Search Engine Optimization comes with many unknown terms and specialized language you may not entirely understand. The more you learn about SEO, the more questions will arise. For example, if you came across the phrase anchor text, you’re probably wondering what it is and why you should care so that you can include or exclude it from your SEO priorities in 2022.
Even if you don’t yet understand the anchor text and why it is important, you probably have already used it many times on your website or blog. You used anchor text every time you linked to another website for more information or to your pages internally.
Anchor text is a clickable portion of the text which directs users to another page or website.
For example, according to Statista, there are three billion smartphone users worldwide; the word Statista underlined with blue is our anchor text. So what would be better to use as an anchor text, Statista, or three billion smartphone users, or worldwide? Does it still matter in 2022? Let’s find out.
One of the best ways to better understand the anchor text and use it properly on your website is to learn about its different types and which ones are better to use for the Google algorithm. The types of anchor text include:
Exact match is one of the most common anchor text types which can significantly affect your rankings, and Google recommends using it for writing effective link text. “Make the link text match the exact text of the title or heading that you’re referencing.” So, for example, we can use “anchor text” as the anchor text when we link to this page in our future blogs.
A partial match anchor text features a keyword variation on the linked-to page. For example, we can use “How to use Anchor Text Effectively” to link to this page.
A branded text is when you use a brand’s name in an anchor text. For example, “Internet Marketing Geeks provides SEO services for businesses of any scale,” We used the name of our company as an anchor text.
Naked link is when you use the actual link as an anchor text, like ‘visit www.internetmarketings.com for more information. Google doesn’t recommend using naked links as anchor texts. In fact, they explicitly advise: “don’t use a URL as link text. Instead, use the page title or a description of the page. Exception: In some legal documents (such as some Terms of Service documents), it’s okay to use URLs as link text.”
A generic anchor text uses generic words or phrases like ‘shop online ‘buy now’ ‘read more’ ‘click here ‘order one’ etc. Using such text as an anchor makes the context of the targeted page less clear.
Random anchor text may sometimes be similar to generic anchor text, but it doesn’t always use generic keywords. For example, “with the new SEO rules, it is far more challenging to figure out where to place your anchor text.”
Images can also be an anchor, and in this case, Google will use Image’s alt text as the anchor.
Although it may not seem of great importance at a glance, anchor text is a ranking factor for Google, meaning the portion of the text you choose for inserting a link can affect your website positions in search results. Therefore, instead of inserting a hyperlink in just any word in the text, you should select anchor text deliberately to improve your search engine rankings by making it more user-friendly and providing the best experience for visitors.
Anchor text optimization is crucial, as when done right, it can improve your website’s online visibility, and when misused, you can face Google penalties.
External anchor texts, the texts other websites use to link to your web pages, help Google better understand the context of your pages. Although you can’t control what other websites use as anchor text when linking to yours, you can ensure to use descriptive and relevant anchor text within your site, so it helps users navigate between pages.
Many website owners found an easy way to manipulate search engine rankings using the anchor text back in the day. All they needed to do was to acquire enough backlinks with the exact anchor text from different sites. Then, if they wanted to rank for the keyword link-building, they would send links with the exact anchor text – link-building from other websites. Google saw these websites as relevant to the keyword they used as an anchor text, therefore, ranked them well in relevant queries.
Luckily for us, and unfortunately for those who manipulated rankings, in 2012, Google rolled out the Penguin Algorithm, which targeted the backlink manipulation by analyzing backlinks and the anchor text pointing to other pages. So fast forward to today, when anchor text is misused, you’ll get a penalty and head down in online rankings.
Long story short, if too many pages link to yours with the identical anchor text, it may look suspicious and indicate that you didn’t acquire these links naturally. For instance, if you have 100 inbound links and 99 use the same anchor text, it will look suspicious. Sometimes you cannot prevent other websites from using identical anchor text. For example, if you wrote an SEO guide in 2022, unsurprisingly, many websites will use the “SEO guide” as an anchor text to link to your guide. However, when you use it on your website, you can use a variety of anchor texts such as “SEO practices,” “SEO techniques,” “optimizing your website,” etc.
Google aims to provide users with relevant answers and pages on the internet, so unsurprisingly, it also checks for the relevance of used links, the anchor text, and your web page. Thus, the best strategy is to use descriptive words for your anchor text that match the page’s topic you are linking. If you use words like click here, read more, or learn more, it’ll be much more challenging to determine the context of linked pages and understand their relevance to the topic. Although sometimes generic anchor text is helpful, it’s usually better to use exact or descriptive anchor text.
Although backlinks are crucial, and Google might prefer exact anchor text, a variety of anchor text phrases is better than having the same keyword each time you get a link to a particular page. Even though you can’t control or manipulate external links, it’s good to keep variety in mind when using internal linking.
It’s crucial not to overdo with keyword-heavy, exact anchor texts while linking internally. When too many links use the exact anchor text to your page, Google might see them as spammy even when you use them for internal link-building.
Anchor texts improve user experience, but only when you make them distinguishable. If they are blended in the text and users can’t quickly scan them, they won’t be helpful. The best practice to help readers see the links is to make them stand out from the text by using different colors and underlining them.
Although there’s no exact recommended length of anchor texts, Google recommends writing short texts instead of long sentences and paragraphs for the anchor text. Likewise, don’t write lengthy link text such as sentences or short paragraphs.
When you link to several external sources, make sure not to use the same text for each page but a variety of anchor texts. If all these pages offer the same information, it indicates redundant information. On the other hand, if they don’t provide the same information, why use the identical anchor text to direct users to these pages?
Anchor text matters as long as SEO does. In simple terms, if you want Google to like your page, then you should use anchor texts accordingly, especially when linking internally to your pages. Anchor text can significantly impact search engine rankings, and it helps Google better understand the context of a page that is being linked to and the page that uses the anchor text. It also enhances the user experience and helps readers navigate between pages, so anchor text remains crucial for SEO. If you need help navigating the technical challenges of SEO and building a backlink strategy, reach out to Internet Marketing Geeks! We’ve got the team you need to rank on Google with the ideal backlink strategy.