Anchor Text Link Length

Today after much internal discussion and reviewing user complaints, we’ve made the decision to tighten down on anchor text link length abuse.

The EzineArticles editorial guidelines section 2.f.xii. has been updated:

“We do not allow articles which have strategic keyword anchor text links in the body to your domain that do not add informational value to the article. Any use of anchored text links to websites that you own should add value to the article topic rather than stand out as an obvious abuse of anchored text link. The goal with this policy is to be a good net citizen by only allowing articles that add value with the anchored text links rather than for pure SEO reasons. Please limit your anchor text link length to 3 words.

The sentence in blue is the change. Prior to this, there was no anchor text link length guideline.

This is a quality “guideline” and not a hardfast rule. That means we may allow a few more words in the anchor text link length if our editor feels that the quality, originality, and value of the article content warrants the exception.

The end goal with this change is to prevent spammy-looking Resource Boxes. A handful of members had more than half their resource box linked up in anchored text links (yeah, like entire multiple sentences) and that’s abusive in our opinion.


Jan Verhoeff writes:

Isn’t the purpose of anchoring text as a link to make the link searchable?

Why would you want to link more than a word or three? More than that isn’t really condusive to quality search engine linking.

I guess I don’t see the point. But then I really like natural links with the type links to give people a real link even if the publisher doesn’t complete the transaction of publishing the link.

It just saves time.

Comment provided May 21, 2008 at 12:20 AM


Jim writes:

We think 3 words are to few. We would have preferred to see a limit of 4 words. Seldom do we use more than two words but occasionally we have a keyword/anchor text that will require the use of 4 words. According to your new policy this would not be allowed. Penalizing all of us just because a few people are abusing anchor text linking is wrong.

If you use a long tail keyword it will cause search engines to focus the search. Studies have shown that a customer that uses a long tail search are more likely to take some form of action be it making a purchase or clicking on an ad. Long-tail keywords/anchor text helps to focus a search.

We are skeptical that EzineArticle editors will be able to use common sense when an anchor text is exceeds 3 words.

Comment provided May 21, 2008 at 12:21 PM


Stephen writes:

But then I really like natural links with the

What’s this all about?

Is it of any relevence?

Comment provided May 21, 2008 at 12:40 PM


Stephen writes:

“Why would you want to link more than a word or three?”

Jan let me educate you. If you are trying to rank well for the term “The history of America”, having the text link of hisory or America will have no value, hence the need for four words as the text link.

Comment provided May 21, 2008 at 12:46 PM


Jan Verhoeff writes:

Seriously, Stephen, if you’re linking to a four word phrase and it’s something like “The History of America” I can’t imagine EzineArticles nitpicking at the selection of words (or even the number). It would be a strategic choice, and not necessarily a numbers issue. The problem (as I’ve seen it) is with authors who link whole sentences, or extended phrases, disjointed words, and numerous words that have nothing to do with the link under them who are the issue.

A long tail keyword phrase can be the title of your article (which is picked up quickly by the search engines) and the link in the resource box would be accessible as simply a link attached to that keyword phrase. I understand search engine optimization and also the workings of a website such as this, where rules are not made so much out of a desire to control the authors and publishers as they are to protect the site from those who abuse the site.

The original ‘natural links’ included the “http://” prior to the rest of the link “” for a natural and clickable automatic link – as an attempt to explain the design of clickable links and the fact that clickable links make long tail keyword phrase titles work.

As I said before, rules aren’t created so much to control the participating readers (and writers) as they are to prevent the abuse of a site such as this.

Thanks for the Education, Stephen. I look forward to further educational opportunities. ;)

Comment provided May 21, 2008 at 2:59 PM



If the article was beyond ~500 words, was original and not some PLR package rewritten thin content article vomit, we’d let “The History of America” all linked up pass.

Incidentally… There are no coincidences. This new guideline was reactive to Internet Marketers trying to game the system. If folks would stop trying to be hyper efficient with their existing content and invest more time in quality original article writing… we wouldn’t have to step in with a guideline like this.


You are right to be skeptical… In fact, if the content doesn’t blow away just about anyone who eyeballs it, count on 3 words being the max allowed on an anchored text link.

Comment provided May 21, 2008 at 3:10 PM


Stephen writes:

Hi Chris and Jan, thank you for your responses and explanations.

I will be happy to continue your education Jan. First tip, agreeing with everything Chris says is rather boring. He is often in the right but to question is surely the whole point of a blog. I am sure he will not be offended.

This blog has a large readership and could be a leader in its field. I have introduced a lot of writers to the site and many of them feel that the blog is simply where people attempt to spam links and to just basically big Chris up. This is a great shame and a real waste.

Yes the site is the tops but the blog should not be abused in this way.

Just an opinion which unfortunately many people share.

Comment provided May 21, 2008 at 4:21 PM




On one hand, those who acknowledge with approval provide social proof that something was said that was important.

Now that I’ve shoved my ego off the cliff, I do wish that those who would suck up, would add value to the discussion. Beyond the social proof of their acknowledgment, it would be nice if they gave an example of why something mattered to them… so we could learn something together.

Comment provided May 22, 2008 at 8:03 AM


David writes:

The rule applys to the body of the article so I think that is fair enough. Forgive me if I am wrong but I thought that a lot of article sites don’t allow any anchor text link in the body?

Comment provided May 25, 2008 at 1:24 AM




I can’t speak for our competitors, but I do know most Publishers prefer to have zero active links in the article body.

This 3 word anchored text link guideline applies to both the article body and the resource box.

Comment provided May 25, 2008 at 2:08 PM


Sean writes:

So basically, this tells all article marketers that target long tail keywords to get lost?

As article marketers, we try to get the low hanging fruit, which typically comes in the form of keywords that are 4-5 words long. With this rule in place, we have to limit ourselves to 3 words, rather than tackling longer, more profitable keywords. I’m not talking about the title here, i’m talking about getting decent backlinks for PR.

Yes, there are some that may abuse the system; but why can’t the editors be told/taught to evaluate what looks spammy and what doesn’t?

The phrase “bad credit payday loans” is 4 words long and the phrase “payday loans for people with bad credit” is 7 words long. To me, as long as they link to relevant content, it’s not at all spammy. According to your new rule though, it won’t be accepted unless the article is of exceptional quality.

I’ve always submitted quality articles which almost never come back with problems. That being said, why don’t you start cracking down on the people who abuse anchor text rather than simply take a rather larger resource away from the professional article marketers out there.

Combine this rule with the latest (only 2 self-serving links rule) and you’ve dealt a heavy blow to many article marketers out there. It may not be seem so right away, but I guarantee there will be some ranting & raving later on.


Comment provided May 28, 2008 at 6:42 PM



/small rant/

Why does it not surprise me that the folks who complain about this change almost never uncloak, reveal themselves or post articles with a domain not being whois guard privacy protected?

/end rant/

Sean… If you’re here purely for SEO, you’ve come to EzineArticles for the wrong reason.

This change was in response to an underground guru-wannabe selling secrets on how to scam EzineArticles by making your entire Resource Box be an anchored text link.

And after the dust has settled on these changes, here’s what I’m pretty certain will happen: We’ll still be sending MILLIONS of visitors to our members websites every month, many members will continue to see EzineArticles as their highest non-search-engine traffic referral source, & CTR (Click Through Rates) for our members URL’s in their resource boxes will still be higher than most any other site like ours.

Comment provided May 29, 2008 at 7:51 AM


Sean writes:

“Why does it not surprise me that the folks who complain about this change almost never uncloak, reveal themselves or post articles with a domain not being whois guard privacy protected?”

Spam protection. Plus, who wants an unhappy customer coming by for an unfriendly visit? There are some crazy people out there who do some crazy stuff, so it’s not a bad thing to want some privacy. Not to mention all the identity thieves that could get a jump start on their efforts with the information they can so easily access without that protection

/end rant

Anyways.. when Did I say I only use EzineArticles for SEO purposes? I can’t seem to find where I said that. If that’s what you interpreted, I’m sorry for the confusion, as that is not what I meant.

SEO is one of the benefits that comes with submitting articles to your article directory. I get plenty of referral traffic from, but that isn’t what I was talking about. The point was that you are stripping away one of the big benefits many of us article marketers are granted by submitting articles. Your reason for doing this: Because one guy decided to break the rules and spread his corruption. Is that guy so influential that he makes you take an extremely large perk away from all the rest of us who remain loyal? Is there honestly not a better or more fair way around this?

What makes (or made depending on how this turns out) so great was that it generated referral traffic and it helped boost a sites ranking in an awesome 1-2 combo. That is (or was) what separated it from the rest and what made it rise to the top — in my opinion anyway. With this awesome 1-2 combo gone, it’ll still be powerful, just not as appealing as it once was. I’m sure some will disagree with me on this, but I bet there are just as many that share my view and distaste for this particular change.

After These Changes….

Will members stay? Yes.

Will they still get traffic from their articles? Yes

Will the CTR and traffic be greater than most other article directories? Yes!

In all honesty, you could change it to 1 keyword in the anchor text and a lot of members would still stay & submit articles — in fact, I probably would too. However, there is a big difference between a member base that is merely content with submitting ‚¬“decent‚¬ articles and one that deeply WANTS to submit ‚¬“quality‚¬ articles.

Basically, what I am saying is: there are a lot of article directories out there; some of them are good, some of them are bad, and some of them are great ( is currently the greatest). The ones that are really great, I actually take the time to submit an article so that it is perfect in every sense of the word. I’m talking extra detail to the title, description, bio box, and even the body of the article itself. With those “great directories” I go above and beyond what I do with the “basic” directories.

When I submit my article to a basic (low level) directory, I pay almost no attention to it. I use a generic, pre-crafted bio box, a rather dull description, a non-fancy title, and I just copy and paste the article in there like some clone. Why do I do this? Because the article directory isn’t a premium directory, it’s not going to bring in traffic like, nor will it give me any type of SEO ranking boost. In short, it’s just a minuscule building block that could POSSIBLY help my site. on the other hand, it is an enormous building block that creates a strong foundation for businesses. But, with this change, I feel as though the building block lost some of it’s luster and strength. It’s still strong, just not as strong as it once was.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great directory and will probably remain so after this change. It’s just that these type of changes happening one right after the other tend to lead to a slippery slope; a slope that starts to jab at the members slowly over time (yes, I am referring to the new 2 self-serving links rule as well). The first few jabs we will ignore and/or live with, but if we keep getting poked & prodded, we will respond.


P.S. I thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer questions and discuss these issues.

Comment provided May 30, 2008 at 7:44 AM


Brian writes:

Please make this 4 words. I have had a few articles changed because I had 4 word links. Many of these links were titles of articles I was linking to or titles of books I was suggesting.

I understand that you don’t want whole lines of link text, but please more than 3. Maybe you could allow just one 4 word link or 2 links with 3 or less words.

Comment provided June 1, 2008 at 7:40 PM




It is (4) words if the quality of your article rocks the world by anyone’s definition (means you have to hit the ball at least to the fences, if not out of the ballpark).

Comment provided June 2, 2008 at 7:41 AM


Bryan Stevens writes:

I’m just curious, what will happen to our article if, in spite of our sincere efforts, our article is not judged as “out of the ballpark”? And what criteria are used to determine this? Hey, it’s your ball so we have to play by your rules, I just wonder if it’s possible to get a little more specific than “by anyone’s definition”?

I am very new to all of this so please forgive my ignorance.

Comment provided June 9, 2008 at 2:00 PM




You’re an example of someone who writes quality original articles from just a 2 second glance at your articles:

Little bit of formatting problems on one of your articles that included forced break tags in the article body (something our editors should have either fixed or rejected the article for)… but the rest is good.

Your landing page is not bad, but it’s not ‘out of the park’ because you didn’t reveal your NAME or even a pen name.

So we take many elements, it’s subjective, but a hint: Your landing page matters to us because it tells us whether we can predict if our users/your article readership, is going to have a positive or negative user experience when they visit your site.

This may help:

If your article is original works, something of your best personal effort and not ghostwritten plus your landing page looks like it’ll deliver our users a positive experience when they leave EzineArticles to visit your site, we think may have the beginning elements to be ‘above average’.

Comment provided June 9, 2008 at 2:12 PM


Michael writes:


first of all thanks for discussion this with all of us.

I don’t think that limiting to three words actually adds value to the reader. (see below)

I think there is a difference between linking half your resource box (which with me is usually 50-100 words) and using 4 words.
For example something like “ORGANIC GRAPEFRUIT JUICE COMPARISON” (sorry for screaming) is already busting the limit (and I think it actually LESSENS the user experience if just “organic grapefruit juice” is highlighted when what they get is an organic grapefruit juice comparison.

Or take something like “ORGANIC GARDEN PEST CONTROL”. There’s no way to express that in three words (organic garden pest? garden pest control?)

Also, I often promote reports – e.g. “GRAPEFRUIT SEED EXTRACT REPORT”. Is it really adding value when only grapefruit seed extract is highlighted (but I’m not selling or promoting grapefruit seed extract but just published information?

Why do you want to take such draconian measures and hurt your members who put a lot of effort in writing articles just because some underground guru is trying to trick the system?

How about a higher minimum word-count for the resource box and a 4 word limit? This way you could ensure that only a small (and relevant) part of the resource box is highlighted.

Or giving people the option to change their two 3-word links for on 4-word link.


Comment provided June 9, 2008 at 2:15 PM


Bryan Stevens writes:


Thanks for the quick response.

You made me look. My name is in the first sentence of the body text on my landing page, do I need to do something different?

Also, which article has the forced break tags, because I tried to avoid that. Like I said, I’m very new at all of this so I would need to look at the article in question to see what is different about it.

Comment provided June 9, 2008 at 2:20 PM




Sorry, didn’t see it in a 7 second glance and I looked at the near bottom of the sales letter and the bottom. My bad, I should have did a browser find.

This is the one with some hard line breaks throughout the article body:—No-Problem,-Fix-It-Yourself!&id=1195488

One more criteria to share: If we think you’re here ONLY for SEO, then we think ‘not quality’… and the 3 word anchor text limit stays. I’m not saying this about your articles, but rather in general.


We’d accept “ORGANIC GARDEN PEST CONTROL” if your article was top notch including the positive landing page experience thing plus no evidence that you’re aiming for SEO only purposes with your article.

Again, you can have up to 5 words linked up if your article is awesome and your landing page incredible. If it’s less than “A” quality, then the 3 word rule continues.

Lastly, a tip: If you include an http:// URL in your Resource Box, it will tell us that you’re not out for SEO only and therefore should be taken more seriously.

Comment provided June 9, 2008 at 2:29 PM


Jan Verhoeff writes:

I’ve found that by including http:// links in the resource box your links are more readily live than if all your links are word links. The reason being, people who simply copy and paste the article often don’t check the links to be sure they are working. They should. They agree to do that. But in reality they often do not.

SEO works better if not all your links are word relevant. Use your keywords more appropriately and you don’t have to worry about the links.

I’m always having to cull keywords, because when I write in my genre they are high in the focus of what I’m writing. Recently I sent in an article outside my genre and wasn’t even thinking keywords, just showing a young man how to use one of his articles differently (he wanted me to post mine) and I got culled for keyword overuse. I had to choke on that one, because there are only a few word to use for that topic. (But, I did rewrite it and it was accepted – my young student got a giggle that I’d been rejected. LOL)

Comment provided June 9, 2008 at 2:39 PM


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