For those who aren’t very familiar with this subject, Andrew Dyhan, the Semalt Customer Success Manager, explains that anchor text refers to the clickable characters or text in a hyperlink. Often, the characters/text are in a different color from the rest of the content and is sometimes underlined. When the user clicks on an anchor text, he or she is taken to another location. You can create these anchors using HTML or CSS.
Why are anchor texts so important for SEO?
Anchor texts would probably not be as popular as they are today if they weren’t used for the purpose of backlinks. They play a great role in the use of backlinks (an important SEO ranking factor). In addition, search engines use them to penalize websites for over-optimization and spamming. This is why it’s crucial for SEO experts to clearly understand how to use anchor texts properly.
Anchor text is also useful to readers of content as it gives them an idea of what content they should expect to find in the link’s target destination.
Types of Anchor Text
There are many variations of anchor text. SEO experts can use one or a combination of the following variations to optimize their content:
- Targeted anchors: Online marketing experts involved in link building create anchor texts with keywords that match the keywords of the web page or document they are targeting. In other words, if you want to link to a site that has content about ‘kitchen renovation ideas’, you use this same key phrase in your hyperlinks.
- Generic anchor text: these are clickable links that direct you to resources that might be of help. Examples of generic anchors include “get more information here”, “click here for a free quote”, “get your free eBook here” and so on.
- Branded anchors: Branded anchors use the brand name of the site’s business as the text. They are considered as the safest type of anchor to use. That’s why big brands like Amazon will use as many branded anchor texts as possible in their content as there is a smaller probability of over-optimization.
Over-optimization is the excessive use of the same anchor text on a page or the appearance of the same text in many pages of a website. It can lead to penalization by search engines as the page is seen as spammy and not user-friendly. Over-optimization should, therefore, be avoided by all means.
- Naked link anchors: These are anchor texts that use the URL of a site to link back to it. They are simple to use but need to be well-distributed within the content. The density of naked link anchors should not exceed 15%.
- Images and ‘alt’ tag as anchors: The use of images in website content is highly acclaimed today. It helps to increase the interaction of the user with the content. When you use an image as a link to another location, you also provide a relevant ‘alt’ tag for the image. Search engines read this ‘alt’ tag as the anchor text.
- LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) anchors: LSI simply implies to the use of synonyms (not necessarily perfect synonyms) of the main keyword. They are close variations of the keyword. LSI anchors are very helpful when you don’t want to use the exact keyword in your links.
- Another variation of anchor text that’s considered safe and effective is the combination of brand and keyword anchor. In this case, you create hyperlinks with your brand name and a keyword of your choice. For instance, you can use “cleaning services by ‘your brand name'” as your brand + keyword anchor text.
If you want to get the best out of anchor texts, make sure you use them thoughtfully. They should be distributed appropriately and to the right density. They should also be succinct and relevant to the content on both the linking and target page. Spammy anchor texts are a direct ticket to penalization as so are anchors that don’t sound natural within the text. Never use such anchor texts in your content as they will definitely hurt your SEO.