Anchor Text (© Oatawa / Fotolia.com)
Anchor text refers to the clickable text in a hyperlink that appears in online content, such as a blog post. The text is usually blue in color and is underlined. The anchor text should be relevant to the page that is being linked to. Search engines are constantly changing the rules and regulations in regard to the best practices for SEO. Change to algorithms, such as Google’s Penguin update, has changed the entire shape of back linking. One of the most important elements of a back link is anchor text.
Anchor Text Defined
Anchor text is the link text that appears in content on the web, such as a blog post or an article. The text contains a hyperlink, or a website link, which directs readers to another location when they click on it, such as another webpage, or another website. For instance, the owner of a website may include an anchor text that contains a hyperlink within a blog post, and that hyperlink will link back to another page on his or her website. Alternatively, an anchor text could be used to reference an article or a document as a source that an author used for information. The text is usually underlined and blue in color, though the color and underlining can be changed via html code. An example of a sentence that contains anchor text would be, “You can find a description of an anchor text on Wikipedia.” In this sentence, the anchor text is Wikipedia.
How to Create an Anchor Text
There are three ways that you can insert an anchor text into content. The first and easiest involves composing a document on a word processing program, such as Microsoft word. Highlight the text that you want to turn into an anchor text, right click on the highlighted text, and select “hyperlink” from the menu that appears. Simply type in or paste the hyperlink into the address section of the new box menu that appears when you select “hyperlink”. The link will automatically be interested into the portion of the text that you highlighted.
If you are using a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress, and you are writing your content directly into the system, you can create a hyperlink by highlighting the text that you want to use as an anchor text. Click the “link” icon located in the toolbar and select “insert link” on the dropdown menu. Type in the address for the webpage or the document you want to use as a hyperlink or paste it into the provided space. The hyperlink will be inserted into the text that you highlighted.
The third way of creating an anchor text involves using an HTML code:
<a href=http://www.anchortext.com>Anchor Text</a>
*note that the website URL provided above is intended to be an example, not an actual link to a webpage.*
Types of Anchor Texts
There are several different types of anchor text and in order to use them appropriately, it is important to have firm understanding of each type. Being knowledgeable about the different types of anchor text will allow you to create a link profile for your website or blog that contains a variety of anchors, which will help you achieve a better page rank.
The different types of anchor text include the following:
- Branded anchor text. This type of anchor text refers to any type of anchor that features a brand name within the text. For example, a link to a well-known retailer or electronic manufacturer would feature the name of the organization within the anchor text. For example, Best Buy would be the anchor that links to a product page on their website. This is the safest types of anchor text to use; that is, unless the website it links to is an exact match domain.
- Exact match anchor text. These are the most important types of anchor text, as they play a key role in increasing your page rank. This type of anchor text is an exact match of your targeted keyword; for example, if your target keyword is “SEO services”, your anchor text would also be “SEO services” and would perhaps link to a page on your website that explains the types of search engine optimization services you offer.
- Partial match anchor text. This type of anchor text features a variation of a keyword you are targeting and links to a page you are targeting. An example if you are linking to a page that explains SEO services, a partial match keyword might be “best SEO services”.
- Branded and keyword anchor text. An anchor text that features a brand name and a targeted keyword is considered a branded and keyword anchor text. For example, if Best Buy were targeting the keyword “computers”, a branded and keyword anchor text that they might use would be “computers at Best Buy”.
- Naked link anchor text. As the name suggests, with this type of anchor text, the URL of a page is input into the text. For example, https://bestbuy.com/ would be considered a naked link anchor text.
- Image anchor text. If you are really interested in diversifying your anchor profile, you might want to consider using an image anchor text. As the name implies, this type of anchor text involves linking an image. Google uses the text that is featured in the alt attribute of the image as the anchor text.
- Generic anchor text. A generic anchor text is a traditional anchors that feature a generic phrase or word, such as “click here”, “go here”, or “sign up”. These generic phrases or words have a link added to them that direct a reader to a page where they might “sign up” for a mailing list or “click here” to learn more about a product.
- Latent semantic indexing anchor text. Also referred to as LSI, latent semantic indexing are the variations of a main keyword, or synonyms of a keyword. For example, if your target keyword is “clothing store”, an LSI keyword might be “online clothing store” or “clothing shop”. Searches that are related to an LSI keyword can be seen at the end of the search engine ranking page for queries.
- Long tail anchor text. A long tail anchor text is much like a partial match anchor text; however, the two differ in that long tail anchors are longer than partial match anchors. An example of a long tail anchor text for the keyword “link building” might be “using anchor text is a vital element used in link building”, or “page rankings are based on link building”.
Other, less frequently used anchor texts that could have an impact on your search engine optimization efforts include:
- Author anchor text. As the name suggests, with this type of anchor text, the author of the blog post or article will be used as the anchor text. The link within the anchor text might direct readers back to other content that you have written, for example.
- Title tag anchor text. This is another self-explanatory anchor text. It involves using the title of a page as an anchor text. Commonly, a title tag anchor text is also a partial match anchor text.
Anchor Texts and Improved Rankings
So, how exactly do anchor texts improve rankings for websites and blogs? There are several benefits of using anchor text that are related to search engine optimization.
First and foremost, conducting keyword research and doing on-page optimization are extremely important in online marketing, as both can have a positive impact on your search engine ranking. In other words, when you compose a blog post or an article, it should contain keywords that you are targeting, and those keywords should be relevant. Furthermore, those keywords should be used as anchor text.
Additionally, when website owners and blog operators use anchor text to link to other information – web pages, articles, etc – can have a positive impact on your search engine ranking. For that reason, it is important to use anchor text in your writing. A common mistake that marketers make is simply using generic anchor text, such as “click here” or “find more information here”. Though generic anchor texts can be useful once in a while, they do not add a lot of technical value to search engines. A better way to link to other pages or articles would be to use various types of anchor text – the most important of which is a branded anchor text.
Google Penguin Update and Anchor Text
In 2012, Google first implemented their Penguin update. This update eliminated the use of excessive optimization. Since the implementation of the Penguin update, the best practices for optimizing anchor text has continued to evolve. We will highlight some of the best practices for optimizing anchor text later on in this article.
The introduction of the first Penguin update – Penguin 1.0 – rocked the SERPs, impacting an estimated 3 percent of all search queries in the most popular languages that are users use to search, such as English, Chinese, and German. Since the first Penguin update, there have been several other updates, including:
- Penguin 1.1, which was implemented in May of 2012
- Penguin 1.2, which was introduced in October of 2012
- Penguin 2.0 was introduced in May of 2013
- Penguin 2.1 was implemented in October of 2013
- Penguin 3.0 was implemented in October of 2014
- Penguin 4.0, which was introduced in September of 2016
Since Google releases their Penguin updates on a periodic basis, many experts in search engine optimization, as well as marketers, use the gaps between updates to their advantage. They do so by increasing SERPs by using anchor text practices that are considered gray-hat; for example, using targeted anchor text and link building that is considered low-quality. Using these practices results in penalization.
In order to avoid being penalized and getting the most out of anchor texts, it is important to follow the anchor text guidelines that are set forth by the Google’s Penguin updates. Furthermore, you should avoid using anchor text practices that are considered extremely aggressive. Since Google constantly updates Penguin, they will eventually come out with a new update, so using bad practices will eventually lead to penalization that will have a negative impact on SERPs.
How Google’s Penguin Update Works
The way in which the Penguin update works is pretty easy:
- A website owner or blog post owner builds a backlink.
- Google then indexes the backlink.
- Google adds the backlink directly into its database for your specific blog post or website. This is also referred to as your “link profile”.
The above-mentioned steps are repeated continuously, and in doing so, you will receive a link profile that can be analyzed by the Penguin algorithm. As Penguin analyzes your link profile, it compares it to the keyword optimization on your site.
Note that if the content on your page is optimized for “SEO services” and all of the anchor text on your site is “SEO services”, you will receive a penalty. The reason for the penalty? – Google sees that you are aiming to rank for SEO services and that you are artificially building links.
Best Strategies for Anchor Text Optimization
As mentioned, over-optimizing your anchor texts can result in penalties. In order to avoid being penalized, it’s important to follow the best practices for optimizing our anchor texts as set forth by Google.
If you want to ensure that you are using the best strategies for optimizing your anchor texts and get the most out of using them (increasing your SERPs), consider using the following strategies:
- Make sure your anchor text is relevant. In order for anchor texts to be beneficial and to get the most out of them, it’s important that they are relevant to the content that they are featured in. The more relevant your content is to the keyword you are targeting and anchoring, the most positive the impact will be on your ranking. As an example, if you are targeting the keyword “SEO services”, compose an article that focuses on different SEO services and how using such services can be beneficial. As another example, if you are targeting the keyword “house cleaning services in New York”, composing a blog post or an article that focuses on how readers can locate the best house cleaning services in New York would yield much better results than writing a general piece of content that pertains to house cleaning.
- Avoid linking to negative sites. Always make sure that the anchor text you are using doesn’t link to negative sites just so that you can receive linkbacks from those sites. Negative sites would include those that are considered spammy. If you do, Google will penalize you and your ranking could be negatively impacted. Instead, make sure that you are linking to authority sites in your anchor text. This practice is extremely beneficial to your search engine optimization efforts and Google will reward you for your efforts. Furthermore, make sure that the sites you are linking to through your anchor text are relevant to your specific niche.
- Use different types of anchors – and do so wisely. Using different types of anchor text is important for your SEO efforts, but make sure that you are distributing those anchors appropriately. It is difficult to determine exactly what Google considers the best distribution of anchor texts, but it appears that the following distribution of anchor text would consist of the following:
- 40 percent branded anchor text
- 25 percent unique or other types of anchor text
- 15 percent naked link anchor text
- 5 percent partial match anchor text
- 5 percent branded and keyword anchor text
- No more than 5 percent generic anchor text
- No more than 4 percent long tail anchor text
- Less than 1 percent for exact match anchor text
OpenPR-Tip: To guide you on the best distribution of anchor texts, it can be helpful to do some research and gain an understanding of how the sites that have the best performance in your industry are distributing their anchor texts.
- Don’t input internal links with keyword-rich anchor text. Though internal linking can be extremely beneficial, you should avoid doing so with anchor text that is keyword-rich. Utilizing a high volume of anchor text that is keyword-rich can negatively impact your link profile. Instead, healthily spread your anchor text throughout a sentence. For example, if your target keyword is “SEO services,” instead of using “benefits of SEO services” as your anchor text, try using something like, “discover the benefits of using SEO services.” In other words, you should generate a long anchor and spread your keywords throughout it.
- Keep track of your anchor texts. When it comes to building backlinks, keeping track of the anchor text that you have used is vital. If you don’t, you won’t be able to understand exactly what it is that you are doing. To get the most out of your anchor text and SEO efforts, it is important that you are organized, so as to ensure that you aren’t over-optimizing your page (remember that over-optimizing can lead to serious penalties). To keep track of your anchor texts, you could simply create a spreadsheet on Excel or Google, or you can take advantage of one of the anchor text monitoring tools that are out there.
- Gain your links from the proper sites. Even though it is an important to consider, we aren’t talking about relevancy. Instead, we are talking about the right site. As stated above, linking to authoritative sites that are relevant to your niche is vital to your link profile. Focus on acquiring links from highly authoritative sites that have a lot of traffic. Sites that have a domain authority above 30, a page authority above 35, and a trust flow of at least 10 is ideal.
- Compose guest blog posts that are relevant. A lot of people are under the assumption that writing guest posts is no longer a useful strategy; however, that couldn’t further from the truth. Guest posts are still an effective way to build a powerful link profile. When writing guest posts, aim to work with domains that have a strong presence and input two tier links into your post. Doing so will give you the most optimal results. When you are setting out to launch a guest post campaign, look for and use domains that have a domain authority of at least 30. Inputting partial match or LSI anchors into your guest posts would be ideal. Furthermore, though it is pretty obvious, it is worth mentioning that composing guest posts that pertain to topics that are related to your niche is important. Additionally, make sure that you are using citations.
- Input anchor text where they are the most visible to readers. It is a known fact that instead of reading content, they skim over it; particularly the first few pages of an article or a blog post. As such, it would make sense to place your anchor texts within the portions of a blog post or article that readers will be the most likely to see – such as in the first two paragraphs or in headings. Though you don’t have to be extremely focused on this tactic, it can certainly help to increase engagement and your click-through rate.
Summing it Up
Anchor texts are a highly effective and a necessary tool for search engine optimization. However, it is important to remember that due to Penguin, optimization practices do evolve. As such, paying very close attention to the Penguin updates and modifying your strategies so that they keep current with the updates and best practices that are set forth by those updates, you will be able to get the most out of using anchor text, and thus, you will increase your search engine ranking.
In order to get noticed by your audience, it is important that you make sure you always stay on Google’s best side. If you try to manipulate the system, you will be penalized, so it using “tricky” strategies just isn’t worth it. Instead, make sure that you use the tips and strategies listed above and that you remain current with the changes that Google implements with each of their Penguin updates. Using natural keywords, linking to authoritative sites that are relevant to your niche, and using a variety of anchors will help to improve your ranking in the long run.