When it comes to the nitty-gritty of SEO best practices, there are hundreds of moving parts that at first glance might seem minor or unimportant, but in the aggregate, when leveraged correctly will pay dividends in a big way. One of those is anchor text. Proper anchor text use boosts the power of your website pages, with improper use, you’re leaving search traffic, and money, on the table. This time on the Helix House Blog, we are answering what is anchor text and why it matters so damn much!
Put simply, the anchor text is the visible and clickable text of a link. For most sites, it’ll appear in a different color (often blue) and be underlined. There we’ve covered it!
Psyche! That wouldn’t be terribly useful now, would it? What anchor text does in the context of SEO is the bigger piece of the puzzle.
Good anchor text tells the reader what the link is about. It’s giving context to where that link leads to so that the reader knows beforehand if it is something they are interested in researching further. In the same way, it helps readers understand what the page is about, it also signals to search engines the same thing. As Google crawls the internet it finds links pointing to a page on Nike shoes with the anchor text “the best shoes.” Now Google understands that maybe when people talk about the best shoes, they’re looking for Nike. (Also, whoever is writing the article thinks that the Nikes on the destination page are indeed, the best shoes.)
When done right it gives the reader context and helps search engines categorize the page.
Now, believe it or not, there are actually different kinds of anchor text. The phrase that is visible for the link could be a number of different things and give all sorts of different information both to the reader and to search engines.
There’s also another variety of different anchor texts that are based around keywords
Now, there’s power in using the right kind of anchor text for the right situation. It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out — write relevant anchor text, make sure the link itself is useful and not jammed in. As for the text, it should be clear, natural, and give any needed context to what the link heads to. Read it aloud, if it sounds choppy or artificial then it isn’t helping you any.
Point links over with the exact keyword tells search engines that that URL being linked is heavily focused on that keyword, giving it more relevancy and potentially increasing the URLs placement on results pages.
Inversely, using generic anchor text doesn’t give any guidance to search engines nor the readers who might be interested in following that link over (if only they knew where the link would take them!). If it’s a dofollow link it will still give a bit of the ol’ link juice but it’s just not the same.
It’s important to have a good balance of different anchor text and links! If every link pointing to your page across the internet was the focused keyword, it would look artificial and strange. But a mix of say 7 non-targeted keyword anchor text uses to 3 targetted keywords anchor texts will give you a natural, healthy mix.
And remember, if the link doesn’t further the understanding of your users then don’t use it! If it is relevant, make sure that your readers understand its value with relevant anchor text. Your users will benefit, and your site’s performance will reflect that. Use anchor text well and you’ll be giving your audience the guidance they need to find the information they want, and search engines will reward you for having such a well put together website. Nice!