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What is an Anchor Text? & How is it Best SEO Optimized?

Before we discuss what an Anchor Text is and how well it’s optimized, the early days of SEO were like the Wild, Wild West! Whereby, Blackhat SEO experts were doing everything imaginable to rank their sites on Google.

Basically, it included keyword stuffing and creating spammy backlinks on a regular basis. And luckily enough, for some time, it totally worked! But these days, those older SEO hacks are long gone.

What is an Anchor Text?

As of today, we now deal with much more sophisticated tools like Google algorithm updates more often. Updates that pushes innocent-sounding updates like Hummingbird and Panda.

Related Topic: Keyword Tool | #1 free Google Keyword Planner alternative

But, as innocent as they sound, they can create some real problems for your ongoing SEO efforts. One of those updates that affected SEO forever is known as Penguin. Specifically, dealing with how Google uses backlinks to evaluate page rank.

Not to mention, Penguin now is a big part of the core Google algorithm. And by that I mean, the anchor text you use in your backlinks and internal links are more important than ever. That’s why it’s important to have a good SEO backlink management plan for your site in place.

Not only that but with the emergence of display advertising, these texts are so common while showcasing ads on site. They may represent the advertiser site link and the button to their landing pages. So, what are they? And why are they so important in SEO audit and marketing?

What is an Anchor Text?

By definition, an Anchor Text or a Text Link is the visible, clickable text in a website hyperlink. And in modern browsers, it is often underlined in blue or any other relatively conspicuous color. Such as this link to the jmexclusives homepage for instance. In short, it’s represented as follows <a href=”https://josephmuciraexclusives.com“>Anchor Text</a>.

Whereby, href is the referring link field in an HTML line while the anchor text to be inserted follows it. An SEO-friendly anchor text is so succinct and relevant to the target page (i.e., the page it’s linking to).

In short, an Anchor Text is the visible characters and words that hyperlinks display when linking to another document or location on the web. It usually appears as a blue or other relative color underlined text. But, you can change your website’s link colors and styles through your HTML or CSS.

To clearly inform search engines and users about the topic of the page you’re linking to, your anchor text should be succinct. As well as specific, pertinent to the destination page, and in close proximity to your target keyword — that you want your pages to rank well for on Google.

Related Topic: What are Nofollow Links? & How do they impact your SEO?

That’s right — anchor text doesn’t have to include a keyword — it can just sit in a sentence that includes your target keyword. When you anchor links to descriptive words and phrases, Google’s bots can instantly understand what the linked page is about.

A clear connection between your page’s topic to the linked page’s topic can also help both pages rank for queries related to the topic. But stuffing keywords or using the same exact keywords in all your anchor text will make Google suspect that you’re just trying to rank for those keywords.

Rather than linking internally to relevant information, and they’ll penalize you for it. The question is: what kind of anchor text should you use? Should you limit the use of a specific type of anchor text if you want to rank in search engines? Or should you even be manipulating anchor text at all?

Which are the Types of Anchor Text?

As you know, an anchor text can provide both search engines and users relevant contextual information about the content of the link’s destination. That’s why search engines use external anchor text (text other pages use to link to your site) too.

And it’s a reflection of how other people view your page — and by extension, what your pages may be about. But, website owners typically can’t control how other sites link to theirs. “You can make sure that anchor text you use within your own site is useful, descriptive, and relevant.” (Source: Google).

If many sites think that a particular page is relevant for a given set of terms, that page can manage to rank well even if the terms don’t appear in the text itself. Also, not every person will link to your page in the same way.

Some of the anchor text variations they might use include:
  • Exact Match: the anchor text is the exact keyword or phrase for which you want to rank.
  • Phrase Match: the anchor text contains the keyword phrase for which you want to rank.
  • Partial Match: the anchor text has all words in the query, but not as an exact phrase.
  • Branded Match: the anchor text is the name of your brand.
  • Naked Match: the anchor text is raw, ‘naked’ URL (i.e., as it would appear in a browser).
  • Image Match: the anchor text is the alt text of the image (according to Google).
  • Generic Match: a common word or phrase, like “This blog post” or “Read more”.
  • Random Match: it’s an unspecific, generic phrase that does not include target keywords.

To enumerate, from the above illustration, a random match would be anchor texts such as “click here,” “this site,” “this article,” etc. So, when is the last time you thought about the specific text you hyperlink?

Especially, in order to direct readers to another page on your website? This text, known as anchor text, doesn’t get much attention. But if done right, it can bolster your SEO efforts.

How does an Anchor Text work?

As I mentioned earlier, an SEO-friendly anchor text is either succinct or relevant to the linked-to page. It can also be a low keyword density text (not overly keyword-heavy), or even not generic. Keeping in mind, that you often don’t have any control over the anchor text that other sites use to link back to your own content.

So, most of these best practices will govern how to best use anchor text within your own website. Let’s consider a succinct anchor text for instance. There isn’t a specific length limit for such an anchor text. And therefore, it’s a good idea to keep your link text as succinct as possible.

A succinct text index uses space proportional to the text itself, say, two times n logσ for a text of n characters over an alphabet of size σ. In the past few years, there were several exciting results leading to succinct indexes that support efficient pattern matching.

At the end of the day, though, the terms you choose to include in your anchor text should take two main factors into consideration. Such as what is the most concise, accurate way to describe the linked-to page? And what word or phrase would encourage users to click on a link?

What is a target page relevance?

According to Braden Becker, HubSpot’s Historical Optimization Lead, “in linking with clear, concise, and relevant anchor text can greatly reinforce the topical connection between certain posts in Google’s eyes. And even help all of those posts rank better.”

And as search engines have matured, they have started identifying more metrics for determining rankings. One metric that stands out among the rest is link relevancy. Or how related the topic of page A is to page B if one links to the other. A highly relevant link can improve the likelihood of both page A and page B ranking.

Not only that but for queries related to page A and page B topics. In other words, link relevancy is a natural phenomenon that occurs when people link out to other content on the web. And it’s hugely determined by factors like the topic of the source page. Or the content of anchor text on that source page.

Related Topic: What does Keyword Difficulty mean? How to Rank in SERP

Bearing in mind, links that point to content related to the topic of the source page are more likely to send stronger relevance signals. Compared to those links pointing back to the unrelated content. For instance, let’s consider a page about the best Pizzas in Kenya.

As such, it’s likely to pass a better relevance signal to Google when it links to another site selling coffee. Compared to when it’ll signal its links to a site with pictures of baby animals. Search engines pay attention to the different anchor text variations.

Such as those being used to link back to the original article. And then use them as additional indicators of what that article is about — and for which search queries it might be relevant. This, in combination with natural language processing and other factors.

Like link source and information hierarchy — to make up the lion’s share of link relevancy indicators online. To ensure your links send strong relevancy signals, keep your anchor text as descriptive of the target page as possible.

You should also know about spammy texts

In addition to the list I mentioned earlier, spammy anchor text links to a webpage that has no relation to its hyperlinked keyword. These types of anchor text mislead users into thinking what the linked page is actually about, providing zero value to the user.

The sole reason why people use spammy anchor text is to briefly rank for highly competitive keywords. Like insurance, loans, or mortgage and siphon traffic from those keywords’ SERPs. Some people will also use spammy anchor text to hamper their competitors’ public perception of Google.

For instance, a company could hyperlink their competitor’s website to the keyword “worst company to work for in 2018” in one of their blog posts. And as a result, their competitor’s website could potentially rank for “worst company to work for in 2018” on Google.

More often, an anchor text might be at the end of your to-do list when you’re polishing your blog post. But, intentionally anchoring links to clear, concise, and relevant keywords can bolster your SEO efforts. Google will seamlessly understand the topic of each linked page on your website.

And as a result, together with the other search engines, they’ll grasp the topical connection between your posts, boosting your rankings.

What does Keyword Density mean?

Your anchor text keyword density refers to the number of times a keyword phrase is repeated on a web page. And as a percentage of the total number of words on the page. While keyword stuffing irrelevant keywords refer to the practice of adding irrelevant keywords to a web page to manipulate where a page ranks in Google. Google tells SEO not to do this.

With the Penguin algorithm update, Google began to look more closely at keywords in the anchor text. If too many of a site’s inbound links contain the exact same anchor text, it can start to appear suspicious and may be a sign that the links weren’t acquired naturally.

In general, it’s still a best practice to obtain and use keyword- and topic-specific anchor text when possible. However, SEOs may get better results by striving for a variety of more natural anchor text phrases rather than the same keyword each time.

Related Topic: What Is Keyword Density? How to Use the Keywords Right

Along those lines, one important note: Don’t overdo it with keyword-heavy internal links. Internal linking is certainly a recommended best practice, but be careful with the anchor text you use to link your own pages together. If too many links to a page all use the same anchor text, even if they’re on your own site, Google might sense spammy behavior.

Out there, there are so many essential tools and strategies to help you measure and analyze your web posts keyword density. As well as optimization cheat sheets to put your SEO audit plan in a better SERPs position. But, it’s so unfortunate that not all of them are as successful as they seem. Learn how to manage keyword density in detail.

How does Text Link Ads work?

More often, text link ads are one way to monetize your blog or website. Whereby, in-text advertising turns individual words or phrases into links. After which typically appears in different colors from the rest of the text.  It’s very simple.

When visitors to your site click the linked word or phrase, they’re taken to a specific page on another website. And then the publisher of the blog or website (you) is paid by the advertiser. As they try to drive traffic to the linked page. Publishers are usually paid based on the number of times visitors click on the text link ad (called pay-per-click advertising).

But, they can also be paid a flat fee for publishing the link on their blog or website. Advertisers place their ads on pages that have some relationship to the audience they are trying to attract to their websites. And as a result. the text link ads increase a website’s brand awareness with a targeted audience.

Then again, visitors become familiar with the products and services offered. So, text link ads can greatly build links that search engines value. While at the same time, improving search engine rankings for the linked site.

Final Thoughts,

In reality, text link ads have caused some controversy in the past, notably those known to have committed “click fraud.” And this’s when publishers, advertisers, or both spam a pay-per-click ad with an automated script. Or even a computer program designed to rack up clicks.

As a result, if Google discovers such activities, it will lower the search rankings of the website. Or even eliminate it from search results entirely. For this reason, it’s important to deal with reputable advertising programs.  And one thing for sure, there are so many popular in-text link advertising programs out there.

Related Topic: How to Auto Refresh Web Pages | Top 5 Extensions to use

Including Google AdSenseAmazon Associates, Adcash, Facebook Audience Network Ads, and Amobee, among others. They all offer contextual text link advertising opportunities. With text links to contextually relevant ad content.  The advertiser will pair interested parties with your blog or website.

Finally, if you’ll need more support, you can Contact Us and let us know how we can help. Or even share your additional thoughts, suggestions, and questions in the comments section. You can also learn more about Anchor Text: A Data‐Driven Guide (384,614 Web Pages Studied).

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