SEO Mechanics - Anchor Text

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The Internet has done a lot to make it easier to spread and digest information at a faster pace than ever before, but the really great thing that Web content is able to do is insert supplementary information right into the text on a page in the form of a hyperlink. However, what many up-and-coming Web pros don’t realize is that these hyperlinks, when paired with the right anchor text, can actually play a significant role in improving their SEO efforts, as well.

Quite simply, “anchor text” is just the clickable text in a hyperlink; that is, those specific characters and/or words that a hyperlink displays in the text portions of a Web page that link out to other locations or documents on the Web. When it comes to the coding on a page, anchor text looks like this:

<a href=http://www.exampleurl.com>Anchor Text</a>

But you may be wondering just what kind of a role this actually plays in search engine optimization. Well, as it turns out, search engines tend to use anchor text to figure out the subject matter of the linked-to Web page or document. This means that they get a chance to learn what a page is all about, so if they see that a number of websites link to the page using terms related to its content, Google, Bing and others will note that the page seems relevant to those keywords, and it will begin to rank the page higher, even if those terms never appear in the actual text. Like at all.

See, since search engines tend to heavily weigh inbound links, it is important that they have as much information as possible about the page’s being linked to. In other words, it kind of tells Google or Bing or whoever not only which Web pages the linking site is vouching for, but also why has selected them.

Seems pretty simple, right? The problem is that that many people don’t use anchor text correctly, and that makes it difficult for search engines to glean information about the content of the Web page or document being linked to. This more or less cancels out the SEO benefits of using anchor text in the first place.

The Right Anchor Text Says A Lot
For the most part, the biggest problem that people seem to have with anchor text is that they tend to put links inside text that reads something like, “Click Here,” “Next,” “Read More” or something of that ilk. Of course, by now it should be clear that these sorts of link “descriptions” are inadvisable, as they don’t provide any information about the actual contents of the linked-to page, which makes them virtually useless for search engines and, thus, doesn’t improve the page’s standing in the SERPs.

Instead, anchor text should include targeted or branded keywords often as possible, or at least some sort of descriptive information about the page being linked to. That way, crawlers will be able to quickly find the keywords in their directories.

Just remember that people tend to link to content using anchor text that is made up of either the linked-to website’s domain name or the title of the page in question, so by naming your page with particular keywords, you’ll be able to ensure that *most* of the links you get should include anchor text with those terms that you want to rank for.

Anchor text is a very powerful tool when it comes to SEO and ranking higher on the search engines, but all of its power comes from being descriptive and helpful, not only to the search engines, but readers, as well. It’s important to not force anchor text awkwardly into a Web page; instead, find a way to make it natural and readable, even if that means just including the page title.

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18 comments

CodyW 04-23-2013 2:52 PM

Nice explanation of anchor text, although a caveat from Penguin last year is anchor text can get you slapped if it's "too consistent" or if the exact same anchor text that isn't branded is used too heavily. It stinks, because sometimes this is natural behavior, but often times link spammers use software to toss all kinds of anchor text all over the place with the same term. That's what they're guarding against.

Spread your anchor text around. Keep it variable, and you'll be fine.

Soumya Mondal 04-23-2013 3:34 PM

Website magazine Rocks :D

Its really to much helpful....

JasonK 04-23-2013 3:45 PM

Not sound advice at all.  For internal linking strategy?  Yes.  But you failed to tell readers that this is a chance for keyword variance.  A natural link profile only has 20%-30% keyword optimized links.  The rest are branded or generic.  Otherwise, helloooo Penguin!

Markham Website Design 04-23-2013 5:18 PM

Jason and Cody's comment are bang on. Caution when reading this article because this strategy could see your site penalized with too much of the same keyword anchor text.

MarianeM 04-23-2013 8:56 PM

As with all SEO strategies, moderation is the key. If used judiciously, anchor text can be a powerful link strategy.  I have found that finding the right mix of strategies is key.

Jeff G 04-24-2013 7:11 AM

This is awesome. We have been researching anchor text and introducing multiple versions of that text so we don't get hit by the next Panda again. Used the right way it helps. Used the wrong way...and you fall into the abyss of Google.

Martin Oxby 04-24-2013 11:33 AM

Hi there - I think I have to respectfully disagree with you on using 'click here' and other non-descript links.

Since Google rolled out the Penguin updates you have to more, and more look at the overall link profile of your website and see if it would appear 'unnatural'. You MUST get a spread of anchor text and not just the text, but the CONTEXT of those links as well. Companies have been penalised for using too much keyword-rich anchor text and some of us SEO's are left picking up the pieces after others have over-manipulated anchor text.

So be very careful about 'optimising' anchor text and only use keywords if valid in the context.

Michael Garrity 04-24-2013 11:38 AM

Yeah, I said that:

"All of its power comes from being descriptive and helpful, not only to the search engines, but readers, as well. It’s important to not force anchor text awkwardly into a Web page; instead, find a way to make it natural and readable."

TomasB 04-24-2013 8:27 PM

Many of your posts, material and info your present are difficult for an average person running a website to understand. This one, on another hand, is so basic, that I can't image there are people out there who have never heard of " anchor text" and how it works.

AnandhiA 04-26-2013 7:33 AM

Yes, proper use of anchor text will improve user's views in a site. All other mechanisms are also taken into considerable to improve SEO strategy.

TerryS 04-26-2013 3:13 PM

Okay, that was errrr helpful?

ClicksCrazy 04-27-2013 8:58 AM

But what about Title Tags being used as the descriptive text for the link, when it simply makes not sense to use a description as the anchor text?

nathan smith 04-29-2013 4:31 PM

What you say below is incorrect post penguin / panda.  A link is a link.  If all you do is use keywords in anchor text you could get penalized.  Natural links actually have some anchor text such as "click here" or "read more"

"For the most part, the biggest problem that people seem to have with anchor text is that they tend to put links inside text that reads something like, “Click Here,” “Next,” “Read More” or something of that ilk. Of course, by now it should be clear that these sorts of link “descriptions” are inadvisable,"

Web Design Firm 05-01-2013 4:51 AM

I am still amazed on how many don't know the importance of anchor text. Great article Michael!

ReemaN 07-05-2013 12:50 PM

Variation in anchor texts is important as well, correct? It's great that correctly done anchor texts can be just as useful to SEO as it is for website visitors.

Posicionamiento SEO Estudio 09-22-2013 10:32 AM

The anchor text is not Dudal any one of the most important points when positioning a website in search engines. And I find it interesting the article in relation to the anchor text should be informed that our website is, usually when a client connects us plays with the name of our website SEO Studio, but of course if it is abused can be penalized by google, but how many anchor texts repeated or the same anchor text will be required to not be penalized by Google?

SamanthaM 10-23-2013 2:52 PM

We've learned in today's seo environment, it's so important to have anchor text links that are related to our topics.  But I'm also curious on Posicionamento's question regarding the same anchor text being repeated and at what point will Google penalize a website?

Web Design 11-07-2013 9:21 AM

You have to be cautious now with the new algorithms. If you consistently use the same anchor text, you will get slapped or it will have zero effect. You must change it around from various keywords and variations of those keywords to website name as well as read more and click here.

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