A Guide To Anchor Text Profiles & Fixing An Over Optimisation Penalty

Difficulty: Beginner
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What is Anchor Text?

Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink like this. This a large part of SEO and contributes heavily to the power of the backlinks you receive. There are multiple types of anchor text:

    • Branded
      The brand name used to link for example “see more about Matter Solutions the SEO experts here”.
    • Generic
      Linking using any generic text for example “see more about Matter Solutions the SEO experts here”
    • URL Link
      Using a URL as the anchor for example “see Matter Solutions here: https://www.mattersolutions.com.au/”
    • Exact Match
      This is using the exact match of the keyword focus for example if you were linking to the Matter Solutions SEO page as an example “see more about Matter Solutions the SEO experts here”.
    • Partial Match
      This is using a partial match of the keyword focus, usually including the keyword with another word/set of words. For example “see more about Matter Solutions the SEO experts here”
    • Image
      Simply linking out using an image, this will show up as no text on most backlink checking tools.

What Is An Anchor Text Profile?

This is a summary of all of your backlinks and what anchor text people are using to link to your website. This is often where you can see if your website is at risk of an over-optimisation penalty. Many SEO agencies are careless with link building and will land you with a penalty or set you up to get a penalty down the track. Below you can see the anchor text profile for www.apple.com.

Anchor Text Ratios

So what exactly is the best ratio of anchor text types you ask. Well the best ratio is to keep it as natural as possible, if you are mimicking what large websites have then there is as low chance you will get an over optimisation penalty. The best ratio we have found is as follows:

  • Branded Anchor Text: 70%
  • URL Links: 15%
  • Generic Anchor Text: 10%
  • Partial Match Anchor Text: 4-5%
  • Exact Match Anchor Text: Less than 1%

We often have potential clients come to us for a review and have had past SEO work done, they can have up to a 70% ratio using exact match anchor text. This means they almost always have some form of ranking suppression/penalty for over-optimisation. What’s great about this is if you can identify there is an issue it is quite easy to action and fix.


How To Fix Over Optimised Anchor Text

If you think you’ve landed yourself with an over optimised anchor text penalty then fear not! There is hope on the horizon. For starters you’ll need to analyse your anchor text profile to work out what exactly you are dealing with. We suggest tools like Ahrefs, Majestic & SEMRush, unfortunately they are quite expensive but you can get free trials.

When analysing your backlink profile it might be the case that your past SEO agency has targeted one of your biggest keywords. They may have built lots of dodgy links towards it, in this case it would be easiest to disavow. We have seen this happen before, went ahead and disavowed 20-30 domains with the exact match keyword being linked in the same way on each page. Three weeks later the rankings shot up just purely from disavowing these low quality/over optimised links. Disavowing isn’t always the best option though, since these domains might be providing a good amount of power towards your website disavowing them would be a shame. Here is our list of suggestions;

Diluting Anchor Text Profile

If you have a number of links that you think are contributing to an over optimisation penalty then it’s quite possible they are from really quality domains in which case you wouldn’t want to disavow them. One way of dealing with this is to dilute your anchor text profile, so you will need to obtain branded, generic and naked URL links towards that same page. If you refer back to our anchor text ratios from before then that should be your goal. But be careful, this doesn’t mean you can just build a whole bunch of low quality links that are branded, generic and URL links this could make your situation even worse. You’ll need to make sure these are from medium-high quality domains as well.


This is generally the fastest way to get results, but often not the most ideal method. However if you’ve come to the conclusion that diluting your anchor text profile just won’t work then you can do a backlink audit to find the problem domains. You can then submit a disavow with these included, any changes would be seen in 3+ weeks. Be careful to make sure you aren’t disavowing the domains that are helping your website rank, this can be a tricky method and we do not recommend it for people with limited SEO experience.

We wrote a tip about disavowing bad backlinks in Google Search Console


301 Penalty Recovery

This is by far the most complex method and should only be done as a last resort. If you have tried everything to no avail then using this might be your only hope.


One last thing to consider before going down this path; you might not be ranking for the desired keyword/s because you don’t have enough backlinks/your content is not good enough. But if you are certain that it is a suppression or penalty and you have tried all the other available methods then read on. There is one way that we would recommend doing this and it will take quite a bit of time to pull off.

  1. First off you need to get a new domain for your company, this can be similar to your old website or something completely new. It would be best to get it as similar as you can so the branded backlinks from your website will transfer over.
  2. Get links on your new website, mainly branded but also some generic and URL links.
  3. Dilute the anchor text profile of your original domain, you can read more about that in the above section. You need to make sure this is as diluted as you can get it otherwise you will likely just transfer your penalty to the new domain.
  4. Once you are happy with the anchor text profile on both domains redirect your old domain to your new domain.
  5. Monitor and make any adjustments if needed.


This process can get very complex and can take a lot of time + money. This will not always work either, there is a chance you will transfer your penalty to your new website.