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Anchor Text Best Practice

Posted on 5.20.2007

The theme of Website Magazine's May issue (if you haven't received it - check out the digital edition) is search engine optimization (SEO) and it has received loads of attention and compliments - so thanks! We selected SEO as the theme of the May issue based on a survey running on our home page to identify topics readers are most interested in learning about. No surprise to me, SEO topped the list. (Take the WM Reader Survey and influence the content of future issues).  

Unfortunately, it's impossible to cover all the vital factors for SEO success in a 52-page magazine - one of the reasons we added 16 pages to the Website Magazine digital supplement. One of the results of the focus on specific themes is that we receive questions in regards to best practices on the topics covered in each edition. One such recent question regards the proper way to use anchor text.

What is anchor text and why is it important?  Anchor text is the text used in a linking structure that is visible to users. The keywords or phrases SEOs use in the anchor text of their site contributes greatly to the relevancy of the page being linked. The result is that search engines will give additional value to those pages, thus increasing the chances they are found among thousands of others when someone searches for the phrase found in the anchor text.

Imagine thousands of sites pointing to one page of your website using the same anchor text. Essentially, search engines would consider your site the most relevant and hence most popular for the phrase that those websites are using to link to you. However, variations of the anchor text pointing to your site are ideal. This approach is important because it gives search engines (which factor the number of links pointing to your site into their rankings) the sense that those link "votes" are more natural and not commercially solicited.

Let's Look At An Example:
If you were kind enough to link to Website Magazine, you could use any number of phrases. What we (the SEO in this instance) are looking for (or appreciate the most) is relevant anchor text as well as variation in the anchor text of the links. For example, Website Magazine recommends links using seven anchor text variations. Here's one (the anchor text is in black):

Many websites link to using this anchor text such as (as seen below):

Over time this has helped us receive first page placement for the term "Website Magazine" at Google.

While plenty more accounts for ranking high on search engines for specific phrases (on-page factors for example), anchor text plays a major role and it's something you should take into consideration when starting out with SEO or improving upon your existing SEO campaigns.

It's your turn: take the WM Reader Survey and influence the content of future issues!

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