Anchor text is a hot topic in the SEO industry and has become an increasingly important signal for search engines when it comes to ranking certain pages. But what exactly is it and why is it important for SEO?
This helpful guide explains what anchor text is, the different types, how to use it and why it’s important in SEO.
What is Anchor Text
Anchor text is the bit of text that you click on a hyperlink. Website design usually makes it clear within content by underlining it or changing the colour of the text.
Anchor text provides context as to where the link will take you and therefore helps inform users what the page is going to be before they click through.
Anchor text is used on every hyperlink, so it’s valuable to understand how to use it for both internal and external linking.
The code for anchor text looks like this:
According to Google, you should use descriptive phrases that provide context for the material that you’re linking to.
Why Anchor Text is Important for SEO
Anchor text is the first piece of information about a page that the user (and search engines) will see before clicking a link, meaning it needs to clearly describe what the page is.
This helps both user experience and rankings because you’re helping guide the user through the website, but also helping inform the search engines what the page is about so that they can rank it for relevant keywords.
Optimising your internal link anchor text is a common way of informing users and search engines what the target page is about, which in turn helps with ranking those target pages. But, did you know you can optimise the anchor text in your digital PR outreach?
Optimising your anchor text within your digital PR outreach can also help bolster your keyword performance if you land backlinks that feature keyword anchor text. For example, within your press releases link to the target page (e.g. a category page or blog) using the target keyword instead of linking the brand name. Journalists aren’t always going to use this as their anchor text, but you’re encouraging them from the get-go to do so which can improve the amount of keyword links you land.
The Different Types of Anchor Text
According to different SEO blogs there are at least six different types of anchor text, but these can be split up into smaller categories (such as Semrush’s eight anchor text types).
The six main types cover:
Anchor text is classed as an exact-match if it includes a keyword that mirrors the target page. For example, ‘measuring the impact of digital PR’ linking to our blog about measuring the impact of digital PR.
Anchor text is classed as a partial-match if it includes a variation of the keyword on the target page. For example, ‘digital PR measuring’ linking to our blog about measuring the impact of digital PR.
Branded anchor text is when the anchor text is just the brand name. For example ‘NORTH’ linking to any page on the NORTH website.
A naked link is when the url itself is used as the anchor text. For example, ‘wearenorth.uk’ would be a naked anchor text.
Generic anchor texts are usually the phrases or words that provide no context. For example linking ‘click here’ or ‘read more’.
Often images are used as a hyperlink, in this case Google uses the alt text as anchor text.
These are the main types of anchor text, but they can be split into more specific anchor text types such as ‘Branded + Keyword’ which includes both branded and broad/partial-match within the anchor text.
There’s also Related anchor text which uses semantically similar keywords as the anchor text instead. For example, ‘digital PR metrics’ linking to our blog about measuring the impact of digital PR.
If you’re an avid Semrush user, you’ll find that a Semrush backlink analysis will show you your website’s anchor text split. If you run a backlink audit it will also tell you if you have too many branded keywords, or too many of the same anchor text which can be useful for planning your anchor text catalogue.
How to Use Anchor Text + Best Practices
The first, and most important point when it comes to using anchor text, is that it’s relevant to the page. This informs both the user and the search engine what the page is about and is key to improving rankings and user experience.
It’s also recommended that you use varying anchor text for each target page, using the same anchor text can be spammy. So a mix of broad-match, partial-match and related anchor text can be a useful way to vary your anchor text but also target relevant keywords for your page.
We don’t always have control over what anchor text is used when building backlinks, but we can guide people to use a specific anchor text by making sure we link what we’d like as our anchor text within press releases and onsite content. You also don’t need to be afraid to ask in your outreach to link a specific part of your content if journalists decide to publish your content.
Lastly, don’t make your anchor text really long, a few words is fine and looks more natural than linking a whole sentence. You should also write your anchor text naturally, don’t force keywords into it and make sure it sounds right within your sentence.
Anchor text optimisation should be utilised across all three pillars of SEO (tech, content and digital PR). You want your internal links and backlinks to inform search engines and your users what it is each of your pages is about before they even click through.
Our top anchor text tips include:
Use your keyword research to inform your anchor text
Make sure your anchor text provides context about the target page
Keep your anchor text natural
Encourage keyword links in your outreach
Vary your anchor text
Keep anchor text short and sweet
Use an SEO tool to analyse your anchor text types
Not sure what your anchor text profile currently looks like? Or, are you in need of some help optimising your anchor text? Here at NORTH, we offer a range of SEO services. Get in touch with us today.