Meet anchor text! And in this article, I’ll show you everything you need to know, including best practices for optimization.
Let’s dive in!
Imagine you're throwing a fancy party, complete with a red carpet and all. Now, the anchor text is like the cleverly worded invitation that guides your guests toward the party. In short, the anchor text is the hyperlinked text snippet that you must click on to activate the link.
Anchor tags normally auto-generate whenever you add a link, but this is what they typically look like in case you’re not using a rich text editor:
<a href=”https://example.com/page123”>anchor text</a>
Your anchor tag will contain your target URL and the anchor text.
Search engines use anchor text as a clue to understand what the linked page is all about. It helps them determine the context and relevance, much like reading the invitation tells you what kind of party you're about to attend.
When the anchor text matches the content of the linked page, search engines go, "Ah, this must be a good fit!" and give it a thumbs-up in their rankings.
On the other hand, proper anchor text contributes to your topical relevance. The goal is to add value to users, and instead of linking to unrelated pages, the anchor text proves that the inserted link is relevant to the topic at hand.
Just like you don't want every guest to show up wearing the same outfit, you also don't want all your anchor texts to be identical.
Instead, it's a good idea to have a variety of anchor texts that describe your linked pages in different ways, and there are 6 types of anchor texts you can use:
Exact match anchor text uses the same keyword or phrase you want to rank for. It's like saying, "Hey, this is exactly what you'll find if you click here!"
For example, if you want to rank for "hiking boots," your anchor text would be "hiking boots."
Typically, you’d want to avoid linking to third-party sites with the target keyword anchor text. Instead, internally link to a more comprehensive resource on the topic within your own website.
Partial match anchor text includes a portion of your target keyword. It's like giving your guests a sneak peek of what's to come.
For example, if you’re targeting “durable trekking footwear,” your partial match anchor text would include “durable footwear” or “trekking footwear.”
The partial match anchor text type is a good option when you want to link to a page covering the topic you’ve referenced in greater depth.
For example, maybe you’re writing a hiking footwear guide but have a separate article on female boots.
You can use this type to promote your own website or reference sources.
For example, if I quoted a statistic from Moz in this article, I’d use the brand name - “Moz” - as the anchor text.
Similarly, you can use branded anchor text to promote your product pages.
As straightforward as it sounds, naked URL anchor text simply uses the URL of the linked page. It's like telling your guests the exact address of the party venue.
In my case, if I were referencing my product in the CTA, my paragraph might look like this:
“Don’t forget to grab your free SEO audit & to-do list on SiteGuru.co!”
Naked URLs are best used for brand recall or when your URL has descriptive keywords like “https://example.com/ultimate-resource-for-hiking-boots.”
If your anchor text isn’t one of the previous types, then we’re talking about generic anchor text.
That doesn’t mean it’s not topically relevant – it just doesn’t include any keywords. This is a viable strategy if the anchor text is still contextual.
For example, you could use "click here to see our hiking boots collection," "learn more about our outdoor footwear," “learn more,” “buy,” etc.
Now, I’ve disproven the myth of LSI keywords in one of my earlier posts. However, you can still use other contextually related phrases or synonyms as your anchor text. No harm in that!
In the hiking world, LSI keywords could include terms like "trail shoes," "outdoor footwear," or "hiking footwear." Using them as anchor text adds context and relevance.
For example, you could have "comfortable trail shoes for your next adventure" as your anchor text.
Since you can hyperlink images, they can serve as anchors. However, make sure you use the right alt texts to describe their content!
Google won’t penalize you if you constantly use exact match anchor text, but it can come across as shady and unnatural. Mix and match different anchor text types instead. For example, you can use the exact match for your most profitable pages and partial matches for external links.
This approach signals to search engines that your website offers a diverse range of valuable content.
As with anything in SEO, if you’re focusing on it too much, it can raise red flags. (Remember keyword stuffing?)
Aim for a natural and balanced use of keywords within the anchor text. Aim for 60% optimization, and keep the other 40% natural – especially if you have a lot of links within your content.
This isn’t just an SEO practice, but it’s worth noting – make sure your hyperlinks stand out in some way among the other text on your page. This way, readers can easily see the links they want to click on.
For example, at SiteGuru, our links are green.
At the end of the day, we’re all here for our searchers, users, and customers.
If your anchor text doesn’t make it easy for the readers to understand what it’s about, reconsider your approach. Links should firstly be useful to readers.
Like finding the perfect spot to plant a trail sign, place your anchor text within descriptive sentences or paragraphs related to the linked page's topic.
It’s best to keep your anchor text to 3-4 words max.
Finally, try to use a ratio of 10-15 links per 1000 words. Linking out too much can make your website look spammy, especially if you’re constantly repeating links.
Much like the rest of SEO, anchor text is a balancing act between giving visitors what they need and ensuring bots catch your drift, too. Follow these best practices, but if you’re ever in doubt – do what feels natural!
When it comes to website content (including anchor text), it’s better to err on the side of under-optimization than over-optimization.