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, the managing director of DEJAN, is Australia’s best-known name in the field of search engine optimisation. Dan is a web author, innovator and a highly regarded search industry event speaker.

1 Points

11 thoughts on “Anchor Text Proximity Experiment”

  1. Mike Bayes says:

    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.

  2. Zineb Ait Bahajji says:

    Waw ! Wasn’t expecting that Image links work that well… How long did the experiment last ?

  3. Dejan SEO says:

    Several months.

  4. Jason Mun says:

    This debunks the myth that infographic links are loving value.

  5. Jason Mun says:


  6. Anna says:

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

  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.

  8. Nick Ker says:

    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.

  9. Justin says:

    Can you tell us about linking pages appearing in the serps, to which numbers they are linking to?

  10. Justin says:

    Btw, interesting experiment and surprising results, thank you 🙂

  11. Kane Jamison says:

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