The ratio of anchor texts is considered by many SEOs to be essential for ranking in Google. But is this ratio really something to worry about and pay attention to? How decisive is it really for the major search engine?

There are a lot of claims on the World Wide Web about anchor texts and what the best ratio is if you want to achieve a high ranking in the Google search engine. Among the claims, there are many SEOs who have examined millions of search results for this. It turned out that the ratios of anchor texts of the websites with top rankings are roughly the same. For SEOs and many others, this is clear evidence of a ranking factor. The anchor texts with the ideal ratio should be the key to a better ranking and avoid possible penalties.

We have taken a closer look at this claim and would like to explain in this article what conclusion we have come to and what is behind this ratio for a top ranking.

That means we explain to you:

  • What are anchor texts?
  • The background of anchor texts and Google
  • The popularity of anchor texts
  • How Google handles links
  • Whether Google actually uses anchor text ratios

Anchor texts

An anchor text in the narrower sense is the text of a backlink or a link in general. It will be displayed, often in blue and underlined, and you can then click on it to be redirected to the relevant page.

This backlink or link therefore anchors these two pages together. This is ultimately where the name comes from. This can be a link between two internal pages on your own website or – in the case of a backlink – a link between two pages on different websites.

However, this does not just have to be a link between two pages; anchor texts can also be for downloading programs or PDFs, for example. Caution is therefore always advised here.

The names of these anchor texts are mostly classic variants such as: “Click here”. However, it can just as well be an anchor text such as “SEO Leverkusen” or similar. This formulation also creates the small but subtle difference.

The anchor text in the scheme “Click here”, for example, is ignored by Google for ranking purposes. However, if the anchor text is “SEO Leverkusen”, the page that is linked to via the anchor text may start to rank for the keyword “SEO Leverkusen”. Google uses this form of anchor text for ranking purposes.

Anchor text backlinks

Background to the use of anchor texts by Google

The founders of Google, Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page, wrote a research paper in 1988 which set out the innovative idea behind Google’s PageRank approach and described it in detail.

The research paper has been published under the name “The Anatomy of a Lage-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine”.

It explains the exact purposes and explains the logic of using anchor texts for ranking:

“The text of links is treated in a special way in our search engine. Most search engines associate the text of a link with a page on which the link is located. We also associate it with the page to which the link points.”

In another part of the research paper, the authors explain in more detail how Google will mitigate the effect of keywords. In this respect, it is assumed that Google wanted to mitigate the overuse of keywords, which could result if a keyword has too much impact (see keyword stuffing). They also justify this accordingly by saying that it will prevent one ranking factor from having too much influence compared to the others.

In the following quote, Google founders Brin and Page use the words “hits” and “hits” respectively. This refers to a keyword that is found on a website.

According to Google’s research paper:

“… we consider hits from anchor text and the PageRank of the document. Combining all this information into a rank is difficult. We have designed our ranking function so that no one factor can have too much influence.

Let’s look at the simplest case first – a query with just one word. To rank a document with a one-word query, Google first looks at the document’s hit list for that word. Google considers each hit as one of several different types (title, anchor, URL, plain text large font, plain text small font, …), each of which has its own type weighting. The weights form a vector that is indexed by type.

Google counts the number of hits of each type in the hit list. Each count is then converted into a count weighting. The counting weights initially increase linearly with the number of hits, but quickly decrease so that more than a certain number no longer helps.”

This research paper shows that there is a type of ratio that Google can use to limit the effect of this ranking signal. As already mentioned, this purpose probably has the origin of preventing the most popular ranking trick: Keyword stuffing.

Some may argue that this cap has contributed to the emergence of anchor text ratios, but this is not the case.

In our opinion, the concept of anchor texts and their ratios has not been discussed actively enough in the SEO community. It wasn’t until 2005 that the conversation around this topic began, when Google announced that it was using statistical analysis to identify unnatural linking patterns.

SEO anchor texts

The popularity of anchor text ratios

It happened around 2005, when anchor texts and their ratios gained popularity. This was based on Google ‘s announcement at PubCon in New Orleans that they are using statistical analysis to identify unnatural link patterns.

The idea that statistical analyses should identify unnatural linking patterns frightened the SEO community. From then on, they had to change their tactics and adapt so that their links looked as natural as possible for Google. This form of analysis is the origin of the expression: “normal-looking links”.

Everyone wanted to avoid being prosecuted by the statistical analysis for unnatural linking patterns. So it was particularly important to look natural. This was achieved by mimicking the linking patterns of websites that were not involved in spam.

The announcement in 2005 is therefore probably the origin of the use of anchor text ratios to appear “natural”.

How Google handles links

Of course, Google search engines have changed over the years and are no longer the same as they were in 2005.

One example is the use of AI, which Google started in 2020. This AI is designed to work at the indexing level and recognize when websites are spam. This means that these pages cannot be included in the index. This means that all links on the spam pages have no chance of falsely influencing the ranking. This anti-spam AI intercepts spam in various places for Google and was still completely unthinkable in 2005, if at all, a gimmick.

The so-called Penguin algorithm has specialized in identifying unnatural links in real time as soon as they are discovered. So far, no one on the outside knows what is behind this Penguin algorithm. Perhaps he uses these statistical analyses, perhaps he operates according to a different system.

What is known, however, is the cycle of development. When new technologies are ready for use, the old ones are rarely needed, which is why they are “retired”, so to speak, to put it quite figuratively. The PageRank algorithm, for example, was discontinued by Google in 2006 and replaced by a new version.

This is conceivable with all technical developments.

Anchor text ratios

Does Google still use anchor text ratios?

Anchor text ratios became popular in 2005 and that was a long time ago. The search engines have all evolved, with Google leading the way.

It is unclear whether anchor text ratios can cause a website to be flagged for manual review. It’s definitely a possibility, though not officially confirmed by Google, but for one serious reason, there should be no cause for concern.

If your links are 100% natural and not the result of unnatural link activity, then there is nothing for which you may be penalized or lose ranking.

Perhaps the most pertinent observation one could make about anchor text ratios today is that anyone who worries about anchor text ratios is building links as if it were 2005 and is unaware of today’s link-related Algorithms and AI spam-fighting tools used by modern search engines to detect and remove unnatural links.

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