Anchor text: What it is & how to use it for SEO 

7 MINS
Eunice Asuncion

Anchor text might sound all fancy and techy reserved for web developers and SEO specialists, but it’s way more than that. By strategically incorporating keywords and descriptive phrases into anchor text, you can improve your website’s visibility and ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).  

What is anchor text? 

Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink that you see and click on to navigate to another page on the web. It’s a crucial element in linking strategies, especially in the context of SEO (search engine optimization), because search engines use anchor text to understand the context of the link and the content of the page it’s linking to. This information helps search engines decide how relevant and high-quality a page is, which can affect where the page appears in search results. 

Kinds of anchor text 

Let’s discuss the different kinds of anchor text you might use, especially if you have a small business website: 

Exact match 

This is when the clickable text is exactly the keyword you want a page to be found for. For instance, if you sell handmade leather wallets and want people to find your page when they search for that, you might use “handmade leather wallets” as the anchor text. 

Example: “Discover our handmade leather wallets.” 

Partial match 

Here, the anchor text includes part of the keyword or a variation of it. It’s a bit more relaxed and can still help people find your page without repeating the same exact phrase over and over. 

Example: If your keyword is “handmade leather wallets,” a partial match could be “beautiful wallets made of leather.” 

Branded 

This time, you use the name of your business as the anchor text. It’s a good way to get your brand name out there and is seen as trustworthy by search engines. 

Example: “Explore unique accessories at CraftWallets,” where “CraftWallets” is your business name. 

Generic 

These are very common phrases like “click here” or “learn more.” They don’t help much with search engine rankings since they don’t tell search engines anything about the content of the link, but they can make your website easier to navigate. 

Example: “See our full collection by clicking here.” 

Images as anchors 

Sometimes, you might use an image as a clickable link. In these cases, the description you give the image (called ALT text) is used by search engines to understand what the image link is about. This is helpful because search engines can’t see images. 

Example: If you link to your product page using a picture of a wallet, you would give that image a description like “handmade leather wallet.” 

Using different kinds of anchor text helps your website in different ways. Mixing them up is a good strategy to make sure your site comes up in search results without seeming spammy or repetitive. 

Why is anchor text important in SEO? 

For search engines like Google, anchor text helps them figure out what the linked page is about, like a hint or clue. If a link says “best chocolate cake recipe,” the search engine guesses that the page being linked to is probably about making chocolate cake. This hint helps search engines decide when to show that page in search results. 

However, it’s not only about feeding clues to search engines. It’s also about the users. The words you choose for your links should make sense to your users and help them decide if they want to click the link. For instance, a link saying “click here” doesn’t tell your visitor much about what to expect compared to a link saying “learn how to make chocolate cake,” which is much clearer and more enticing. 

Finding the right balance between making your site easy for search engines to understand and providing a good experience for your visitors is key. If your links give clear, helpful information about what’s on the other page, both search engines and users are more likely to find your content valuable. This balance is what makes anchor text a crucial part of creating a friendly and visible website. 

Best practices for optimizing anchor text 

Creating effective anchor text is a key element in optimizing your website for both users and search engines. Here are some actionable tips to craft anchor text that is clear, relevant, and avoids over-optimization. 

Be clear and descriptive 

Use anchor text that clearly describes the content of the page you’re linking to. This helps users understand what to expect when they click a link, improving their browsing experience. For example, instead of “click here,” use “discover our beginner’s guide to gardening.” 

Stay relevant 

Make sure your anchor text is directly related to the page content it links to. This relevance helps search engines understand the context of both the link and the content, which can positively influence your site’s search rankings. 

Avoid over-optimizing 

Repeatedly using the same exact-match anchor text (i.e., anchor text that matches a keyword you’re targeting exactly) can appear manipulative to search engines and may lead to penalties. Aim for a natural and varied use of phrases. 

Use a variety of anchor text types 

Including a mix of exact match, partial match, branded, generic, and LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords as anchor text can help maintain a natural and diverse link profile. This diversity signals to search engines that your site is authoritative and providing valuable content. 

Leverage branded anchor text 

Using your brand name as anchor text is a safe and effective way to build brand awareness while avoiding the pitfalls of over-optimization. 

Optimize images with ALT text 

When using images as links, make sure to include descriptive ALT text for the image. This acts as the anchor text for the image link, contributing to SEO while making your site more accessible.

Common anchor text mistakes to avoid 

Overusing exact match keywords 

Keyword stuffing anchor texts with exact match keywords can seem like a good idea for boosting SEO rankings. However, this tactic is outdated and penalized by search engines as it deteriorates the user experience and can appear manipulative. 

Tip: Use a variety of anchor text types, including branded, partial match, and natural phrases. This not only enhances readability but also aligns better with search engine guidelines, improving your site’s credibility and SEO performance. 

Using non-descriptive phrases 

Phrases like “click here” or “this website” provide little context about the destination content, which lowers the value for both users and search engines. These phrases fail to inform readers and search engines about the content being linked to. 

Tip: Ensure that anchor texts provide helpful information related to the linked content. This practice helps to manage expectations and enhances both user experience and search engine visibility. 

Using generic anchor texts 

Like non-descriptive phrases, generic anchor texts like “read more” or “learn more” are too vague. While it’s okay to use them occasionally, using them too often doesn’t help your site’s SEO.  

Tip: Try to replace generic phrases with specific descriptions of the content you’re linking to. This way, you provide more value to your readers and help search engines understand the context of the link better. 

Linking to low-quality or irrelevant sites 

Linking to sites that are not credible or relevant to your content can harm your site’s reputation and SEO rankings. 

Tip: Always link to high-quality, authoritative sites that offer value to your readers. By doing so, you can establish credibility with your audience and enhance visibility on search engines. 

Conclusion 

Using anchor text effectively can be a game-changer for your online presence. By ensuring your anchor text is clear, relevant, and descriptive, you’ll not only improve your website’s visibility on search engines but also enhance the overall user experience. This, in turn, can lead to increased trust and engagement from your visitors. 

Take the tips shared here and apply them to your own website. Make strategic changes to your anchor text to optimize your SEO efforts and create a more user-friendly browsing experience. These simple changes can have a significant impact on your online success. 

And if you’re looking for additional support in building and promoting your website, consider exploring the services offered by Web.com. Our expertise in website design, SEO, and online marketing can help you take your online presence to the next level. 

  • Eunice Asuncion

    Eunice is a Content Marketing Specialist at Web.com. With over three years of writing experience, she uses the power of valuable content to not only inform but also inspire growth and success for individuals and business owners in the digital landscape.

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