The Blogger’s Guide To Anchor Text & Its Importance
As a blogger, it’s important to know your fair share of SEO best practices. When you’re trying to get your content found on search engines, it’s often in the little details: title tags, keywords, image optimisation – and yes, anchor text. Today’s post will focus on why anchor text is so important and how to optimise it effectively, without getting penalised.
What is anchor text?
Anchor text is the clickable text that makes up a hyperlink in a piece of content – that is to say a link to another location on the internet. More often than not it’s coloured and underlined, like this: How To Go From Blogger & Writer To Entrepreneur.
The purpose of anchor text is to provide users and search engines with contextual information about where the link leads. The goal is to keep it concise and relevant. But of course, as with so much in the world of SEO, there’s often more to it than that.
The different types of anchor text
Below we’ve listed the different variations of anchor text one can use, with examples.
- Exact match: the text matches the primary keyword of the page it links to. So if you had a page about outreach linkbuilding, it would be linked as shown
- Partial match: the text includes a variation of the primary keyword. So if you had a page about SEO content, it might be linked as shown.
- Branded: this is where the brand name forms the anchor text. For instance, Mentioned.io
- Naked: this is a little like branded anchor text, except instead of Mentioned.io, you would link the URL https://mentioned.io instead
- Generic: generic anchor text is not directly related to the subject and instead uses a generic phrase like ‘click here’ or ‘this article’
- Image anchors: this is when an image contains a hyperlink. The anchor text automatically becomes the same as the image’s alt tag
So which is best?
Anchor text best practices
Anchor text optimisation best practices are always evolving, mostly as a result of Google Penguin updates (more on Google Penguin below). But the rules are relatively simple: don’t try too hard to hack the system and you should be ok. Google Penguin was created to combat attempts to manipulate rankings with spammy, over-optimised anchors – among other things.
Keep your anchor text natural and user-friendly – don’t add links where they’re not helpful or expected. Penguin’s job is to identify blatant manipulation, so unnatural anchor text raises some red flags that could harm your efforts. Likewise, if the anchor text is irrelevant to the page it links to, this provides a bad user experience, which Google strives to avoid.
What you should know about Google Penguin
Google Penguin was launched in 2012 to spot and penalise websites with unnatural offsite SEO signals. Since then, there have been numerous updates targeting those taking advantage of its loopholes, the latest being Penguin 4.0.
This release had a particular focus on anchor text ratios, with websites that had a ‘money keyword’ in 65% or more of their inbound links experiencing a dip in their rankings. Websites with few inbound links from other websites in their niche also suffered. The only ones that didn’t were those with a ‘natural’ backlink profile.
For this reason, it’s best to steer clear of using exact match anchor text too often. Instead, mix it in with other long tail keywords to create a natural partial match – or opt for branded.
Our top tips for writing anchor text
The best thing you can do when writing anchor text is to strive to be as helpful as possible. Ultimately, what you want is for the link to look appealing so users click through your website. Anchor text isn’t just about SEO: first and foremost it’s a form of signposting for visitors.
Does your anchor text encourage users to click? Is it clear what’s coming next if they do? Is it written using natural language? It’s ok to use keywords, but give them variety. Remember too that good usability is a ranking factor in itself – even with the best keyword optimisation in the world, Google will penalise you if you don’t provide a good user experience.
Use these strategies and you should find they help to boost your search rankings while protecting you from future Penguin updates. And next time you’re writing a sponsored post or linking internally within your own site, consider how your choice of anchor text might influence the outcome.