Anchor Text Analysis: Post “Penguin” and EMD

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Anchor Text Analysis: Post “Penguin” and EMD

We all know by now that over-optimized anchor text was a huge factor for sites that were dinged by the Google Penguin update. We’ve seen a case study of what is natural when it comes to anchor text back in May with websites in the boating industry. But now that Penguin has had some time to settle in, let’s see what sites are still ranking at the top of the first page of search results in seven highly competitive industries and how their anchor text stacks up in the natural versus over-optimized department, plus additional details about their domain authority and link building strategy.

For this experiment, please note we used Google.com, Safari not logged in to a Google account, location set to Maine (to bypass lots of local search results), and a fully cleared cache. We also skipped Wikipedia and similar sites to focus on those that probably did some heavy lifting in the link building department to get to the first page. Data provided by SEMrush and CognitiveSEO.

Online College

First, let’s look at the education industry, particularly online colleges. The keyword online college is extremely competitive with an estimated CPC of $55.48 and approximately 1,810,000,000 search results.

OnlineCollege.org (ranked #1)

  • 8,830 total backlinks for the domain
  • 68/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 6,244 links analyzed from 1,774 referring domains
  • 24% exact match anchor text for online college
  • 86% dofollow backlinks
  • 97% text links
  • 96% deep backlinks
  • 74% links on .com TLD, 5% links on .org TLD

Devry.edu (ranked #2)

  • 31,000 total backlinks for the domain
  • 84/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 7,555 links analyzed from 2,940 referring domains
  • 0% exact match anchor text for online college
  • 91% dofollow backlinks
  • 84% text links
  • 95% deep backlinks
  • 68% links on .com TLD, 4% links on .edu TLD

Strayer.edu (ranked #3)

  • 17,000 total backlinks for the domain
  • 71/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 5,851 links analyzed from 2,576 referring domains
  • 1% exact match anchor text for online college
  • 91% dofollow backlinks
  • 92% text links
  • 95% deep backlinks
  • 72% links on .com TLD, 4% links on .edu TLD

Women’s Clothing

Next on the list is the fashion industry. The keyword women’s clothing is competitive with an estimated CPC of $1.47 and approximately 75,300,000 search results.

Kohls.com/kohlsStore/womens.jsp (ranked #1)

  • 209,000 total backlinks for this page only
  • 80/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 642 links analyzed from 177 referring domains
  • 1% exact match anchor text for women’s clothing
  • 46% dofollow backlinks
  • 61% text links
  • 96% deep backlinks
  • 76% links on .com TLD

Overstock.com/Clothing-Shoes/Womens-Clothing/213/dept.html (ranked #2)

  • 2,725 total backlinks for this page only
  • 88/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 236 links analyzed from 78 referring domains
  • 19% exact match anchor text for women’s clothing
  • 77% dofollow backlinks
  • 82% text links
  • 96% deep backlinks
  • 89% links on .com TLD

ColdwaterCreek.com (ranked #3)

  • 130,000 total backlinks for the domain
  • 68/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 7,246 links analyzed from 2,481 referring domains
  • Less than 1% exact match anchor text for women’s clothing
  • 87% dofollow backlinks
  • 89% text links
  • 97% deep backlinks
  • 84% links on .com TLD

Real Estate

The real estate industry varies in competition when you look at local factors, but in this case we’re just looking at it on a national level. The keyword real estate is competitive with an estimated CPC of $0.96 and approximately 1,920,000,000 search results.

Realtor.com (ranked #1)

  • 1.6 million total backlinks for the domain
  • 93/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 6,513 links analyzed from 3,123 referring domains
  • 1% exact match anchor text for real estate
  • 95% dofollow backlinks
  • 74% text links
  • 74% deep backlinks
  • 86% links on .com TLD

RealEstate.com (ranked #2)

  • 132,000 total backlinks for the domain
  • 84/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 4,224 links analyzed from 2,099 referring domains
  • 12% exact match anchor text for real estate
  • 91% dofollow backlinks
  • 82% text links
  • 71% deep backlinks
  • 82% links on .com TLD

Zillow.com (ranked #3)

  • 3.4 million total backlinks for the domain
  • 95/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 8,282 links analyzed from 2,802 referring domains
  • 3% exact match anchor text for real estate
  • 97% dofollow backlinks
  • 45% text links
  • 86% deep backlinks
  • 78% links on .com TLD

Mortgage

Closely related to the real estate industry is mortgage loans. The keyword mortgage is competitive with an estimated CPC of $4.34 and approximately 667,000,000 search results.

Bankrate.com/mortgage.aspx (ranked #1)

  • 23,000 total backlinks for this page only
  • 3,130 links analyzed from 1,169 referring domains
  • 1,169 referring domains
  • 96/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 25% exact match anchor text for mortgage
  • 70% dofollow backlinks
  • 97% text links
  • 94% deep backlinks
  • 75% links on .com TLD

Zillow.com/mortgage-rates/ (ranked #3 after Wikipedia)

  • 3 million total backlinks for this page only
  • 5,062 links analyzed from 1,387 referring domains
  • 95/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 1% exact match anchor text for mortgage
  • 91% dofollow backlinks
  • 97% text links
  • 83% deep backlinks
  • 91% links on .com TLD

MortgageCalculator.com (ranked #4)

  • 84,000 total backlinks for the domain
  • 7,090 links analyzed from 2,285 referring domains
  • 72/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 1% exact match anchor text for mortgage
  • 95% dofollow backlinks
  • 60% text links
  • 88% deep backlinks
  • 85% links on .com TLD

Payday Loans

Last month, we dissected the payday loan industry’s anchor text for websites ranking  in the U.K. Now we’ll look at some sites ranking in the U.S. The keyword payday loan is competitive with an estimated CPC of $16.51 and approximately 78,200,000 search results.

PayDayOne.com (ranked #3 after Wikipedia and YouTube)

  • 27,000 total backlinks for the domain
  • 66/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 10,000 links analyzed from 2,584 domains
  • 12% exact match anchor text for payday loans
  • 86% dofollow backlinks
  • 99% text links
  • 94% deep backlinks
  • 48% links on .com TLD, 15% on .org TLD

CashFairy.com (ranked #4)

  • 137 total backlinks for the domain
  • 26/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 137 links analyzed from 32 referring domains
  • Less than 1% exact match anchor text for payday loans
  • 94% dofollow backlinks
  • 71% text links
  • 90% deep backlinks
  • 77% links on .com TLD

1min-PayDayLoan.com (ranked #5)

  • 8,901 total backlinks for the domain
  • 49/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 8,528 links analyzed from 6,563 domains
  • 30% exact match anchor text for payday loans
  • 100% dofollow backlinks
  • 100% text links
  • 69% deep backlinks
  • 52% links on .ru TLD, 24% on .com TLD

Life Insurance

While there are lots of different types insurance, we decided to focus on life insurance for the insurance industry. The keyword life insurance is competitive with an estimated CPC of $36.32 and approximately 533,000,000 search results.

Metlife.com/individual/insurance/life-insurance/index.html (ranked #2 after Wikipedia)

  • 2,089 total backlinks for this page only
  • 88/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 821 links analyzed from 257 referring domains
  • Less than 1% exact match anchor text for life insurance
  • 70% dofollow backlinks
  • 84% text links
  • 96% deep backlinks
  • 81% links on .com TLD

Geico.com/getaquote/life/ (ranked #4 after a .gov site)

  • 2,042 total backlinks for this page only
  • 86/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 660 links analyzed from 235 referring domains
  • 3% exact match anchor text for life insurance
  • 56% dofollow backlinks
  • 72% text links
  • 98% deep backlinks
  • 78% links on .com TLD

Farmers.com/life_insurance.html (ranked #5)

  • 8,419 total backlinks for this page only
  • 84/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 475 links analyzed from 183 referring domains
  • 23% exact match anchor text for life insurance
  • 82% dofollow backlinks
  • 93% text links
  • 95% deep backlinks
  • 82% links on .com TLD

DUI Lawyer

Last, but not least, we’re going to take a look at the legal industry. The keyword DUI lawyer is competitive with an estimated CPC of $41.45 and approximately 6,430,000 search results.

DUI-Lawyer.com (ranked #1)

  • 438 total backlinks for the domain
  • 37/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 438 links analyzed from 162 referring domains
  • Less than 1% exact match anchor text for dui lawyer
  • 86% dofollow backlinks
  • 93% text links
  • 90% deep backlinks
  • 74% links on .com TLD

Avvo.com/topics/166-dui (ranked #2)

  • 214 total backlinks for this page only
  • 85/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 17 links analyzed from 8 referring domains
  • Less than 1% exact match anchor text for dui lawyer
  • 100% dofollow backlinks
  • 100% text links
  • 100% deep backlinks
  • 94% links on .com TLD

TopGunDUI.com (ranked #3)

  • 4,897 total backlinks for the domain
  • 42/100 SEOmoz domain authority
  • 733 links analyzed from 254 referring domains
  • Less than 1% exact match anchor text for dui lawyer
  • 84% dofollow backlinks
  • 83% text links
  • 95% deep backlinks
  • 89% links on .com TLD

Major Takeaways

So, what can we take away from the link building analysis of different industries and websites ranking at the top of the first page? Here are just a few things:

  • Having a strong authority will help you rank for your keywords regardless of how often you use them as anchor text.
  • Don’t want to tip off Google by using the exact keyword phrase you want to rank for in your anchor text? Mix it in with your brand name or other long-tail keywords. Also target single and plural forms as needed.
  • Make sure your brand / business name gets a good majority of your anchor text.
  • Exact match domains are still OK if the content on them is quality.
  • Some industries and related keywords can be completely unpredictable when it comes to the number of links needed to rank at the top of search results. The sites with less than 1,000 backlinks for payday loans and DUI lawyer, for example, were not even ranking well because of local search considering none of them were located in or near Maine.

What do you think of this analysis? What other takeaways did you gain from it? Please share in the comments!

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Razvan Gavrilas
Razvan is the Founder and Chief Architect of cognitiveSEO, an SEO Toolset focused on in-depth analysis of ranking signals. His passion for search engine marketing... Read Full Bio
Razvan Gavrilas
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