Importance of Anchor Text in SEO: Everything You Must Know
By: Dileep Thekkethil
August 29, 2022
Table of Contents
All SEOs will agree that link building is one of the most effective strategies to boost organic rankings.
The reason is search engines are inclined to rank websites with high-quality links as it’s the most important trust signal.
However, building backlinks is something you may find highly time-consuming and sweaty.
But don’t worry, if you have a perfect link building partner who can do 100% White Hat Link building, you can sit back and relax. If you’re looking for one such partner, you’ve come to the right place.
The most important components of a backlink are the link itself and the anchor text that surrounds the link.
A lot of time, websites build backlinks without giving much care to the anchor texts.
As a result of this, they end up ranking for irrelevant keywords or for keywords that fail to satisfy the real intent.
If you look at one element within SEO that was grossly abused – it’s anchor text.
In the early days of Google and SEO, exact match anchor text was sprayed across irrelevant websites multiple times to trick Google’s Algorithm.
However, with the Penguin Update and the recent Google Algorithm Updates, anchor text stuffing and target keyword stuffing became part of the black-hat world.
Essentially, this means the big search engine dog, Google, will give a one-way ticket to hell for websites that build irrelevant and spammy backlinks.
This could mean that the website that indulges in such practices may get de-indexed and the recovery from that point will be difficult.
The text around the link, which is called the anchor text, is vital for search engines to understand the context and relevance of the website it’s referencing.
This means that Google is doing a constant watch of the links that you are building to your website and also the kind of target keywords you use as the anchor text and the frequency in which you are using it.
Choosing the anchor text and placing it within the content naturally will make all the difference in your organic rankings.
In this blog, we will help you to hone your skill to build backlinks using best practices in selecting the anchor text.
What is Anchor Text in SEO?
As you may already know, Google and other search engines rank websites with the help of algorithms. According to Google, its algorithm checks more than 200 signals before deciding to rank a page on SERP.
Even though Google hasn’t revealed all the signals, over the years of analysis, it’s evident that Anchor text is one among the 200 odd ranking factors of Google.
Anchor text is an important element within hyperlinking that gives users and search engines the context of the page that it is linking.
Anchor text can be also called a bridging text that connects two different pages contextually within the internet.
An anchor text can be used to link:
- Different pages on the same website, which is called Internal Links
- Pages on two different websites often termed as external links or backlinks
- You can also use anchor text link different assets such as PDF, or a DOC file
Since we are talking specifically about backlink building, the anchor text is usually a search term for which a website intends to rank for.
8 Different Types of Anchor Text
Exact-match anchor text includes a keyword that exactly matches the page it is being linked to.
Exact-match anchor text can help your site rank or even get it penalized.
For example, the anchor text “content marketing” is linked to an article on content marketing.
Where to place your exact-match anchor text?
Try to place your exact-match anchor text on your best link opportunities, such as:
- Niche-relevant guest posts
If you can get a link in the body of the guest post, use a keyword-rich anchor text. If you get a link in your author bio, go with a branded/un-optimized anchor text.
- Resource pages
Resource pages are ideal opportunities to place exact match and partial match anchor texts.
- Private blog networks (PBN)
You should use exact and partial match anchor text in PBNs.
Partial-match anchor text matches a part of the keyword to the page that is being linked to.
For example, the anchor text “content marketing strategies” or “content marketing guide” is linked to an article on content marketing.
Branded anchor text is an anchor text to a brand name. For example, Stan Ventures linking to an article on the Stan Blog.
4. Naked Link
A complete URL used as a hyperlink, such as www.stanventures.com is a naked link anchor text.
A generic word or phrase used as an anchor text, such as “Click here” or “Know more”. These types of anchor text are often used for CTAs.
All branded, naked, or generic anchor text should be should for these types of links.
- Paid Directories
- Traditional Directories
- Business Citations
- Press Releases
- Niche Relevant Blog Comments
- Web 2.0s
- Forum Signatures
- Site-Wide Sidebar or Footer Links
- Profile Links
- Social Bookmarks
When an image is linked, Google will use its alt attribute as an anchor text.
7. Keyword variations
Keyword variations help in diversifying your anchor text profile and drive more topical relevance to your web page.
For example, if your target keyword is “SEO”, then some of its keyword variations could be:
- what is SEO
- how to do SEO optimization
- benefits of SEO
8. Brand+Keyword Anchor
You can use your brand name with keyword anchor to diversify your anchor text. For example “content marketing stan ventures”, “blogger outreach services stan ventures”.
Importance of Anchor Text in SEO
Suppose you go back to the Stanford university paper written by the founders of Google. In that case, you can see that they have an entire section for Anchor text.
The PageRank algorithm of Google is incomplete without Anchor text, and this means its bearing on SEO is huge.
According to the paper on PageRank:
- Anchors often provide more accurate descriptions of web pages than the pages themselves.
- Anchors may exist for documents that cannot be indexed by a text-based search engine, such as images, programs, and databases.
The original document also says that anchor text for backlinks comes naturally from neutral third-party sources.
However, this is not always possible, and waiting for natural backlinks can take forever. So, it’s imperative to build backlinks using the right strategy.
So, if you are implementing a link building strategy using a link building partner like Stan Ventures, you have to make sure that the Anchor text you use and the pages you link is highly relevant.
All of this combined can take you a step closer to your business goals.
By the way, Google couldn’t crawl and index documents, Java, and PDFs during the initial days. But now, Google can do all this, which means you can use the Anchor text to link to any of these types of resources.
Avoid Linking and Getting Links from Toxic Sites
As I mentioned above, the relevance and quality of the website are critical when it comes to backlinks.
Even though you have highly focused target keywords used as anchor text to link to your website, it can backfire if the domain linking to you is toxic.
Google hates spammy sites. The sites that have lower Domain Authority and higher spam scores are highly toxic, and getting links from such sites can do more harm than good.
If Google finds that a majority of your Anchor text is placed on spammy sites, it may penalize you or pull down your organic rankings.
Make sure that you deal with real sites with high authority.
The best practice to find such a site is either by choosing the best link building agency as your trusted partner or by making sure that the sites have very less spam score, plus 5k organic traffic with upward growth.
When it comes to linking to other sites whose credibility is not clear for you, try using a relevant anchor text without fail, and in addition to that, add a no-follow attribute.
The no-follow attribute gives Google bots the signal that you don’t explicitly endorse the websites. As a result, no link juice will be passed.
There may come times when you have to link to a reference site with less credibility; in such cases, make use of the no-follow attribute.
Make Anchor Text 100% Relevant
Google has one of the most sophisticated algorithms, and this means it can identify the relevance between the anchor text used and the site that’s linked to.
Here is a simple example to help you understand the importance of relevance:
Building links using irrelevant anchor text may harm your rankings as Google uses the anchor text to better understand the content on the page it is linking.
If the dichotomy between the anchor text and the page is severe, Google bots may get confused, and as a result, it may not rank you for the right keywords.
Keeping Google aside, your readers will find such links useless and create a bad user experience.
Avoid Using Too Much Exact Match Anchor Text
Using the exact match anchor text for building all the links may give a negative notion to Google Algorithms about your website.
Also, most of the time, force inserting the exact match anchors will make the content look unimpressive.
Ensure that the anchor text is long-tailed and has the gist of the page you are linking.
It’s ideal to have a list of related, brand, LSI, and long-tailed anchor text to make the link flow look natural.
Check the Context Surrounding the Anchor Text
Google bots understand the context of sentences and even the relation of each word with that of the other. Thanks to its advanced language processing algorithms.
So, when you place the anchor text within the content, ensure that it is placed within a positive context.
If the content is sharing a negative experience, and the anchor text is placed within this context, Google may find it a negative sentiment against your site.
There are instances where you may find articles written in a negative context carrying your link and anchor text. Just avoid such content as it can affect the rankings adversely.
Anchor Text of an Image
We discussed internal and external links that are linked through text. But what about images?
You can do internal and external linking through images. However, with images, you just don’t have the option to create a textual anchor.
However, this is possible through the alt text.
Google and other search engines will take the “alt” attribute as the anchor text. This is why it’s important to use the right alt text for the images you are linking.
Here is how you can identify an image linked using alt text as the anchor.
<a href="https://example.com" title="example site"><img src="https://www.google.com/a/help/intl/en/images/sites_35.gif" border="0" alt="Example of ALT"></a>
In cases where the alt text is missing, the naked link automatically becomes the anchor of your image.
How Anchor Text Works as Part of Link Building
The anchor text is usually the target keyword or the variations of the keywords you want to rank on Google for a specific page.
A backlink is built when the anchor text along with the link to your web page is contextually placed within the content (usually a blog post) published on another website.
You can increase the rankings of the target keywords when Google identifies multiple high-quality websites linking back to your page using different variations of the search term.
But how can readers and Google check the legitimacy of the backlink?
You as a user can check the legitimacy of the link that surrounds any anchor text by just hovering the mouse around it.
If the website linked is completely irrelevant to the anchor text used to link, it could be an indication of a spammy link.
This is the same process that Google Algorithms follow to understand the quality of the backlink and the anchor text.
When it crawls the pages linked from one site to the other:
- It checks for the relevance of the link
- It checks the context of the link
- It looks for other websites that are linking back using the same anchor text.
- It looks for the authority of the sites that are linking back to the page.
This is why you must build backlinks that are of very high quality. Also, you shouldn’t build too many backlinks using the exact match anchors because Google Algorithms may trigger unnatural activity.
Try to find different variations of the anchor text (target keyword) when building backlinks.
This will help Google to understand the topical relevance of the page and as a result, you can rank for more LSI keywords.
How to Find Anchor Text Inside an HTML?
If you know how to read basic HTML, identifying the Anchor Text used for building your backlink is easy.
`<a href=”https://www.w3schools.com/”>Visit W3Schools.com!</a>`
As you can see, the Anchor text is the words that appear in between the opening and closing <a> attribute.
What’s Anchor Text Ratio?
Anchor text ratio is closely associated with backlink building strategy. It signifies the strength of the backlink profile of a website based on the types of anchors used to link.
There are different types of Anchors Texts that websites use to get links. Read more about it here.
Some of the most common ones are an exact match, partial match, and naked links.
A naturally built backlink profile will have a mixture of different types of anchors.
However, if links are built without keeping the anchor text ratio and link profile in mind, it could end up in an unnaturally higher number of similar types of anchor text in your linking profile.
Google and other search engines consider websites with such linking profiles as engaging in spammy practices and it might penalize them.
Since Google has become smarter in identifying links that are unnaturally built, you have to keep a close watch on the anchor text ratio.
Try making it as natural as possible and ask your agencies, not to overdo building exact match keywords. If you don’t want to go through this trouble choose Stan Ventures.
We build links from 100% genuine sites using different variations of your anchor text so that your link profile looks authentic. In addition to this, the right mix of different types of anchors can help you rank faster on SERPs.
In this blog, I will show how to build a good link profile by using a perfect anchor text ratio.
Importance of Diverse Link Profile
As I said, a diverse anchor text is one way to keep the attention of Google Algorithms away from sensing trouble.
You may find it really hard to build backlinks naturally though this is what Google wants all websites to do. In order to bridge the ranking gaps between your competitors, it’s imperative to build a few backlinks.
Most of the time you may use guest posting or blogger outreach strategy to build links.
But here is the thing:
You may ask the SEO agency to build backlinks that are an exact match. I perfectly understand the reason; you are paying for building each of these links and you want it to be of high search volume keywords.
If you have an uneven ratio of the exact match compared to other types of anchor texts, it just doesn’t look natural.
Thinking how the heck Google comes to know about it? The simple answer is their algorithm, which is too sophisticated to describe in this post.
Read our Google Algorithm Update article to know its complexity and the frequency in which the search engine giant updates the algorithm.
Overusing the exact match keyword as your anchor text may cripple your organic growth as Google detects such activities as part of a link scheme.
If you are going with an SEO agency, they may suggest exact match keywords for building the anchor text.
But now that you know the disadvantages of going overboard with exact match anchors, ask them to strategically use the anchor text using long-tailed, generic, and brand anchors.
In some cases, using naked URLs can also play a critical role.
Here’s the catch though:
If you are building backlinks to your website then how can you make the backlink profile look natural with a diverse set of anchor text?
Hmm. This may seem impossible when you think initially. But there is a way to strategically build such backlinks.
You need to know more about the types of links your website is building.
How to Choose Anchor Text Based on Link Type
So if you are building backlinks using strategies such as guest post, blogger outreach, listings, directories, comments, author bio, or social, each of these backlinks tends to give you a preset type of anchor.
So, if you are spending money on doing manual blogger outreach, you just don’t want a generic anchor text “click here”.
In this case, you require a long-tailed or an exact match anchor to represent your link.
If you forcefully try to make your anchors look natural by diluting the quality of anchor text used, this can hamper the overall SEO process.
Here is the ideal anchor text ratio seconded by experts in Stan Ventures.
- 20% branded anchors
- 20% naked URLs
- 10% business owner name
- 10% generic anchors (click here, read more)
- 35% related keywords (keywords similar to your main one)
- 5% “money” keyword
I’ll tell you how to go about building the ideal anchor text ratio using different types of anchor text for specific link building strategies.
Guest Posting Links (In-content Exact Match and Long-Tailed Anchors)
Guest posting services are still prevalent and there are agencies like Stan Ventures that are doing guest posting within the defined lines.
When you are doing a guest posting, you typically get a dofollow in-content backlink.
However, since these are blog, there is no chance of the website owner accepting a naked URL or a brand anchor as it will look outright promotional.
They know that and so does Google. So don’t take a chance there.
Instead what you can try is to get long-tailed or LSI anchors for guest post links.
This will ensure that you have contextually relevant anchor text placed within the content and if you are not duplicating the exact same anchor text on multiple websites, you are generally safe.
Make a note of this:
If you find websites that are accepting brand and naked URLs as the anchor text, those could be PBNs.
Of course, you know that Google hates PBNs, and getting a lot of links from such sites can break the organic growth of your website.
Blogger Outreach Links (Brand, Generic, Long-Tailed Anchors)
Manual Blogger Outreach is a cut above guest posting and the sites selected for building such links weigh heavily on the quality of the content they publish.
Most of the time, these are sites with genuine organic traffic above 10K and they value the visitors.
Due to this, they don’t accept blog posts that are out of the niche nor do most of them allow a dofollow backlink within the content.
Since these are really high-quality websites and they have a similar audience you are reaching out to, which means you may have to settle with an Author Bio link.
So, here is the thing with links from the author bio. The link is usually placed within the brand name and in most of the cases it’s dofollow.
If you are looking to place any other link within the content, make sure it’s a link to the resource page rather than a service or product page.
Bloggers will love to link to extensive resources that provide more context to their readers.
If you have built a good rapport with the website owner, there are chances of getting dofollow links within the content.
We here at Stan Ventures users a 100% manual outreach strategy and know what, we have an inventory of more than 20,000 genuine blogs who trust our content and provide dofollow backlinks to our clients.
Profile Links (Naked URL and Brand Anchors)
If you are doing link building through profiles, a vast majority of such links will be either a branded or naked URL.
Most of the time, these links are built from sites that allow a profile page to be created.
There are also sites such as forums that allow users to add their website URL as part of the user profile.
However, these sites generally don’t provide dofollow links. That said, this is a practice that’s followed by most website owners and it’s not harmful.
We will talk more about different types of links in this blog to discuss whether it’s worth building links other than dofollow.
Citations and Directories (Generic, Naked, and Brand Anchors)
Local businesses still use Citations and Directory listing as effective link building strategies.
However, the value generated for these links is debatable. That said, there are studies that have found such links highly useful for websites of local businesses.
Most of the links from web directories and citation websites are from anchors that are generic.
For example – Vist Now, Click Here etc..
There are also times where you can hyperlink the brand name thereby getting a Branded Anchor text to your website.
Blog Commenting (Brand or Naked Anchor)
So if you are a website owner, you may be already getting a ton of comments.
I know, some of them are outrightly spammy and we won’t discuss them here. What’s of our interest is the genuine comments that come to you with links to a brand name or a person’s name.
There are also comments that are at times approved with naked URLs.
Both these are still being used as backlink building strategies. To an extent, this strategy still works for a few websites.
However, getting an exact match or long-tailed anchor from the comment section will now unnatural and there is a high chance of it backfiring
In fact, most of the time the webmaster will just hit the trash or spam button as soon as they see comments with multiple anchors.
Types of Content and the Anchors Used To Link
Above, we discussed different types of anchors used based on different link building strategies. But which are the most common pages that get each of these anchors?
Here is a really great graph that you can use to know the type of anchor text that has to be used for different types of pages on your website.
Anchor Text Ratio Based on Pages within a Site
Homepage – Branded, Naked, Generic
Service/Product Page – Long-Tailed, Generic, and Partial Match
Blog/Resource Pages: Exact Match, Partial Match, Long-Tailed
Hope you got a bucket full of ideas to optimize the anchor text the next time you build backlinks. If you are still finding it hard, get in touch with the experts in Stan Ventures. All you have to do it hit the live chat below.