If you have been doing SEO for a while, then you know how important anchor text optimization was back in the day for getting your websites to rank high in search engines. But is it still important today?
This article will give you an overview of everything you need to know about anchor text, from best practices to what not to do.
What Is Anchor Text?
Anchor text is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. It is what allows users to navigate from one webpage to another.
Regarding SEO, anchor text is important because it can help search engines understand what a webpage is about.
Anchor Text Example
Here is a code example of anchor text:
<a href="http://www.example.com">Example Anchor Text</a>
Before the Penguin update, having keyword-rich anchor text links was one of the best ways to get your website to the top of the search engines.
For example, if I were managing SEO for Rei.com and wanted to rank for outdoor clothing, I would get as many links as possible from related sites with high authority, with the keyword-rich anchor text of outdoor clothing – and boom, you would get first page rankings.
Back then, anchor text links using exact match keyword-rich anchors would get you first page rankings. Now it will trigger a penalty from Google and just does not work anymore.
Types Of Anchor Text
There are many different types of anchor text. Here is a breakdown of the different internal and external link types.
|Anchor text is “exact match” if it includes the exact match of the keyword you are targeting. For example: “seo services” links to a page about SEO services.
|Anchor text that includes a variation of the keyword on the linked-to page. For example: “SEO Content Marketing Services” links to a page about Content Marketing.
|Use of a brand name in the anchor text. For example: ‘LinkedIn’ linking to an article on Linkedin.com.
|Use of a generic keyword link “Click here.”
|If you use an image, Google will use the text in the image alt attribute as the anchor text.
|A URL that is used as an anchor. For example, “www.searchenginejournal.com” is a naked link anchor.
Best Practices For Anchor Text
There are a few best practices that you should keep in mind when it comes to anchor text.
First, ensure your anchor text is relevant to the page you are linking to. Irrelevant anchor text can confuse users and search engines alike. Second, vary your anchor text usage.
Using the same anchor text repeatedly can be spammy to both users and search engines.
We often don’t have any control over who links to your website and what anchor text they use as a link to your content.
Keep the anchor text to a few words if possible, and don’t provide a long sentence that does not look natural. The anchor text should describe the page you’re linking to and help entice end users to click on the link.
Finally, keep your anchor text natural. Do not stuff keywords into your anchor text to game the system; this will only result in a potential penalty from Google.
Google’s John Mueller recommended this for internal link anchor text:
“With regards to internal links you’re giving us a signal of context. So basically you’re saying, in this part of my website you’ll find information about this topic.
And that’s what you would use as the anchor text for those internal links.
So that’s something where on the one hand usually that’s something that you want to kind of give that context to users as well.
The kind of internal links that you would use for users usually matches what you would use for SEO as well.
That’s something where luckily there’s a nice overlap there.”
Google’s Advice For Anchor Text
Not sure what counts as “natural” anchor text? Luckily, Google has provided some guidelines.
According to Google, your anchor text should be descriptive and succinct.
It should provide context for the user and help them understand where they are being taken when they click on the link.
In short, your anchor text should give users a good idea of what they can expect to find on the linked-to page.
What Not To Do With Anchor Text
Now that we have gone over some best practices for anchor text, let us look at what not to do with it.
First, do not use exact match keyword-rich anchors excessively. This looks spammy and unnatural and will trigger a penalty from Google.
Second, do not use generic anchors such as “click here,” “read more,” etc. These provide no context or information about where the user will be when they click the link.
Finally, do not use excessive cross-linking; too many links going to and from the same pages looks suspicious to both users and search engines alike.
According to the Google SEO Starter Guide:
Format links so they’re easy to spot. Make it easy for users to distinguish between regular text and the anchor text of your links. Your content becomes less useful if users miss the links or accidentally click them.
It’s good advice. I can recall reading several articles on the web, hovering over the content with my mouse, and getting taken to another website.
Most of the time, I did not know that the text was a hyperlink because it looked like regular text.
Using CSS or text styling that make links look just like regular text.
Another point to keep in mind is to be careful who you link to. You can confer some of your site’s reputation to another site when your site links to it.
If you do not want to pass any value to the page you’re linking to, always make sure you’re using the nofollow attribute.
Anchor text is an important part of any successful SEO strategy.
When used correctly, it can help improve both your website’s ranking and visibility. However, it is important to avoid over-optimizing your anchor text, as this can lead to penalties from Google.
Stick to using keyword-rich anchors sparingly, and ensure that the rest of your anchor text is natural and informative.
Keep these tips in mind next time you create anchors for your website for linking internally and externally.