, as a percentage of the total amount of links
  • Total Number of Backlinks

A Quick Word on Branded, Generic, and Commercial Anchor Text:
Branded Anchor Text is when a website links to you, using your brand name, or your personal name.
Generic Anchor Text is when a website links to you, using common terms such as – click here, website, or a specific address to your website such as www.yoursite.com.
Commercial Anchor Text is when a website links to you, using a search keyword that is valuable to rank for, such as – Newport Beach Breast Augmentation, Newport Beach Cosmetic Surgeon, etc.

I am going to be pulling 3 websites from page 1, 3 websites from page 3, and 3 websites from page 5 from a very commercial keyword “Newport Beach Breast Augmentation”. From each set I will be taking the average of the three, to simplify the data. The idea is that we will see a linear trend in our data points that will clue us in to what Google is actively rewarding and penalizing right now in the search results.

Tools Used:
ahrefs (link new window https://ahrefs.com/ ) was used to pull the total backlinks, and the anchor text which was manually tallied to find the branded and generic vs commercial ratios.

The sites I pulled for this case study are from this Google Search( link new window https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=Newport%20beach%20breast%20augmentation ), and are local practitioner’s websites.

Data retrieved:

[[{“fid”:”1416″,”view_mode”:”default”,”fields”:{“format”:”default”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:””,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:””},”type”:”media”,”link_text”:null,”attributes”:{“height”:”191″,”width”:”639″,”class”:”media-element file-default”}}]]

[[{“fid”:”1417″,”view_mode”:”default”,”fields”:{“format”:”default”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:””,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:””},”type”:”media”,”link_text”:null,”attributes”:{“height”:”250″,”width”:”434″,”class”:”media-element file-default”}}]]

Of the sites ranked on page 1, 85% of their total links were based on branded and generic anchors. Sites on page 2 totaled 34%, and sites on page 5 totaled 25%.

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