Website Optimization Blog

Defining the 5 Types of Links & Optimal Distribution for SEO

There’s a lot of commotion with respect to backlinks and how to perform link building properly after Google’s Penguin update. The matter of question centers on the anchor text of links: “what ratio of optimized, semi-optimized, and natural links should I be using?”

In this post, I will define the five primary types of links, as well as the optimal distribution of using each type of link for SEO. This information is based on a wealth of research, testing, and outreach to several other SEO professionals, and it reflects today’s best practices of SEO.

The 5 Types of Links

Below I define the five types of links, along with examples on what they might look like on a page.

Brand Name Links

Brand name links are pretty straightforward – the anchor text is simply the name of the business or brand.

Brand name links are one of the most natural forms (not keyword optimized for SEO,) so it’s suggested to use these types of links the most often. Ideally, you’ll want your website’s backlink portfolio to have about 40% brand name links.

Naked Links

Also a natural type of link are naked links. Naked links are basically the URL or hypertext of the link without any sort of anchor text.

An example of a naked link would be:

Although naked links are natural, they don’t offer as much SEO value. For this reason, strive to use naked links about 10% of the time.

Target Keyword Links

Target keyword links are also known as optimized links. These types of links will reflect the exact phrase match of the keyword you’ve optimized a page for.

Target keyword links are the bread and butter for your SEO efforts. And although it might be tempting to use this type of link all the time, shoot for about 20% exact phrase match anchor text.


Hybrid links are a variant version of your target keyword links. Many SEO’s refer to this type of link as being “semi-optimized.”

These hybrid types of links definitely help for SEO, especially for those long-tail keyword targets you’re after. Try to use hybrid backlinks about 15% of the time.


Generic links very common in a non-SEO context. They are considered a natural type of link and they come in countless forms, such “click here” or “learn more.”

Like hybrid links, you’ll want use generic links about 15% of the time.

Recap: Optimal Link Distribution

It can be really tempting to use target keyword links and hybrid links all the time. But keep in mind that an over-optimized backlink portfolio can result in your site getting penalized, diminishing all of your SEO efforts.

Be mindful of keeping your SEO link building natural, and strive for optimal link distribution:

  • Brand Name Links – 40%
  • Naked Links – 10%
  • Target Keyword Links – 20%
  • Hybrid Links – 15%
  • Generic Links – 15%

This blog post was written by Tyler Tafelsky, SEO and Internet marketing specialist here at Web Presence Group. You can connect with Tyler on Google+.

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