How to Successfully Optimize Your Anchor Text

Anchor Text is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. In modern browsers, it is often blue and underlined, such as this link to the OLB...

Anchor Text is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. In modern browsers, it is often blue and underlined, such as this link to the OLB homepage. SEO-friendly anchor text is succinct and relevant to the target page (i.e., the page it's linking to).

How to Successfully Optimize Your Anchor Text

Why should we use anchor text?

Anchor text – the visibly hyperlinked text on a web page – helps to enhance the relevance of the page to which it links. Search engines give substantial weight to anchor text, and therefore the words that you choose to link can make a big difference to the ranking of your site. It’s a good idea to use a keyword tool to help choose the most relevant words to use as your anchor text, to get a sense of what your target users are searching for and how often.

The Google command ‘allinanchor:keyword’ shows only the pages where your keyword is contained in anchor text. For example, searching ‘allinanchor: best restaurants London’ will return only the pages where the anchor text contains the words ‘best,’ ‘restaurants’ and ‘London.' This indicates that Google’s algorithm separately indexes anchor text, confirming that Google uses anchor text to help decide a page’s relevance.

Internal linking and on-page content

When linking to internal pages of your site, don’t fall into the trap of hyperlinking unrelated or unhelpful anchor text, for example linking to ‘here‘ or ‘click here.' Linking instead to popular keywords helps your pages to be indexed for relevant results and therefore improves your search engine performance.

Types of anchor text

Exact-match
Anchor text is "exact match" if it includes a keyword that mirrors the page that is being linked to. For example: 'link building' linking to a page about link building.

Partial-match
Anchor text that includes a variation of the keyword on the linked-to page. For example: 'link building strategies' linking to a page about link building.

Branded
A brand name used as anchor text. For example: 'OLB' linking to an article on the Moz Blog.

Naked link
A URL that is used as an anchor 'www.onlinelivingblog.com' is a naked link anchor.

Generic
A generic word or phrase that is used as the anchor. "Click here" is a common generic anchor.

Images
Whenever an image is linked, Google will use the text contained in the image's alt attribute as the anchor text.

External linking and off-page content

Your site can gain relevance and improve its ranking for particular keywords by making use of external websites. This can be done using anchor text links in off-page content such as blog posts, articles or infographics.

The key point to remember here is that the anchor text needs to look as natural as possible, both for the sake of your target audience and for Google’s algorithms. It’s also important to make sure that the words that you use for your anchor text are varied and that the destination URLs point to different pages of your site (as opposed to simply the homepage), building authority for each one.

Examples of beneficial anchor text

Useful and varied anchor text for a camping website would be something along the lines of the following:

“Camping equipment,” “Equipment for camping trips,” “Tents and other camping equipment,” “Cheap camping gear” and “Camping gear.”

Search engines understand synonyms and therefore using ‘camping gear’ will return the same results as using ‘camping equipment,' at the same time as building varied authority for both. Since the Penguin update, the variation has become a vital part of successful anchor text optimization.

Anchor text keyword density

With the Penguin algorithm update, Google began to look more closely at keywords in anchor text. If too many of a site's inbound links contain the exact same anchor text, it can start to appear suspicious and may be a sign that the links weren't acquired naturally. In general, it's still a best practice to obtain and use keyword- and topic-specific anchor text when possible. However, SEOs may get better results by striving for a variety of more natural anchor text phrases rather than the same keyword each time.


Along those lines, one important note: Don't overdo it with keyword-heavy internal links. Internal linking is certainly a recommended best practice, but be careful with the anchor text you use to link your own pages together. If too many links to a page all use the same anchor text, even if they're on your own site, Google might sense spammy behavior.

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