23Dec
By: Justas Markus December 23, 2016

What is anchor text?

Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink that links to another location or document on the web. It is commonly displayed in blue and underlined, like this link to Oberlo homepage.

Anchor text in HTML code:

<a href=”http://www.oberlo.com“>like this link to Oberlo homepage</a>

Why is anchor text important?

Search engines use anchor text to determine the theme of the linked-to page and which keywords it should rank for. It’s an important factor in search engines’ ranking algorithms and therefore plays a crucial role in any link building for SEO strategy.

As anchor text provides context for inbound links by indicating to search engines what query it should rank for, it has an impact on a website’s organic search volume and performance. A page has significant chances of ranking well in search results if a number of links with the right keywords in their anchor text are pointing to it.  

Different types of anchor text

To create a diverse anchor text profile and avoid getting penalized by search engines, you need to understand all types of anchor text.

Generic. The anchor text uses a generic phrase that doesn’t provide useful context about the subject matter of the linked-to page and often serves as a call-to-action anchor. The most common examples include “click here”, “read more”, “this website”, “this page”, “go here”, etc.

Avoid building links with generic anchor text as they do not appeal to users and fail to maximize a link’s SEO value due to vague context.

Branded. The anchor text that uses a brand name as text.

Branded anchors are the safest to use, unless you have an exact match domain. An exact match domain is a domain name that precisely matches a search query that will drive traffic to your website. For example, if your branded domain is CheapNotebooksOnline.com you should avoid using Branded anchor text or risk being penalized.  

Naked. The anchor text uses a naked URL as text (i.e., https://oberlo.com).   

Exact match. The anchor text uses the exact target keyword phrase you want to rank for.

It is the most important type of anchor text as it has the most power to improve your ranking. However, you should exercise caution when using Exact match anchors, as they could also be the reason why you get penalized. For instance, if you’re trying to rank for “brown shoes” and your anchor text is also “brown shoes”, you’re running a risk of landing a penalty.

LSI Keywords (LSI stands for ‘Latent Semantic Indexing’). The anchor text uses variations or synonyms of your target keyword.

If your target keyword is “online store”, then LSI keywords could include “online shop”, “eCommerce store”, “open online store”, etc. You can easily find LSI keywords by typing your target keyword into Google and noting the suggested options in the search bar.

Partial match/Phrase match. The anchor text uses a partial match of your target keyword.

It’s very similar to LSI anchors, but is considered to be a more natural way of linking to another website. If you’re trying to rank for “Instagram marketing”, partial match anchors would be “useful tips on Instagram marketing” or “learn more about Instagram marketing”.  

Long-tail. The anchor text contains longer variations of your target keyword.

Examples of a long-tail anchor text would be: “Instagram marketing is part of the marketing mix” and “why eCommerce stores should invest in Instagram marketing”.   

Image. Search engines interpret an image’s Alt tag as an anchor text.  

Brand + Keyword. Anchor text contains both your brand name and target keyword.

If your brand name is “Flower Power” and the keyword you’re targeting is “flower arrangements”, then the anchor would be: “Christmas flower arrangements by Flower Power” or “Flower Power festive flower arrangements”.

How to optimize anchor text

Relevancy. Anchor text is an indicator of what the ‘linked-to’ page is all about, so keeping it relevant to the context it’s in is a crucial part of optimization. To improve your ranking you must make sure your target keyword is placed within relevant content.

Distribution of different types of anchors. Your anchor text profile will have a significant impact on your search engine rankings. To build a diverse, natural profile you need to be strategic about how you distribute different types of anchors, aiming to randomize your link building efforts as much as possible. Branded anchors should make up around 40% of a strong anchor profile.

Relevant guest posts. Writing for high authority domains is an effective way to build a strong link profile and boost your overall SEO efforts. It is advisable to use LSI anchors and partial match anchors for these types of posts. You should always aim to create content around topics that are relevant to your niche and use co-citation and co-occurrence to increase their value.

What to avoid with anchor texts

Avoid internal linking with keyword-rich anchors. Although internal links are generally encouraged, using keyword-rich anchors can have a negative impact on your link profile. Instead, try to create long anchor text and spread the keywords within it to maximize its impact. For instance, rather than using your target keyword “Instagram marketing tips”, go for something like “tips to improve your Instagram marketing”.

Beware of linking to spammy sites. Just as high authority sites linking to your site can improve your ranking, your site linking to toxic, spammy sites can damage your link profile due to co-citation principle that comes into play. The sites you link to play an important role in how search engines see your page.