Anchor Text OptimizationE-Commerce Link BuildingLink Building Anchor Text Optimization for Commercial Pages

March 3, 2021by Colin Gacek

Although Google’s algorithms constantly change, anchor text still plays an important role in SEO and link building. Anchor text informs Google about the context of a piece of content, and it tells readers what to expect when they click a link.

As Google’s link algorithms are more sophisticated than at any other time. Natural-sounding, relevant anchor text are consequently of greater importance.

The approach of natural sounding anchor text is more than a best-practice for SEO; it also ensures a good user experience for readers.

Crafting natural anchor text for commercial pages can be a bit challenging. They are different from links that lead to how-to guides or topical blogs.

A good approach is to think about links to commercial pages in terms of how they’re useful to readers. Links to commercial pages are useful because they give readers an opportunity to make a purchase or to research a product.

Anchor text should convey this information so the reader interested in shopping, research or comparisons is satisfied when they reach the commercial web page. 

This guide shows how to write commercial anchor text links that feel natural to the reader, makes sense within the article’s context, and may help boost your search engine rankings.

What is a Commercial Page?

A commercial page is any page that aims to make a sale by informing the reader about a product or service.

E-commerce pages are just one type of commercial page. They often contain lists of items available for purchase, images of the products, comparisons, customer reviews and an “add to cart” option.

There are other kinds of commercial pages, too. Pages that ask users to register for a service, make reservations, or buy digital items like software are all examples of commercial pages.

Why Commercial Pages Need Links 

Commercial pages need links for the same reasons any other page needs them: to boost their search engine rankings.

Backlinks helps a commercial page gather leads and push prospects further along toward a sale.

The ultimate goal for links to a commercial page isn’t the link itself or even search rankings: the ultimate goal is always to increase sales.

Links to commercial sites can promote a brand in general and indirectly contribute to sales by building trust.

But links to commercial pages promoting specific products or services are what ultimately help those pages rank and grow sales.

That makes backlinks a useful tool for sales-focused marketing campaigns.

Commercial Page Anchor Texts: What Not to Do

Obtaining links can be difficult, causing e-commerce marketers to lower the threshold on what is an acceptable link.

One act of desperation is to stretch the “semantic” connection between the content of a web page content and a commercial page that is linked to.

For example, a web page about wild horses is not relevant for a Ford Mustang dealership. Thus, linking to a car dealer with the anchor text “Mustang” does not make that a relevant link.

Stretched semantic relevance is something even a disengaged reader can spot.

As a general rule, the reader should never be surprised by what they find when they click a commercial page backlink.

The anchor text and surrounding ideas should provide enough contextual clues that the reader can guess where the link leads.

Readers should click with the intention of visiting a commercial page where they can learn more about a product they might want to purchase.

It’s useful to discover common mistakes that ruin the integrity of a commercial backlink anchor text.

Here are a few types of unnatural anchor text to avoid:

  • Pushing Irrelevant Products

Don’t stick links where they don’t belong. If your anchor text keyword is “memory foam pillows,” don’t place it in an article about selecting curtains.

  • Local/Geo-Specific Anchor Text in a General Article

While locally-optimized keywords have their place, avoid specific cities or regions in anchor text unless it makes sense for the entire article.

For example, if your keyword is “bagel shop in Knoxville,” don’t just mention Knoxville in a generic article about bagels. Instead, ensure that the whole article or the paragraph is relevant to the city, bagels and the web page being linked to.

“SEO Optimized” Anchor Text

A common mistake is to require the same optimized anchor text from article to article.  There is arguably no larger indication of an attempt to influence search engines than requiring the same “SEO optimized” anchor text from site to site, article to article, link to link.

As mentioned earlier, what works best is what is best for the user within the context of where the link is appearing.

Instead of “SEO optimized” links a better approach is “user optimized” links.

How to Create Natural Anchor Text: Levels of Contextual Relevance

In order to create a natural commercial link, it must be relevant to the content on four levels:

  1. Article Level: Does the product or service make sense in the article?
  2. Section Level: Does the product make sense in the subsection of the article?
  3. Paragraph Level: Would the reader consider buying something when reading the paragraph, or would they just want more information?
  4. Click Level: Would the reader be surprised if they clicked on the anchor text, or would their expectations be satisfied when they are directed to a commercial page?

Best Types of Content for Commercial Links:

These types of content are most conducive to commercial link placement at the article level.  

    • Resource Pages: See if you can place your commercial backlink on a guide listing several helpful resources or shopping opportunities (like your online store!).
    • Listicles: This common post quickly explores different products or brands in a list format. Remember to avoid linking to competitors!
  • Features: Any commercial link will fit naturally in a spotlight article specifically about the product or brand.
  • Product Reviews: These lists compare the features of several related products to help shoppers make decisions.
  • Applications Pieces: Applications blogs and case studies explore a specific use or application for a product, creating the perfect opportunity for a commercial backlink.

Industry Insights: E-commerce links can also fit in articles that highlight products at an industry level, not a consumer level. These articles connect products to their industry and may include an explanation of why that particular item or service outranks others.

Natural Anchor Text Approaches

These strategies can help you write and place backlinks more naturally at the section and paragraph level.

  • The Competitor List Approach

Yes, it sounds crazy. But mentioning competitors in the right context (like a comparison) can make the article (and your anchor text) seem trustworthy. It also gives your reader more options to consider.

To avoid giving your competitors a backlink and free SEO benefits, link to a general article that mentions their brand instead, such as a product guide or brand comparison.

  • The “Reason to Link” Approach

Rather than listing competitors, you can explain why a product or service is the best in the industry, which implies that it’s the only product worth mentioning. Your anchor text can also convey the superiority of the linked item, such as “best dryer for thin hair.” With this approach, it’s a good idea to also link to an article that confirms your product is superior.

Of course, be mindful of the caveat of requiring the same anchor text on multiple sites. Multiple similar anchor text can give the appearance of being unnatural. The best approach is to let the publisher decide or let the context decide.

For example, in an article about keeping your cat healthy, you can link to a specific brand of weight loss food for obese cats. Mention why your brand of cat food is the best option, and include an outside source or veterinarian endorsement to support your claim.

  • The Multi-Resource Approach

You can also mention three or more resources that are not your direct competitors but offer parallel products or services. For example, in an article about choosing GPS tracking software, you could highlight brands that target different markets, such as GPS software for local police fleets versus GPS software for cross-country truck drivers.

  • The Full Focus Approach

To keep things simple, you could draft an entire article dedicated to the product in question. Discuss the product, it’s features, various applications, or industry-specific applications. For example, in an article about bed sheet types, you could write “ try silk bed sheets and pillowcases if you overheat easily or have sensitive skin,” and then link to your silk bedding selection.

  • The Benefit-Specific Approach

Is your product unique in your niche? Try highlighting the unusual perks and characteristics that set it apart. In the article, discuss how your item is the only one that caters to a specific problem or subset of your industry. For example, if your industrial refrigerator is the most energy-efficient on the market, highlight that specialty in your post and anchor text.

Writing Commercial Anchor Text: Advanced Strategies

When optimizing commercial backlinks at the anchor text level, consider which type of anchor text makes the most sense for your article. Generally, anchor text falls into one of four categories:

  • Branded

Branded anchor text includes the product or company name, and it commonly appears in listicles or product comparison articles. Sometimes, branded anchor text is combined with the company name and product such as “Tom’s of Maine Fluoride-Free Toothpaste.”

  • Topically Relevant

Rather than emphasizing a brand, this type of anchor text focuses on a topic. Topic-specific anchor text is used across all kinds of articles, especially how-to articles, and are selected after careful keyword research.  Subtypes include:

    • Broad anchor text, which focuses more on a general topic than a specific product. This type should be used with caution when linking to commercial pages, as it may not be specific enough to clue the reader that it leads to specific products. An example might be bedroom furnishings for a page that sells mattresses.
    • Phrase-based anchor text, which may contain the relevant keyword in a phrase or be a long-tail keyword itself. An example might be affordable comfortable mattresses.
  • Exact-match anchor text, which should mirror what a person would type in a search engine. For the purposes of commercial link building, this might be an anchor text like, queen-size mattress.
  • Raw URLs. Rather than placing a hyperlink over a brand name or keyword, sometimes it’s best to paste the web address into the body text as a link. This anchor text method is most common in lists of cited sources. For commercial link building, raw URLs could be useful when you need to reference specific statistics or data from a product page. That said, a raw URL can be used in most any scenario and is good for users because it tells them exactly where they’re going after the click.
  • Descriptive Call to Action (CTA). Calls to action encourage the reader to do something. Common CTAs include “read more” or “click here,” but those are not descriptive and leave out important information.  Descriptive CTAs create a better user experience and set the proper expectations. Call to action anchor text like “shop kayaks” or “compare kayaks” are examples of descriptive CTAs.

Four Steps for Selecting the Optimal Anchor Text

With a little help from SEO tools like AWR Cloud, you can find and select the best anchor text for your niche. Follow these steps to write natural commercial anchor text every time.

  1. Identify keywords and rankings.
  2. List and categorize top pages.
  3. Get all anchor text for top pages.
  4. Aggregate and categorize anchors.
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