Anchor Text Proximity Experiment




I always felt that surrounding text plays a semantic role in Google’s search algorithm, but was never able to ascertain the degree of its influence or whether it has any impact at all. This experiment was designed to test impact of link context on a small scale with a unique search term. Basically I was looking for subtleties.

The Experiment

I registered four domains in the following format:


Each was linked from a separate page on a well-established website, but using different link styles. Same amount of controlled PageRank was passed to each.

Here’s how we linked to each newly registered domain:

001: [exact phrase]

002: Surrounding text followed by the [exact phrase]: http://********

003: Image link with an ALT as [exact phrase]

004: Some surrounding text with [exact phrase] near the link which says click here.

Experiment Results:


Surprisingly ALT text based image link wins with exact match anchor text link being at the bottom of results. Click on the “repeat the search with the omitted results included.” added one linking page to results while the pages linked with “click here” and “http://********” as anchor text did not show up as relevant results for this search query at all.

I am personally disappointed with this outcome and hope that somebody proves me wrong in a follow-up experiment.

What did I learn from this?

Image links are awesome!

Feedback & Comments: Google+

Dan Petrovic is a well-known Australian SEO and a managing director of Dejan SEO. He has published numerous research articles in the field of search engine optimisation and online marketing. Dan's work is highly regarded by the world-wide SEO community and featured on some of the most reputable websites in the industry.

More Posts - Website

Copy the code below to your web site.

11 Responses to “Anchor Text Proximity Experiment”

  1. I was surprised! Thanks for the info. I can see 1000′s of SEO’s accross the globe checking ALT text all day long based on this post.

    • Mike Bayes
  2. Waw ! Wasn’t expecting that Image links work that well… How long did the experiment last ?

    • Zineb Ait Bahajji
  3. Several months.

    • Dejan SEO
  4. This debunks the myth that infographic links are loving value.

    • Jason Mun
  5. *losing

    • Jason Mun
  6. Hi Dan, great post.
    Can you explain details of image linked? Are hosted on same domain? Small size and dimensions?

    • Anna
  7. That’s impossible to “control” how much PageRank is passed by each link as you can only know the Toolbar Pagerank of the linking page… wich is somewhat vague.

    • Lionel Miraton
  8. Nice work.
    Here comes the flood of spammed-out alt text.

    I would have expected the surrounding text to work a little better than it did, but I think that may require several links with similar surrounding text before it would really kick in.

    • Nick Ker
  9. Can you tell us about linking pages appearing in the serps, to which numbers they are linking to?

    • Justin
  10. Btw, interesting experiment and surprising results, thank you :)

    • Justin
  11. Did 002 or 004 show up at any point? Do they show up when you click “repeat the search with the omitted results included”?

    • Kane Jamison

National Sales Number: 1300 123 736 - International Callers: +61 7 3188 9200

© 2015 DEJAN SEO PTY LTD - ABN:77151340420 - ACN:151340420 - Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy by TRUSTe Google Partner