Anchor texts are essential for SEO, but just how essential?
Links to your website from other sites and internal links between your pages have always been important.
At the heart of these links is the text used for the link.
In this article, we delve deep into its nuances and significance.
- What is Anchor Text?
- The Evolution of Anchor Texts in SEO
- Different Types of Anchor Texts
- The Importance of Diversifying Anchor Text
- Anchor Texts and Link Relevance
- Best Practices for Optimising Anchor Texts
- Potential Pitfalls and Missteps
- Tools and Techniques to Analyse Anchor Text Profiles
What is Anchor Text?
Anchor text is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink.
In the old days, such links were usually blue and underlined to differentiate them from the rest of the text.
For instance, if “SEO Guide” links to an in-depth tutorial, “SEO Guide” is your anchor text.
The Evolution of Anchor Texts in SEO
Anchor texts have come a long way from mere hyperlinking tools.
Search engines, primarily Google, began to discern the relevance and context of these texts, ascribing their value to search ranking algorithms.
Different Types of Anchor Texts
Anchor texts vary in form and purpose:
- Exact Match: A direct reflection of the target keyword.
- Partial Match: Contains the keyword amidst other text.
- Branded: Named after the company or brand.
- Generic: Phrases like “learn more” that don’t indicate content specifics.
- Image Anchors: Images serve as links, with their alt text as the anchor.
- LSI Anchors: Using synonyms or related phrases.
- Naked URLs: Plain URLs used as anchors.
Here are some examples of the above.
If your business website targets the keyword ‘baking soda’, then an anchor text of ‘baking soda’ would be an exact match.
In the above example, a partial match keyword would be something like ‘get the best baking soda’.
This is your brand name, so in our case, a branded anchor text would be ‘Wilo’.
Links that contain anchor text like ‘click here’ or ‘read more’ are considered generic.
Where the image itself is the link, with the ALT text of the image effectively becoming the anchor text.
LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing)
This is where the anchor text is within the context of the target keyword you are trying to rank for. So if the target keyword was ‘Chocolate Chip Cookies’, examples of LSI anchor texts could be ‘Cookie recipes, ‘Baked Goods’ or ‘Sweet Treats’.
This is simple where the URL or domain is used, for example, www.your-site.com or domain.com.
The Importance of Diversifying Anchor Text
Relying on a single anchor text is a red flag for search engines and can be seen as spammy.
Striking a balance between branded, exact match, and generic anchor texts ensures authenticity and boosts SEO rankings.
The last thing you want for any link, external or internal, is for them all to have precisely the exact text.
Anchor Texts and Link Relevance
Beyond the anchor text, the surrounding content context plays a pivotal role.
A relevant link between the source and target pages amplifies the anchor text’s weightage.
It’s not enough to add a link to a random text selection, as the search engines will look at the context of the anchor text with its surroundings.
Best Practices for Optimising Anchor Texts
Optimal anchor text strategies hinge on a few principles:
- Avoid over-optimisation for a balanced approach.
- Foster natural linking patterns.
- Prioritise context over forced keyword insertions.
It can be very tempting to use commercial intent anchor texts everywhere.
For example, if your business sells ‘widgets’, you might consider internal or external anchors to be things like:
- Buy the best widgets
- The only widgets you need
- Widget retailer
- Discount Widgets
These anchor texts are commercial in their intent, often referred to as ‘money’ links where the link profile looks like they could have been paid for (i.e. you bought the link).
Fostering natural linking patterns.
The better way to get links back to your site is a mixture of different anchor texts AND intents.
So for the example outlined above for ‘widgets’, a better range of anchor texts would include:
- convenient widget
- time-saving tool
- and so on
These are simple examples, but you create a better, more natural-looking link profile by not chasing the money links.
You don’t want a backlink to (for example) a commercial bakery website from a motorcycle store.
You do want a backlink from a food blog.
If the paragraph in which the link is placed does not match the context of the content the anchor is linking to, this also creates problems.
Potential Pitfalls and Missteps
Google’s Penguin update revolutionised anchor text optimisation.
Over-reliance on exact match anchors and spammy practices can now severely hamper SEO efforts. Many sites see manual Google penalties for employing this black-hat SEO technique.
Tools and Techniques to Analyse Anchor Text Profiles
To master anchor text strategies, you must utilise robust SEO tools that help assess and strategise anchor text distributions, keeping an eye on backlink profiles.
For external links, you can use free tools like Google Search Console by going to Links > External Links here.
Other paid tools, such as SEM Rush and ahrefs, will give you additional information (for a price).
For internal links, Google Search Console also provides information, as do the paid tools, but you can also use our Internal Linking tool if you have a WordPress site to get an overview of all your internal links.
In SEO, the devil is often in the detail.
With their subtleties, Anchor texts underscore the importance of a nuanced approach that blends relevance with diversity.
Getting this right is crucial for SEO success, so we build the WILO plugin to give you an easy-to-use on-page tool for checking and tweaking your internal links.