Keywords are essential as they lie at the heart of search engine optimization practices.
So far, in 2021, Google has received 360 billion searches (and counting). With thousands of searches every day, it is paramount that marketers utilize SEO strategies. Perhaps this is why 61% of marketers say improving SEO practices is their top inbound marketing priority.
Knowing what exactly people are searching for permits you to tailor your content accordingly. It also ensures that search engines like Google rank your page higher in search results.
After all, who will visit your website if no one knows it exists?
To rank higher and create brand awareness, companies employ keywords that searchers are most likely to use on Google. However, using the same keyword repeatedly in your content can make it redundant and backfire massively because it compromises the user experience. That is why brands are always searching for different types and variations of keywords to use in their content.
Let’s look at one specific type of keyword that companies often try to rank for: branded keywords.
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What Are Branded Keywords?
A branded keyword is a search query that includes a website’s brand name or any of its brand name variations. The variation could exist in many ways depending on what words search queries add along with the brand name. Few examples of these words are: “pricing”, “reviews,” or “blog”.
Branded keywords are important because people use them when searching for your brand. Since such users are already looking for you, these keywords have a high potential of driving conversions on your website. In fact, branded keywords drive 66.1% conversions on your website, compared to only 33.9% by non-branded keywords.
Despite resulting in a strong conversion rate, branded keywords remain a relatively unexplored area. As a result, SEO specialists spend more time optimizing non-branded keywords; they optimize 63.9% of non-branded keywords. Compare that with branded keywords, of which they only optimize 36.1%.
Identifying Branded Keywords
Apart from your prominent brand name, Google your company to search for variations of the branded keywords.
See what kind of words Google’s autocomplete and autosuggest are associating with your brand. These words highlight what people generally identify with your products and eventually search for.
Checking out related searches after running your brand search is another effective method to find out what words Google is relating to your brand.
Knowing all this will provide you with a comprehensive list of your branded keywords, which you can use on your website and in your other content. So, when people search for these branded keywords again, your pages will likely rank higher in the search results.
To discover and understand your branded keywords, use software like Google Analytics to analyze the search queries you gathered. A straightforward way is to run keyword research on SEO tools like Ahrefs and Semrush to identify all your branded keywords that you can then optimize.
Before we jump onto optimization of branded keywords, let’s start with the basics.
What Is Anchor Text?
We all know links are important because search engines use them to determine rankings. In addition, sources often link to one another; if a source links to your website, that’s beneficial for you.
Links placed in content often accompany written text. Anchor text is simply the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. It is usually blue and underlined.
You can, however, change your website’s link colors and styles through HTML or CSS. Just make sure they stand out from the rest of your text body so readers know they are clickable hyperlinks.
What would drive your readers to want to click the link you have placed in your text? Your anchor text. It briefly describes what the link entails and how clicking on it would provide value to your audience.
Why Does Anchor Text Matter?
Google uses anchor text to determine what the linked page is all about and how people view that page. So, if someone links your website on their page, the anchor text they use will help Google determine what your page contains and how people respond to it.
However, you have limited control over how external sources link your website or what anchor text they use. On your site, though, you have complete agency to optimize anchor text, especially one that links your content internally.
It will help you in many ways: it will allow users to find the needed pages of the website, and it will enable search engine bots to index pages.
How Do You Write A Good Anchor Text?
The whole point of anchor text is to entice the user to take the action you want them to take: click on the hyperlink.
For this reason, relevancy is vital.
Link relevancy is one of the metrics used by search engines to determine rankings in search results. You shouldn’t just link to a page for the sake of linking. The page you’re linking should be relevant to your topic. For example, if you’re discussing a pizza recipe and linking to a page that talks about different pizza toppings, it is a relevant link. But let’s say you link to a page about running shoes; that won’t make sense.
But how will search engines know that your link is relevant? They will use your anchor text to make sense of how appropriate your link is. Moreover, if you use your anchor text to acutely describe to your audience the value of clicking the link, they are more likely to do just that.
Ultimately, keeping your anchor text relevant, concise and descriptive is essential. It is where you can make use of the keywords we talked about earlier.
Making Use Of Keywords In Anchor Text
The easiest way to optimize anchor text for SEO is to use desirable, target keywords. Whatever keywords you’re trying to rank for, use them in your anchor text.
Since Google’s algorithms use your anchor text to understand what your link is about, try not to stuff keywords unnecessarily. Instead, your target keywords should naturally fit your anchor text and aid the user in clicking your link.
Google notices which words you’re using for your links and how often you use them. If you consistently use the same anchor text, Google might assume you’re trying to manipulate the system via spamming and penalize you.
It is where we can make use of different types of anchor texts and utilize what branded keywords have to offer.
Types of Anchor Text
Let’s quickly review five different types of anchor texts:
If you use a keyword that precisely refers to the page you’re linking to, then your anchor text is an exact match. For example, your anchor text states “SEO strategies”. If clicking on it will lead the reader to a page about SEO strategies, it is an exact match anchor text.
A partial match is the anchor text that includes a keyword variation of the page you’re linking. Take the previous example: “SEO Strategies in 2021” is a partial match anchor text.
Branded anchor text employs branded keywords. As discussed above, your branded keyword is your brand name or a variation of your brand name. If you include that in your anchor text, then you’re left with branded anchor text.
Such anchor texts are favorable for building brand recognition. Furthermore, if you have public figures associated with your brand, Google may recognize all links with their name as branded anchors too.
This type of anchor text uses random words, such as “stores” or even generic words like “visit” or “click here”.
When anchor text uses complete URLs instead of ascribing certain words to a hyperlink, it is a naked anchor text. An entire URL has a protocol (www, https, ftp) and a domain name (ahrefs.com), so placing both as a link means it’s a naked anchor.
The majority of brands may pay attention to the pages they link. They often ensure relevancy is maintained and there is good internal linking on their website. However, the same attention is frequently not spared for anchor text. That is a problem.
If you’re trying to optimize the benefits of linking to other sources or even building your backlinks (other sources linking to your page), make sure to optimize anchor text as well. The best way to do this is to apply an even spread of your keywords in your anchor text.
Avoid naked anchors; just placing a URL won’t make users click on it, neither will it indicate to Google what your content entails. Many people use random or generic keywords, which isn’t as beneficial of a tactic either. Instead, use exact match anchors and partial match anchors. But as mentioned earlier, don’t overdo it.
Yes, over-optimizing your website (especially when it comes to anchor text and link building) is definitely a real thing.
Make use of your branded keywords. They are also reliable keywords, and albeit they may not bring as much traffic to your website as non-branded keywords, they fit well in the mix you’re trying to create. At the end of the day, they are also your keywords, and they assist you in your search engine optimization efforts.
Optimizing Branded Keywords
Now that we know what branded keywords are and how we place them in the anchor text, let’s look at three ways you can optimize them:
Optimize Your Website To Include Your Brand
Make sure your brand name – and its variations – are displayed various times on your website.
Your domain already includes your brand verbatim. Attempt to end all your page titles with your brand name. Your homepage shouldn’t be the only one that contains your brand keywords; include them in as many of your pages as possible.
You can also ensure that your brand name is in the header showing on all your pages. One effective way of doing this is to have your logo as your header. Images have alt text, which is what search engines read to determine what constitutes the visual. So incorporate your brand name in the alt text of your logo.
Create Content Around Your Brand
The content you create can also include your brand name. However, be careful not to use the same branded keywords excessively as Google can spot behavior that hinges on spamming.
High-quality content is one of the most important signals used by Google to rank your website.
Create blog posts, articles, case studies, and even a reviews section. Try making a FAQ page where you answer frequent queries your readers/customers have and include your branded keywords; it’s a win-win.
Engage in guest blogging. Look for websites or even freelancers looking for guest bloggers. You can use the opportunity to place your branded keywords in the guest blogs you write.
Branded Anchor Text
As discussed earlier, you can use your branded keywords as part of your anchor text, forming your branded anchor text.
Using branded anchors is a convenient way to let Google know which keywords to associate with your brand. Your brand is thus likely to also rank higher for these keywords.
Working backlinks in your strategy may also be an efficient method to optimize your branded keywords. Focus on using branded keywords in your anchor text and try that external sources also utilize them in the anchor text they link to your website.
High-quality brand mentions and backlinks help to build brand exposure. And it’s not complicated. As Mara Calvello highlights: if you’re getting invited to interviews, even that can be your branded anchor text.
Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to yours.
SEO link building does not solely rely on the links you use – or the ones that external sources use to direct people to your website.
Sure, links are vital because search engines like Google pay significant attention to the number and quality of inbound links to a webpage.
Truthfully, 91% of all pages never get organic traffic from Google, mainly because they don’t have backlinks.
But what you must understand is that SEO is a vast field – the more SEO ranking factors you use collectively, the better.
In this case, paying attention to anchor text instead of only using links is required.
Additionally, using keywords that many brands fail to incorporate in their strategy, i.e., branded keywords, can even help you gain a competitive edge. Employ substantial effort to optimize your branded keywords. More than that: use them in your anchor text. Tell Google what your brand is about and let it rank you higher in search results.
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