Anchor text refers to the text (made up of words and other characters) highlighted in a content page which links to another page or site. It is usually colored blue and clickable, although variations in color may be done through CSS or HTML.
The right or wrong usage of anchor of texts in your own pages has huge implications for SEO.
By ensuring that you employ only the best practices in anchor text placements and links, you also guarantee the best optimization results for your pages and overall site.
Here are five important ways that anchor text affects SEO— for good or for bad.
#1 Anchor Texts and Google’s Algorithm
Google’s Penguin algorithm (which was first rolled out in 2012 and has been updated almost yearly with iterations up to 2016) contains useful guidelines on how to use anchor texts and linking strategies.
The Penguin algorithm focuses largely on backlinks and the many ways Google evaluates them as basis for page ranking. Any black-hat or gray-hat technique used in relation to anchor texts and linking will potentially result in a Google penalty. Clearly, this will not be good for SEO or search engine optimization.
With Google seriously focused on bringing the best possible user experience, anchor texts are definitely not exempt. Anchor texts, thus, have to form a natural part of the website or its individual pages and blogs. They must be visible in places where users are bound to focus on.
This is how anchor texts bring more value to your audience and site visitors.
Anchor texts, furthermore, are not just one type. The smart use of the different types of anchor texts allows you to get the most out of your linking strategies.
It is recommended that you use a combination of exact/partial match keywords, branded, website name, naked URLs, and generic anchor texts in your content.
#2 Anchor Text and Keyword Density
Given the different types of anchor texts, you are not simply limited to using keywords as anchor texts. This is important, especially because Google’s Penguin algorithm doesn’t look too kindly on keyword-heavy and repetitive anchor texts.
Moz.com emphasizes the risks of using similar anchor texts throughout the page. This could indicate, for instance,that linking efforts were not done naturally or ethically.
A more natural structure and placement of anchor texts as well as keyword variety (exact or partial-match keywords) are recommended.
Keyword stuffing is a no-no when it comes to SEO. The same thing is not encouraged in terms of anchor text usage.
#3 Anchor Text and Target Page Relevancy
Just because you are able to use anchor texts doesn’t mean that you can link to whatever site or page that strikes your fancy. Target page relevance is crucial when you are trying to optimize your site for the search engines.
The rule is that your links should lead your reader to relevant pages which relate to your topic or main keywords. This is how your anchor texts and links will be able to bring more value to users’ overall experience within your site.
The manner by which your anchor texts are worded also plays a crucial role in your page or site’s ranking. Your anchors — the highlighted texts themselves — must be related to your content or topic, as the use of unrelated anchors may possibly impact rankings negatively.
#4 Expectation Setting
While SEO is being done to ensure the optimal ranking of pages in the SERPs (search engine results pages), it is also highly crucial in improving user experiences.
Because the anchor texts are highlighted, colored, and underlined, they easily stand out within an entire page of content. They somehow set an expectation for users — if they click on the highlighted text, they will be taken to a site or page that will further their knowledge of a topic or subject matter.
The Nielsen Norman Group states that a link is a promise, and when this promise is fulfilled, trust and credibility are fostered.
When links point to “spammy” or unreliable sites, on the other hand, trust or credibility may be compromised.
#5 Content Marketing Tool
Anchor texts are great for internal linking, which is another way for you to highlight the value of your site and make users potentially spend more time on your pages. When you link to relevant pages from within your site, you bring more information and value to the table.
It is the anchor texts — along with the overall value of your content — that can help your audience decide whether to click on the links or not.
Ideally, anchor texts should be clear, concise, and relevant. Clarity and conciseness take into account the best way to describe the linked content, while relevancy ensures connectivity between the linked-to page and the overall subject matter.
If you employ content marketing as part of your organic SEO efforts, the optimal use of anchor texts is more than necessary.
Anchor Texts’ Importance in SEO
The role of anchor texts in influencing your SEO outputs for better or for worse is very clear.
The Penguin algorithm keeps these anchor text and linking safeguards in place, ensuring that best practices are employed at all times, both for optimal ranking results and user experience.
Minimal as they may seem, anchor texts have to bring more value to your site instead of taking value away from it.
This is how anchor text usage contributes positively to a website’s overall SEO strategy even for the long-term.