Anchor text is one of the least understood components of search engine optimization (SEO) and SEO content writing. Far too often, writers place links over some words without much thought. And this happens because of the lack of understanding of the relationship between anchor text and SEO. But once you do, you can use well-crafted, relevant anchor text in link building strategies to boost page rankings.
In this anchor text guide:
• What is an anchor text?
• Why are anchor texts important for SEO?
• What are the different types of anchor texts?
• What anchor text best practices do you use in link building strategies?
• How do you optimize anchor text for SEO?
• How do SEO consultants use anchor text link building techniques?
What Is an Anchor Text?
The best answer to the question “what is an anchor text?” is that they are clickable words that contain a hyperlink. The purpose of hyperlinking text is to send visitors to a target page, which can be any of the following:
• Informative page
• Transitional page (capture email, contact form, etc.)
• Product or service page
• Sales page
Why Are Anchor Texts Important for SEO?
Next to content, links are the most essential search engine ranking signals. For one thing, they help visitors visit other pages within the same site or on another site.
A well-crafted anchor influences user behavior, directing them to where they should go. On business blogs, there are at least two intents. One is to improve user experience by providing links to more detailed pages. Another is to lead visitors to transitional or sales pages.
For SEO, links help search engines like Google index and rank pages. Anchor texts, in this regard, may not play much of a role. But it contributes to other metrics that matter to rankings. For example, more people following internal links reduce bounce rates. External links, meanwhile, help increase trust and authority.
What Are the 7 Types of Anchor Texts?
There are different types of anchor texts. It’s best to learn what they are so you can use the right ones depending on the content and intent.
1. Generic Anchor Text
Generic anchors do not include any word related to a keyword. Moreover, they do not provide context to the surrounding texts. But when used the right way, they are super persuasive.
Often, the terms used tell the audience to do something. Hence, most people use them as a call-to-action (CTA) or to draw attention.
Remember not to use generic anchors too much. Otherwise, it may sound spammy.
Examples of generic anchors:
• buy now
• click here
• download this
• go here
• more info
• over here
• read more
• this blog
• this page
• this website
Example usage of generic anchor texts:
• “Click here to learn more about semantic search.”
As you can see, the term “click here” has nothing to do with the rest of the text. But it draws your attention, then tells you to take action; to click and learn more about semantic search.
2. Branded Anchor Text
Branded anchors are excellent for establishing authority. You may also consider public figures and names associated with a brand. From an SEO standpoint, it tells Google that you are referencing a high-quality website, page or reputable source.
Examples of branded anchors:
Attaching a keyword next to the brand name can be a good strategy. For one thing, it helps you avoid over-linking to a particular brand name. In some circles, they call it Branded + Keyword anchor texts.
Consider Thrive as an example. The agency provides a wide range of services. So, if you are going to link to one of its services, it would be best to include the name of the service.
Example usage of branded anchor texts:
Both sentences link to the same page. But in the first sentence, the anchor used is the brand name. So, if you were to use the brand name to link to different pages, that is when Google might think you are over-linking. Therefore, a better way to use branded anchors would be to follow the example of the second sentence.
There are no set rules here. But for simplicity, you can use a branded anchor to link to the main homepage. But for a specific page, tool, product or service, you can attach the relevant texts.
One thing to remember is that if you are attaching a keyword, keep it to a minimum. Otherwise, you might be over-optimizing without even realizing it.
3. Exact Match Anchor Text
Using exact match anchors is one of the best ways to increase the chances of ranking. But you have to take a conservative approach.
So, how does it work?
Use the exact text used by the target page as its primary keyword. To illustrate, here is an example:
Suppose you are hyperlinking to an article called “How Google Evaluates High-Quality Backlinks.” And the primary keyword used in this article is “high-quality backlinks.”
A great way to use the same term would be:
“Thrive helps you secure high-quality backlinks.”
Like other anchors, do not overuse exact match anchors. While it worked wonders some years ago, its effectiveness diminished after Google updated its algorithm.
“You should not use exact-match anchor text for every link within your content,” Thrive’s lead SEO strategist Ronnel Viloria explained. “It will not look natural and could get your site penalized.”
4. Partial Match Anchor Text
Quite simply, partial match anchors mix your target keyword with random words. One advantage of using this anchor is that it allows you to create natural-sounding hyperlinks. In some cases, it helps you avoid using exact match anchor text, if necessary.
Examples of partial match anchors:
• “read this anchor text guide” linking to “anchor text guide”
• “high-quality SEO backlinks” linking to “SEO backlinks”
• “building links safely” linking to “building links”
Partial match anchors, as you see, do not look spammy. But more importantly, the words you attach can add context to the target page’s content. One can say that because Google understands the context of the content, it might help increase rankings.
Again, do not overuse partial match anchors. Be careful not to use an excessive number of words too. The problem with long anchor words is that they might dilute your keyword. Some readers, for example, may get confused, not knowing which part of the anchor text is related to the target page.
5. Related Anchor Text
Related match anchors are variations of partial and exact match anchors. Instead of using the target keyword, you use a keyword variation. You may, of course, add random words if merited.
In general, there are two ways of applying related anchor texts. For example, suppose the keyword is “opioid addiction crisis.” In this case, how would you create anchors?
1. “excessive use of painkillers.” Here, you are using words that do not include the keyword. Of course, you can also use “excessive opioid use” or “excessive use of opioids.” Both these instances use one term that is a part of the keyword.
2. “what is the opioid addiction crisis” or “how bad is the opioid addiction crisis.” Here, you appended some words to the main keyword. Notice that these terms are not the same as random words. Rather than telling people what to do, you let them know what they will find out by following the link.
It is also worth mentioning that there is a third way of applying related keywords. For instance, using “Nike Air Zoom” to target “buy running shoes.” People who click on the anchor text expect to see more info about the shoes. But if they see a sales page, it might leave a negative impression. So while you will not get penalized by Google, it does come across as spammy and might put off visitors.
To play it safe, be meticulous with word choice. Try to use words that add context to the keyword.
6. Naked Link Anchor Text
Naked anchors are URLs. You do not use them in the main content most of the time. And that is because they do not look nice, especially if the slug is long.
Here is one example:
As you can see, that URL is long. It is, therefore, impossible to use it without compromising the quality of the content. For that reason, most people use it as anchor texts in citations and sources found at the end of the article.
But there are instances when you might find it helpful.
Suppose one of your branding strategies is not only to enhance recognition but also for people to remember your domain name. In this case, you can use your domain name. For example, using “thriveagency.com” or “www.thriveagency.com” instead of “Thrive Agency.”
Another instance when you might consider using naked links is if you want to take away suspicions. For example, some people are wary of following links because they are tired of spammy anchor texts. However, if they see the URL, they are more likely to click on the link.
7. Image Alt Text Anchor Links
One of the best practices for including images in web copies is to use alt text. Also called alt tag or alt description, this text string appears in place of the image if it fails to load. Its purpose is to allow screen-reading tools to describe an image to impaired people.
Alt texts help search engines understand the image and rank your site better. Not only that, but they can serve as anchor texts if you use the image to link to another page.
What Anchor Text Best Practices for Link Building Strategies?
Link building best practices extend beyond merely choosing the right words. It also entails anchor text optimization factors, such as:
Using Relevant Anchors
Anchor text, if possible, should not be misleading or look unnatural. Remember that one of the goals of high-quality content writing is to build trust. So, the next time you think about keyword variations, random and related words, try to stay on topic.
Choosing Quality Over Quantity
Avoid using links solely to comply with SEO best practices on link building. In general, the target page must expound on the context of the anchor text. Association is also a consideration. Never link to poor quality, obscure, spammy or suspicious sites. Instead, choose only reputable sites with high domain authority.
Tracking and Testing Anchor Texts
Not many people track and test anchor texts. But this process is a common practice among SEO consultants and SEO content writing services. Using spreadsheets or monitoring tools, they analyze the effectiveness of texts and types of anchors. Then, if necessary, they can fine-tune the content using the most optimal ones.
Using Different Types of Anchor Text
There is no one way of creating anchor texts. Likewise, each external link may have distinct intentions. So, be flexible and mix things up using different anchor texts. Quite possibly, you might come across recommended ratios. Remember, though, that there are no general rules.
How Do You Optimize Anchor Text for SEO?
Anchor text optimization is best achieved by using relevant terms for hyperlinking text and not over-optimizing. These are some of the techniques used in link building services:
Avoid Using the Same Anchor More Than Once
Google values natural links. And that is why tracking anchors is a crucial element of link-building. For example, imagine a page with tens of SEO backlinks. It would look suspicious if the links come from different domains but use the same anchor texts, which could lead to possibly being penalized.
Use a Suitable Type of Anchor
Specific anchors are more often used, depending on the type of content.
• Sidebars. Usually, links coming from the sidebar are images. In this case, the anchor text picked up by the search engine would be its alt tag if available.
• Lists. Brand names are common and may include other words related to products or services.
• Content. The most common type of link informs visitors what to expect from the target page. The words used could be any of the different anchors that contain a keyword.
• Forums. Most people would either use the page’s title or the URL slug.
• Blog Comments. While the anchors found in comments vary, many use names as anchors.
If you are hyperlinking text, know which type of anchor text to use. This way, they would come across as natural when crawled and indexed by search engines.
Do Not Force Keywords
Top-ranking keywords are challenging. Some are also very hard to incorporate into articles without sounding unnatural.
Consider “digital marketing dallas texas” as an example. The usual practice is to use the exact keyword phrase. But that also degrades the quality of the article. So, instead of forcing the keyword, it is better to break them apart like this:
• Thrive is a digital marketing agency in Dallas, Texas.
Notice that the hyperlink text “digital marketing” is only part of the preferred target keyword. But in practice, it may produce better results than forcing exact keywords.
Write anchor text and SEO keywords as naturally as possible. Google not only understands the context of keywords and their variations but also provides results based on geolocation and the history of searches performed by users.
Use Synonyms and Grammatical Numbers
One way to diversify keywords for anchor text and SEO optimization is to use synonyms. For example, instead of cars, use autos or automobiles. While at it, take advantage of singular and plural forms too. This method, at least, helps ease the burden of avoiding using the same anchors twice or more.
How SEO Consultants Use Anchor Text Link Building Techniques?
Compared to independent content writers and relatively small SEO content writing services, a full-fledged SEO and digital marketing agency have entire teams of specialists and SEO tools.
On the surface, clients see the final draft of the content. But there is a lot of work done behind the scenes. For example, in link building services, SEO consultants not only research keywords but also anchor texts. In addition, they work with the content team to follow anchor text best practices.
The SEO team also tracks the anchor texts used and monitors their performance using state-of-the-art SEO tools. Then, they analyze the metrics and make necessary changes to improve rankings. Anchor text optimization, in essence, is an integral part of link building strategies, resulting in higher organic traffic.
Safe Link-Building Practices
Regardless of whether you are building links for the audience’s convenience or using it as a strategy to rank higher, the most crucial consideration is the quality of the target page/domain. But next to that is choosing the correct anchor text to use.
Thrive Agency, for instance, has SEO and link-building specialists who have helped many clients by securing highly desirable backlinks. But, more importantly, they use anchor text optimization and best practices to improve online visibility safely. Contact us today to start seeing results on your link building efforts.