What is anchor text?
Anchor text is a hyperlinked text used in HTML. It’s a clickable text with a reference to another document on a web. Usually, it is blue and underlined what differs it from other text on the website.
Example: This link to Mangools blog has the anchor text “Mangools blog”.
In the HTML code, it looks like this:
<a href="http://www.mangools.com/blog/">Mangools blog</a>
The point of anchor text should be to inform the reader about what is the linked page about, so they know what to expect. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Anchor text and SEO
Because anchor text is an inevitable part of a (back)link, it’s an important part of SEO. In general, anchor text helps search engines to understand the context and what is the linked website about.
So if it’s “Tasty pizza recipe”, search engines understand the referred page is about pizza recipes.
In most of the cases, you can’t influence the anchor text of your backlinks. You can do so as part of an internal linking or when doing a targeted link building campaign.
Anchor text optimization
First of all, don’t over optimize! Search engines don’t like that and if too many of your backlinks will have optimized anchor texts such, i.e. too much keyword optimization, your website may be penalized by Google.
As mentioned earlier, you can’t always influence the anchor text because of earning backlinks without even knowing, but that doesn’t mean you will outreach 1000 webmasters to give you a backlink with the identical one.
Likewise, make sure your internal links have both natural and optimized anchors.
Best practices for anchor text optimization
- Don’t over optimize by using too many keywords.
- If possible try to avoid generic and click bait anchors such as “click here”.
- Be natural, don’t try to stuff your brand or keywords on purpose.
- Keep the anchor text relevant to the content on the website where it’s placed.
- Make sure it’s easy to find out what is the linked website about.
- Link to websites that go deep into the topic instead of homepage.
- Differ the anchor texts from other text on the website.
- If adding a new anchor text to an existing article, it’s a good idea to add at least a small piece of new content.
Types of anchor text:
When the brand is used as the anchor text, such as “Mangools” linking to the Mangools website.
The anchor text is basically the URL: “mangools.com” or even “https://mangools.com/”. This kind of anchor is not much user-friendly depending on the context.
The exact keyword is used as the anchor text. For example, “SEO tools” points to a website about SEO tools.
In this case, part of the keyword or its variant is used: “cheap SEO tools” or “easy to use SEO tools”.
Generic anchors don’t help users to find out what is the linked website about. The most usual ones are “click here”, “read more” or “this page”.
Search engines use the image alt attribute text as anchor whenever the image is linked to a website. The alt text should follow the same trend as anchor texts.
When it comes to the overall relevancy of anchor texts, here is the answer by John Mueller from Google:
Yes, but anchor text (and image alt text) helps us quite a bit in understanding context, so I wouldn’t leave it out if you can avoid it.
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) May 15, 2017
Anchor text distribution best practices
The golden rule is “Keep it natural”. There are various studies that provide exact numbers or percentage ranges that each type of anchor texts should have.
In most of the cases, around 50% of anchors should be branded. The other 50% distributes among naked URLs, partial and exact keyword matches and generic anchors.
When it comes to the best practices they are exactly the same as the best practices for anchor text optimization.
To find out the distribution of your anchor texts, use tools such as SiteProfiler.