What Is Anchor Text? Boost Your SEO with Smart Links

Graphic asking "What Is Anchor Text?" with a drawing of an anchor

By Melissa Ng   |   Last Updated 6 May 2024

Understanding Anchor Text For Better SEO

What Is Anchor Text?

Text with coloured and underlined anchor text
This example shows how anchor text is coloured and underlined in a blog post to aid SEO

Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink, usually shown in a different colour and underlined. It helps users navigate and is vital for SEO, as it tells both people and search engines what the page linked to is about. Think of it as a guide to what’s on the other side of the link.

Why Is Anchor Text Important For Search Rankings?

Chart showing SEO progress over time with anchor points
A chart illustrating SEO progress over time, highlighting the importance of anchor text

Anchor text is essential if you want to improve your search engine rankings. It alerts search engines like Google to what the linked page concerns, enhancing the relevance of your content.

Using the right keywords in your anchor text can influence how well your page ranks. Moreover, accurate and relevant anchor text makes your site more inviting to search engines. Smartly used, it directs users and search algorithms to the high-quality content you offer.

Types Of Anchor Texts: How To Choose The Right One

Exact Match vs. Partial Match

Infographic comparing exact match and partial match anchor text for SEO
This infographic explains the differences between exact match and partial match anchor text and their impact on SEO

Choosing between exact match and partial match anchor texts involves careful consideration.

An exact match anchor text uses the specific keywords you want to rank for, such as ‘custom leather boots’ linking to a page that sells those items.

On the other hand, partial-match anchor texts include your keywords along with other words, like ‘check out these amazing custom leather shoes.’

Exact matches can boost your SEO if used sparingly, but partial matches often sound more natural and help avoid the risk of over-optimisation while still guiding search engines effectively.

Moderation is crucial with exact matches. Use them wisely and keep most of your anchor texts as partial and varied to appear more natural.

Branded, Naked URLs, And Generic Anchors

Infographic showing branded, naked, and generic anchor text types
An infographic illustrating branded, naked, and generic types of anchor text and their uses in SEO

It’s important to know the differences between branded, naked URLs, and generic anchor texts:

Branded anchor texts incorporate your brand name into the link. It’s like showing your business card online, useful for strengthening your brand.

Naked URLs display the full HTTP address, such as “https://appsalon.com.au”. They are straightforward, showing exactly where the link will take you, which is great for clarity and transparency.

Generic anchors use common terms like ‘click here’ or ‘read more’. They are vague, directing to content without specifics, serving to keep things simple.

Each type of anchor text has its purpose, from enhancing transparency with naked URLs to reinforcing your brand or keeping links simple with generic terms. Use them thoughtfully to create a well-rounded and natural link profile.

Best Practices For Effective Anchor Text

Infographic showing best practices for anchor text including clarity, natural use, and avoiding unclear phrases and keyword stuffing
This infographic outlines best practices for anchor text, focusing on clarity, natural use, and avoiding keyword stuffing

Keep Links Relevant And Clear

To improve your anchor text, start by ensuring it’s relevant and clear. Each link should clearly indicate what’s on the linked page. For example, if you’re linking to a guide on “how to bake a cheesecake,” the anchor text should clearly reflect this.

Avoid unclear phrases like ‘click here’ or ‘this website,’ which are not only outdated but also unhelpful. Use descriptive anchor texts that let readers know what they’re clicking on, which helps build trust and adds value to their experience.

Avoid Over-Optimisation And Keep It Natural

Be cautious not to overdo it with your anchor text. Overloading anchors with keywords can turn both users and search engines away. This kind of over-optimisation could lead to penalties from search engines.

Instead, aim for a natural approach. Use a mix of exact, partial, branded, and generic anchors. Think of how you would naturally mention a link in a conversation with a friend.

While SEO is essential, it shouldn’t compromise the user experience. By keeping your anchor texts varied and natural, your links will be more effective and engaging.

How To Use Anchor Text In Your SEO Strategy

Influencing Link Quality And Profile Diversity

Diagram of a central website connected to other websites via anchor text
A visual representation of how a central website connects to other websites using anchor text

Anchor text plays a crucial role in enhancing the quality of your links and diversifying your backlink profile. High-quality links with appropriate anchor text drive traffic and credibility to your site, signalling to search engines that your content is valuable and relevant.

Diversity is key in your anchor text strategy. Using a mix of exact matches, branded links, and generic anchors shows search engines that your site is multifaceted. This variety enriches your link profile, making it appear more natural and authoritative, which helps your site gain more recognition.

Aligning Anchor Text With Your Content Strategy

Illustration of interconnected blog posts using anchor text
An illustration showing interconnected blog posts, demonstrating the use of anchor text for better SEO

Integrating your anchor text with your content strategy ensures a unified and smooth user experience. Your anchor texts should be thought of as natural extensions of your content, guiding readers through your site in a meaningful way.

Map out your content and align your anchor texts to seamlessly connect different pieces. For example, if you have a standout article, use descriptive and relevant anchor texts from other parts of your site to direct users there. This not only improves navigation but also enhances the coherence of your content, boosting both user engagement and search engine rankings.

Common Mistakes In Anchor Text Usage And How To Fix Them

Identifying And Fixing Anchor Text Spam Signals

Illustration of overloaded anchors leading to a website with a skull and crossbones, representing spammy anchor text
An illustration showing how overloaded anchor text can lead to a spammy backlink profile

Spammy anchor text often uses too many exact match keywords or makes your backlink profile look like a list of keywords rather than a natural set of links.

Watch out for too many exact match anchors or a lack of nofollow links, which can make your links seem unnatural.

If your anchor text repeats like a broken record, it’s time to adjust. Mix in more branded and generic anchors and use natural phrases that people would actually say.

Remember, not every backlink has to be perfectly optimised; sometimes, simple URL texts can signal authenticity to search engines.

Updating And Optimising Your Existing Anchor Text Links

Start by auditing your site for outdated or irrelevant anchor texts. If you find links that feel outdated or lead to 404 errors, it’s time to update them. Update them to match current content and use a variety of natural language.

If your brand or content strategy has changed, ensure your anchors reflect these changes. Fix not just the broken links but also enhance them to improve your users’ experience and make them relevant within your current content.

Start with the pages that get the most traffic and update anchors to improve relevance and diversity. This approach not only improves navigation but also keeps your site looking credible and up-to-date in the eyes of both search engines and visitors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Anchor Text Affect My Website’s SEO Negatively?

Yes, anchor text can negatively impact your site’s SEO if not used properly.

If search engines think you’re manipulating rankings by stuffing your anchor texts with keywords or using irrelevant links, they might lower your rankings.

To avoid this, always use anchor text that is relevant and natural.

How Often Should I Review And Update My Anchor Text?

You should regularly review and update your anchor text. A good practice is to check and refresh your anchor text every few months or when you make significant updates to your content. If you frequently produce content, consider reviewing your anchor text even more often to keep your links relevant and fresh.

Setting up weekly automatic reports can help you stay on top of this.

What Is Considered an ‘Over-Optimised’ Anchor Text?

‘Over-optimised’ anchor text appears too calculated and can signal to search engines that you’re trying to manipulate rankings. This typically involves using the same exact-match keywords repetitively, exclusively using phrases that target high rankings, or having too many keyword-rich links pointing to the same page.

To prevent this, use a variety of synonyms, related phrases, and some generic terms to keep your anchor text sounding natural and varied.

Melissa Ng, the Business Development & Operations Manager at AppSalon, is a versatile professional with a wealth of experience across fintech, startups, content creation, SEO, marketing, product management, and QA.

Melissa's career journey is highlighted by her seven-year tenure at Credit Savvy, a fintech startup under Commonwealth Bank. Here, she wore various hats, including product manager, content manager, operations manager, lead QA, and account manager. Her contributions led to the remarkable achievement of growing the user base from zero to over one million Australian members, in just over 5 years.

Beyond her professional achievements, Melissa embraces adventure, with interests ranging from hiking, pilates, and baking to knitting. Surprisingly, she even finds relaxation in cleaning.

Melissa Ng is a seasoned expert in the realm of digital business. With both extensive experience and commitment to excellence, Melissa endevours so that every single client receives the best possible outcome.


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