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5th August 2020

A complete guide to anchor text

When exploring the world of online content, you’ll come across lots of technical terms and industry jargon. SEO, guest post service, keywords. Another one is anchor text.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or lost already, we’ve got your back. In this article, we’ll outline what anchor texts are, ways you can use them, and how to start link building.

This is the first step to growing your site, so get excited!

What is anchor text?

We have to start with the basics. Anchor text is just the text that contains a hyperlink. For this hyperlink, the word ‘this’ is the anchor text. This usually appears as blue and underlined, but may vary depending on how the code is edited.

It really is that simple – you’ve probably used hundreds of pieces of anchor text in your time without even knowing what the official term was.

But despite the simplicity, it’s definitely possible to get anchor texts right or wrong. That’s why we want to examine this concept in a little more detail.

What is anchor text used for?

You might think anchor text is just a random word or phrase you attach a hyperlink to because, well, you have to link it to something. That’s not quite true.

Just like alt text and meta descriptions, anchor text is another way of providing context to search engines.

Using anchor text correctly forms part of a solid SEO strategy. If your anchor text is a keyword related to the page you’re linking to, it demonstrates the purpose of your page to search engines.

But don’t just take our word for it, listen to what Google has to say: Google uses alt text along with computer vision algorithms and the contents of the page to understand the subject.’ Although it’s referring to alt text for images here, the same thing applies to all anchor text.

Unfortunately, we can’t control how other websites who link back to our site use their anchor links. That’s one advantage of using a link building service to get it right.

Types of anchor text

Although all anchor text serves the same purpose, it can take a few distinct forms. Here are some of the most common anchor text strategies.

Exact-match anchor text

When the anchor text is a perfect match for the keyword of the page linked to, it’s an exact-match anchor text. Using the anchor text 'blogger outreach agency' to a webpage about blogger outreach agencies is a perfect example.

Partial-match

One step removed from this is using anchor text that’s a variation of the keyword on the linked page, but not a perfect match.

Here, you might use the anchor text ‘link building agency’ to a page about how to find the perfect link building agency for you. This is a more common approach.

Branded

This is another common one. If we namedrop ourselves and include a link to our homepage, that’s branded anchor text: WooContent.

Naked link

Including the entire URL is naked anchor text. For example, www.woocontent.com. Yes, we just name-dropped ourselves again, and we’re not ashamed of it.

Generic

You might not use a related keyword at all, and opt for a generic phrase instead, like ‘click here’ or just ‘here’.

We recommend using something more imaginative than ‘click here’ in your content, but that’s generic anchor text for you.

Images

You might have assumed anchor text only ever refers to hyperlinked text. It’s a fair assumption given the name, but images can contain anchor text, too.

Search engines use the alt attribute of the image as the anchor text by default.

SEO best practices

Now you know how important anchor text is, we bet you want to know how to use it properly. Here are a few tips, tricks, and best practices for you to follow.

In a nutshell, your anchor text should be short, relevant, and feature a low keyword density. Now, let’s look at each point in greater detail.

Keep it short

How often do you see an entire sentence hyperlinked as anchor text? Not very often, and when it does happen, it looks unprofessional.

Be succinct and try to limit your anchor text to a few words at most. Think ‘link building agency’ instead of ‘agency that helps you build links’.

Target page relevance

Now onto the more technical stuff. To harness the full potential of anchor text, you need to think about finding the most relevant and effective keywords.

Search engines compare and assess pages for their relevancy. For example, if we included a link to another highly relevant article about anchor text, search engines would recognise this and reward both pages with a higher search ranking.

Both the anchor text and the content on the pages determine relevancy.

Likewise, links leading to irrelevant content can result in negative SEO. That’s why you need to be careful that your results don’t backfire when taking part in link building and guest posting.

Most of the time, following basic common sense principles will ensure you do just fine.

Low keyword density

Keeping things relevant with the right keywords is important, but don’t go overboard. Google is getting smarter every day, and the Penguin update penalised links that seem suspicious or inorganic.

If you write an article with dozens of inbound links to your website and they all contain the same or related anchor text, you’re unlikely to fool Google. There’s no magic number for how many links are acceptable, so use your own judgement. If the number of links is interrupting the user and reader experience, you probably went too far.

Not every single anchor text has to be an exact or partial match. Keeping your writing engaging is important, too.

Get help with your SEO content

Anchor text: it’s such a simple concept, but there’s so much nuance surrounding its correct use. If this is all sounding like a lot of technicality and hassle, you don’t have to go it alone.

Using a link building service is a great way to grow your website or business without having to worry about keeping up to date with the latest SEO developments.

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