A good SEO strategy is made up of various techniques and aspects, all working together to boost your chance of appearing in search results for your target keywords. No matter what type of website you run, whether you build on a website builder or a CMS, something all sites have in common is that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is crucial for ranking well in search engines and growing traffic. Everyone nees to check off the SEO basics.
But one powerful SEO tool that is often overlooked is anchor text.
That’s right, the clickable text that appears in a hyperlink can have a massive impact on your chances of SEO success.
Keep reading to find out more…
So, what is anchor text?
Anchor text is the clickable text that appears on a webpage in a hyperlink. Anchor text is designed to stand out from the rest of the content on the page so that users know it’s clickable. Usually, this is done by making it a different color or underlining it.
Anchor text should be relevant and descriptive and should give users an idea about the type of page the link will take them to which means you don’t have to have long, ugly URLs visible on your website.
When used correctly, anchor text can improve both the user experience and the SEO of your website. While users use anchor text to understand where the link is leading and decide if they want to follow it, Google uses anchor text to provide even more context for the linked page, allowing algorithms to rank it accordingly.
For example, if you wanted to link to your product page selling dog beds you could use anchor text like this:
The best dog beds are comfortable and easy to clean.
Best dog beds is a great anchor text choice because it tells both Google and users that the linked page features the best dog beds. It’s much more relevant than using something like:
For the best dog beds click here.
Click here doesn’t tell us anything about what we can expect on the page.
There are various different types of anchor text that you can use on your website to help improve your SEO. The most common ones are:
- Exact match anchor text – includes the exact keyword(s) that the page you are linking to is targeting.
- Partial match anchor text – includes a variation of the keywords the linked page is targeting.
- Branded anchor text – your brand name is used as the anchor text.
Types of anchor text we recommend avoiding incude:
- Generic anchor text – doesn’t include any keywords or reference to the page content e.g. “learn more”.
- Naked URLs – the link URL is used as the anchor text.
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We know SEO can be confusing, so if you need help with any of the terms used in this guide, check out our SEO Glossary for further explanations.
Let’s take a look at some best practices for anchor text SEO optimization.
Conducting Keyword Research for Anchor Text
Keyword research is a major part of any SEO strategy and it can also help you to determine exactly which keywords you should be targeting with your anchor text.
When undertaking keyword research you need to focus on search volume and user intent: how many people are searching for that term and what is the intent behind the search?
Once you understand the user intent behind your target search terms, you can ensure that your linked pages provide the answers searchers are looking for.
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We put together a handy list of the best Free SEO Tools for your website, including tools to help with keyword research.
Diversifying Anchor Text
For the best results, diversify your anchor text and use a mix of different ones (branded, exact match, partial match) for a more natural linking profile.
Don’t use the same anchor text over and over again, even if it’s all linking to the same page.
Instead, use a mix of different, relevant anchor texts for the best user experience.
Utilizing Descriptive and Concise Anchor Text
It’s important to avoid over-optimizing your anchor text. As a rule, we suggest keeping anchor text to a maximum of around five words, and don’t be tempted to stuff every keyword you’re targeting into your anchor text.
When determining what anchor text to use for a link, ask yourself:
- Does the anchor text accurately describe the linked page?
- Will the user expect to land on the linked page if they click that specific piece of anchor text?
Incorporating Relevant Keywords and Variations
If you want to boost anchor text SEO then it’s important to incorporate your keywords.
For example, if you are targeting the term “camping equipment” on one of your web pages, it makes sense to link to it from elsewhere on your website using the anchor text “camping equipment”.
This will help to tell Google what the web page is about, allowing the search engine to rank the page for the target search term.
In order to avoid repetition in your content, you can use keyword variants and partial match anchor text too.
For example, when linking to that camping equipment page you could also use anchor texts such as:
- “best camping equipment”
- “camping equipment you need”
- “essential camping equipment”
Top tip! Remember to keep your language natural and within your brand’s tone of voice. Don’t focus on including your keywords at the expense of natural and high-quality content.
Placing Anchor Text Within Relevant Context
You need to make sure that the anchor text you use is not only relevant to the linked page but also to the context within which it is appearing.
For example, if we wanted to link to our SEO checklist, in this article we could simply use the anchor text SEO checklist since you are already reading about SEO and it’s a natural progression.
If we were linking to the article from a different page on our website, e.g. our homepage, we might use a more descriptive anchor text such as “Check out our SEO checklist” to direct users to the article.
Optimizing Internal and External Linking Strategies
Anchor text is the perfect way to create a site structure and lead users through your website.
By using anchor text for internal links, you can improve site navigation and the overall user experience your website offers.
A key part of any SEO strategy is building high-quality backlinks, which in turn can help to improve your site’s domain authority. Backlinks are links from other websites that point to your website as a trusted source. As part of building backlinks, you need to think about the anchor texts used. Optimized off-site anchor texts, that include variations of your keywords, can have a major impact on the success of your wider SEO strategy.
Below we’ve listed some of the common anchor text mistakes that you should avoid on your website:
- Stuffing anchor texts with an excessive amount of keywords, making the content hard to read and unnatural.
- Using generic and non-descriptive anchor text such as “click here”.
- Using the same anchor texts over and over again and ignoring the importance of anchor text diversification.
- Ignoring the surrounding context of anchor text and using terms and phrases that don’t make sense in their given context.
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We put together a whole guide on Common SEO Mistakes To Avoid to help you avoid the pitfalls we’ve been through ourselves or seen time and time again online over the past 10 years!
Like any online activity, it’s important to remember that this is just the beginning. Trends and algorithms are constantly changing and evolving and it’s important therefore to stay up to date with all the latest insights and updates.
While we can’t predict the future, our web experts can predict some of the future trends and considerations that website owners will need to be aware of when it comes to using anchor text for SEO such as:
- Voice search will only continue to grow. Work on voice search optimization – think carefully about the anchor text you use, ensuring it is using natural language that meets the needs of voice searchers.
- Mobile-first considerations: Google already operates a “mobile-first” indexing system and the focus on mobile searchers will continue. Make sure therefore that your anchor texts are optimized for mobile searchers by using short, concise, and relevant terms. We can help you make your website mobile friendly with our guide!
- Google updates: Google’s search algorithm is constantly changing and evolving and these changes are likely to impact the role anchor text plays in SEO. Keep up to date with all the latest algorithm updates and announcements to stand the best chance of success.
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Interested in other SEO trends?
- We recommend learning how to use local SEO if you run an in-person location as well as an online presence.
- Discover what SEO reputation management is and why it matters.
- Finally, check out how Google Reviews affect your site’s SEO in our Reviews Vs SEO breakdown, where we cover what Google is looking for and how to optimize your reviews.
Anchor text is an important feature of your website, both for users and search engines.
The right anchor text tells Google exactly what a web page is about, helping the search engine to rank it accordingly.
The best practices laid out in this article will help you to optimize your anchor text and provide both a great user experience and the chance for SEO success.
Remember, the online world is constantly evolving, especially SEO, so while the tips and tricks in this article are a great place to start, nothing beats staying informed and up to date with all the latest algorithm updates and trends. Next up, choose an SEO-friendly website builder, or check out our top SEO tips for WordPress users if you prefer a CMS.
Yes absolutely! Using optimized anchor text for internal links helps to guide users (and Google’s bots) around your website. A relevant and descriptive anchor text tells users what to expect from the linked page and will encourage them to click through and continue exploring your website.
No, it’s important to mix up your anchor text, even when linking to the same page. You can use a combination of exact match, partial match, and branded anchor texts when linking to other pages on your website.
The best way to determine what anchor text to use is to ask yourself, what is the linked page about? The anchor text should be a relevant and accurate, if concise, description of the linked page. Undertaking keyword research and determining the search terms you want to target on the page will help you to choose anchor texts that will benefit your SEO too.