What Is Anchor Text?

Kendall Brennan
By Kendall Brennan

There are many components to SEO, and sometimes what is true one month could completely change the next, considering that Google continues to update its algorithm more and more often. Staying on top of these updates – including the latest like producing high-quality content, getting great backlinks from other websites, writing meta descriptions, and using H2 subheads – is critical if you want your content to be seen.

One important part of SEO that you should be using in all of your content is anchor text.

What Is Anchor Text?

Anchor text is a hyperlink’s clickable text, as seen here. It is usually blue, while the rest of the text is black. To create anchor text, you simply highlight over the words you want to link, hit the hyperlink tool in your content management system, and add the link. You can also include it manually with the HTML code for links.

Why Does Anchor Text Matter?

Internal linking is important because it transfers link authority from one page to the next. Typically the homepage of a site has the most amount of links pointing to it. By using internal linking, it helps distribute the authority that the homepage has acquired from its backlink profile. Specifically, the keywords used in the anchor text can influence keyword rankings. By using the keyword in the anchor text, it signals to Google which page should be ranking for that keyword.

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The same concept applies to links pointing to your site. By using strategic anchor texts that include keywords, you are able to pass authority from one site to another while influencing keyword rankings.

The Various Types of Anchor Text

Anchor text isn’t as simple as highlighting words and linking to a page. You have to look at the different types of anchor text you can choose from before deciding what strategy to employ.

The types of anchor text include:

  • Branded: Branded anchors may go directly to your home page or another pillar page, and will be the name of your company. For instance, Best Buy goes to Best Buy’s site.
  • Branded + Keywords: Branded + keyword anchor text mentions the brand as well as the keywords it is trying to target. For example, if a keyword is electronics store and the brand is Best Buy, you could write the anchor text as electronics store Best Buy.
  • Exact-Match: Exact-match anchor texts use the keyword as the linked text. For example, this dog treats link goes to Chewy.com’s dog treats page.
  • Naked Link:  A naked link is used when you link to the URL, for example, BestBuy.com.
  • Generic: This is when you use standard, generic text to link to a page, like click here or visit the site.

Anchor Text Good Practices

The goal of using anchor text is to influence keyword rankings to get more visitors to your page. After all, results on page one of Google will get 95% of the clicks. Specifically, the first result will receive 32.5%, the second one will see 17.6%, and the seventh will see 3.5%. If you factor in Google Maps results, Yelp pages, paid ads, and Wikipedia, there may not even be seven organic results that come up.

You have to fight your way to the top, and with good anchor text best practices, you have a shot of actually being seen.

Some good anchor text best practices including:

  • Use anchor text naturally within your content. Don’t try to force it, especially if it doesn’t make sense. Remember that stop words (like “and,” “is,” and “the”) are OK to utilize and won’t change the meaning of the keyword.
  • Use varying types of anchor text, with your focus always being on branded first. According to a test done by Outreach Mama, national brands will use anchor texts like so: 50% will be branded, 16.5% will be the website name, 8.68% are naked URLs, 6.58% are just natural, and 2.63% are the brand and keyword together. A local brand, uses anchor texts like this: 19.9% are branded, 14.6% are just natural, 13.5% are naked, 3.1% are partial keywords and 1.90% are branded plus keywords. If you are trying to build links to inner pages, the percentages will be even different. Do your own research, and remember that branded is always number one.
  • Backlinks from high-quality websites are crucial. This shows that you are a trusted resource and other high-quality sites aren’t hesitant to source your brand and your information. To get these great backlinks, focus on putting out high-quality content yourself and distributing it on websites relevant to your niche. For example, let’s say your company sells skin care products to millennials. You would do your research on the best keywords, create a guide on Skin Care for Your 20s and 30s, and use anchor links, of course. You would then send the guide to influential bloggers and the top sites in your niche in the hopes that they will link to it. Remember to provide the anchor text you want them to use as well.
  • On that note, if you create a great guide, for example, do not have the anchor text point to your website or a skin care pillar page. Instead, link it to the actual guide. Your anchor text should go to deeper pages on the site. Have faith that once readers look at your great content, they will look around the rest of your website, and be persuaded to eventually purchase from you.
  • Link out to other high-quality websites from your site. These include sites with excellent content and well-known brands.
  • Monitor your backlinks to see where you can optimize and get better results. You can use a free tool like Monitor Backlinks to start.

Now, let’s see about anchor text bad practices you should avoid.

Anchor Text Bad Practices

Do not carry out any of these practices, or else you could end up on page 2 or beyond on the SERP.

  • Don’t link to low-quality sites that don’t benefit your readers just because you want to get a backlink from them. Google sees them as spam.
  • In general, don’t add tons of anchor text or keywords into your articles, because it could disrupt the user experience and signal to Google that you are also spam.
  • Do not use too many exact match anchors, because Google’s algorithm may see you as spam. The branded anchors and naked link anchors are typically safer.
  • Don’t focus on one type of anchor text. Always diversify.
  • Don’t buy backlinks. This could backfire in a huge way, and you don’t want to mess with Google.
  • Don’t make the anchor text generic, because the link won’t be valuable.

Getting Started with Anchor Text

Anchor texts are best used as part of a larger SEO strategy, and not just as a one-off experiment. Always keep in mind that there is no quick and easy way to get to the top of the SERP, unless you pay for ads that will automatically show up. Even then, that is expensive and not always appealing to the users, since they would rather see high-quality content on the topic they are searching for rather than annoying advertisements.

Make sure you’re utilizing the best SEO tools and have an SEO pro on your team who will track Google’s algorithm updates and advise you on the ever-evolving best practices. Only then will you truly master anchor texts and SEO in general, and get your brand and your content to the top of the SERP.

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Kendall is a Senior SEO Strategist at Power Digital. She specializes in SEO, but also has a passion for the holistic view of digital marketing and seeing how all channels work together to create a strong digital presence.