For those making their first foray into copywriting and SEO, the importance that’s placed on choosing the right anchor text can come as a bit of a surprise.
Anchor text optimisation should in fact be a key consideration for any content creator, as getting the formula right has the potential to either enhance or undermine your link building efforts dramatically.
With that in mind, here are our top tips for choosing the perfect anchor text every time.
What is anchor text?
Moz defines anchor text as the ‘visible, clickable text in a hyperlink’, which sums things up pretty neatly. In other words, it’s the string of characters that you click on in order to be transported to another web page or document.
From the perspective of a developer or content creator, a hyperlink’s HTML code will commonly take on the following form:
<a href=”http://www.anklebootemporium.com”>Ankle Boot Emporium</a>
Prior to Google’s Penguin update in 2012, relatively little attention was paid to anchor text – at least from the perspective of search engines. In the years post-Penguin however, there’s been a stamp down on the way in which anchor text is used. Once common practices such as keyword stuffing and the use of overly generic terms now have the power to seriously devalue your link profile, so choosing the right anchor text has never been so important.
Types of anchor text
Anchor text comes in many different forms, each of which tends to move in and out of favour as search engines continue to amend and update their algorithms. There are countless types of anchor text out there, however a few of the most common include:
Exact-match anchor text mirrors the target keyword on the destination URL. While a logical choice for anyone hoping to combine link building with improving their keyword rankings, exact-match anchor texts are strongly frowned upon by Google Penguin and may even lead to a penalty.
For example: <a href=”http://www.anklebootemporium.com”>women’s ankle boots</a>
Partial-match anchor texts differ from exact-match in that they’re a variation on the target keyword. Partial-match anchor text typically appears more natural than exact-match and is generally favoured by humans and search engines alike.
For example: <a href=”http://www.anklebootemporium.com”>great range of women’s ankle boots</a>
Branded anchor text does exactly what it says on the tin, utilising the brand name associated with the destination URL. It’s a common type of anchor text, yet issues may occur if your domain name itself is exact match.
For example: <a href=”http://www.anklebootemporium.com”>Ankle Boot Emporium</a>
Generic anchor text has dramatically lost favour over the last decade, but there are brands who continue to use it as a way of avoiding keyword-related penalties. It’s the “click here”, “go here” or “check it out” of the anchor text world.
For example: <a href=”http://www.anklebootemporium.com”>click here</a>
When an anchor text is simply the raw URL, it’s known as a naked link. Here the destination URL and anchor text are exactly the same.
For example: <a href=”http://www.anklebootemporium.com”>http://www.anklebootemporium.com</a>
The basic rules of anchor text
While there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing the right anchor text, there are a few best practice guidelines that are worth bearing in mind. These may differ depending on the context and style of your writing, however for the most part, anchor text should always:
Be directly relevant to the hyperlink
Click on a piece of anchor text that reads ‘women’s ankle boots’ and you wouldn’t expect to be directed to an article on fly-fishing, or vice-versa. White hat anchor text gives both users and search engines a good idea of the content behind the hyperlink, and steers clear of common clickbait tactics.
Make contextual sense
Regardless of content type or topic, the inclusion of a hyperlink should be as seamless as possible. Anchor text that’s heavily stuffed with keywords has a tendency to stick out like a sore thumb, so always keep readability and contextualisation at the forefront of your mind.
Be of an appropriate length
As well as keywords, brand names and context, the length of your anchor text is another crucial element that needs to be considered. A good variation of lengths is typically recommended when building a natural looking backlink profile.
Choosing the right anchor text can feel like a bit of a guessing game, and many brands will go through a stage of trial and error before getting the process spot on.