How much attention are you giving the anchor text in your online content? This small but significant element is often over-optimized or regarded as an afterthought, either of which weakens its impact on your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. But with proper attention, it can be a pivotal tool for earning backlinks and boosting search rankings.
The anchor text – also known as a link label or link title – is the part of a link that’s visible to site visitors. It anchors two locations on the web, your website with the source’s website, so that clicking on it can take you from the source to the destination.
By default, it appears underlined and blue when unvisited and underlined and purple when visited (Source: W3Schools). Nowadays, the text style and color attributes can be changed and customized according to the website design.
This is what an anchor text example looks like on the frontend and below, this is how it looks in code, which is what Google crawlers see:
<a href=”http://www.example.com”>example anchor text</a>
Target Link Anchor Text
SEO best practices require the anchor text to be relevant to the page you’re linking to. It tells users what to expect. For instance, if the link label says “What are anchor links?”, it should lead people to a page that talks about anchor links. Search engine crawlers also use link anchor text choices to understand what the destination pages are about. Google refers to them for context, which, in turn, helps it rank pages more effectively.
Putting in the time and effort to optimize anchor text should be a focus of your SEO strategy if you want to improve your positioning on the search engine results pages (SERPs). For starters, we share with you anchor text best practices in this article. We also teach you the basics, such as:
• Types of anchor text
• How to write anchor text
• What is anchor text optimization or anchor text SEO and how to do it
• What are anchor links applications?
• Getting started with anchor text best practices
Types of Anchor Text
There are different types of anchor text that you need to get familiar with before you can start optimizing them. These are:
• Exact-match anchors
This means the link label is identical to the focus keyword targeted by the page you’re linking to. For example, it’s an exact match when the anchor “link building services” directs the reader to a page about link building services.
• Partial- or phrase-match anchors
Here, the link title is a keyword variation, which fits the content more organically in most cases compared to exact-match versions. Based on the anchor text example above, the variant “backlink packages” can replace “link building services” as an anchor.
• Branded anchors
They refer to hyperlinks that use a brand name as the anchor. We do this often when we refer and link to famous companies like Apple, Facebook, Shopify, etc. A branded anchor keeps you safe from Google penalties, unless your brand name happens to be a spammy exact match domain (EMD). An EMD is a domain name that contains a target keyword, such as sanfranciscoplumbing.com, which increases your chances of driving traffic to your site. But then again, it’s considered spammy.
• Naked links
When the URL is used as the anchor text, it is called a naked link. An example of a naked link would be https://www.thrive.com. Google sees nothing but a linked URL here, so a naked link has no valuable anchor.
• Generic anchors
Two common examples are “Click here” and “Read more.” They mean well, but they don’t explicitly tell people or machines what to expect from the page they’re linking to, which is bad for conversion and SEO.
When an image is linked, Google will refer to the image alt text as the link anchor text. It’s another good reason to add a description whenever you insert an image into your content.
How to Write Anchor Text
Gone are the days when keyword stuffing got web pages to the top of the SERPs. Nowadays, it’s about avoiding exact-match anchor text. In the section above, we mentioned phrase-match and branded anchors as safe bets. But what is the ideal label link format?
Google remains the authority in this. Any serious SEO specialist or content writer must know how to write anchor text with Google algorithm updates in mind.
According to a Search Engine Land article quoting John Mueller, Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst:
You want to probably focus more on things like how can you make it clearer for your users that if they click on this [anchor text] like this is what they’ll find.”
Meaning, make sure you’re providing context, avoiding over-optimization and letting it flow naturally.
What Is Anchor Text Optimization and How to Do It
Now that you have an idea about anchor text best practices, let’s break them down to practical steps. With focus and intention, you can optimize anchor text and enhance your performance on the SERPs.
But first: What is anchor text optimization or anchor text SEO? We have been talking throughout this article about how your link anchor text can indirectly affect your search ranking. Optimization improves this element to ensure it will lead to positive results.
Addison Phuong, Thrive’s link building specialist, said these are the things you can do to optimize anchor text:
• “Keep the anchor text natural and relevant to your content.”
Hyperlinks that sound awkward can be counterproductive. They can make the reader wary about clicking instead of appealing to them.
• “Avoid over-optimization.”
Forcing a focus keyword as your link anchor text many times over, with every version pointing to one of your pages, can look suspicious to Google. The search giant can hit you with a penalty, which negatively affects your page ranking.
• “Don’t link to spammy sites.”
Google ranks web pages based on backlinks or votes of confidence coming from other websites. In theory, you can earn links from or pass on link juice to any site. But it’s better to deal with a reputable site to avoid getting penalized.
• “Place anchors where users can easily see them.”
A good anchor text example would be one that is placed where busy people are more likely to see them right away. Put your link text near headings, subheadings, images and the end of paragraphs to increase the chances of users clicking on them.
• “Link to websites that go deep or are related to the topic.”
For the purposes of SEO anchor text should lead the reader to a deeper understanding of the topic at hand. So aside from being relevant, the destination page should not merely repeat information from the source page.
What Are Anchor Links Applications?
Before we wrap up, let us look at how anchor text is applied to internal and external links:
Link Building and Anchor Text
An effective link building strategy lets you acquire hyperlinks from high-authority sites. One of the basic technical SEO requirements is to gauge the quality of the links you’re putting out there, and the anchor text is useful in that sense.
We determine a link’s quality with the anchor text’s help – is the anchor text relevant to the link itself?” said Phuong.
This contributes to the website’s performance and ranking in Google – the very reason why we are doing link building in the first place.”
Anchor Text, Internal Links and SEO
Moz defines internal links as links that point to other pages on the same website. Making your anchor text, internal links and SEO work together means helping Google understand your site structure and page hierarchy. When done right, this tactic tells the search engine which pages are more important and to prioritize them on the SERPs.
Getting Started With SEO Anchor Text
We’ve discussed the vital role anchor text SEO plays in bolstering your search visibility. We covered several concepts, from the types of anchor text and how to apply them to understanding the anchor text-link building relationship and the anchor text, internal links and SEO dynamics.With these suggestions in hand, your anchor text should start assisting you with your on-page SEO and boost your visibility.
Getting started with SEO anchor text should not be overwhelming, but putting everything into practice takes a conscious effort. This intentional approach counts toward a robust SEO strategy, proving that success can be found in the smallest details.
At Thrive, we have a prolific team specializing in white hat SEO and content writing that leverages anchor text as a reliable page ranking and link building tool. Partnering with us entails more time for our clients to focus on their business while we take care of their optimization efforts.
Get a free proposal when you contact us on our website or give us a call at 866-908-4748 and learn more about how we can help you win on SERPs, one anchor text at a time.