October 30, 2021

What Are Anchor Text and Why Are They Important in SEO?

Creating articles involves more than writing extensively about a particular topic. One of the crucial aspects of creating for online consumption is knowing how to place anchor text in your article. 

Anchor text is the part of a link visible to readers, and it is valuable in SEO. How you choose what words to include as anchor text in links can affect your rankings. Read on to learn more about anchor text and how to optimize it.

Anchor Text Defined

Anchor text is the part of a hyperlink that is visible to users. This text can be either internal or external links. Internal links connect people to other pages on your website, and external ones direct them to other websites. Choosing the best anchor text is crucial to help search engines and users understand what target pages contain.

How to Maximize Anchor Text

Anchor texts have been in use since the start of the internet. However, many website administrators don't follow best practices in using them. Optimizing anchor text helps search engines understand the structure of a website. When incoming links match the page's content, it helps make pages rank higher for some keywords. Here are tips for choosing the best anchor text for your page.

Select Keywords or Meaningful Phrases

The best words to turn into anchor text give readers a clue of what the linked page contains. For example, in the sentence "here's a guide on building backlinks for small businesses," the best anchor text is the phrase 'a guide on building backlinks.' 

It's because this phrase best describes what the linked page is about. Don't choose generic words or phrases that don't say anything about the linked content—don't highlight "here" or "here's a guide" only. These words don't provide enough context on the linked page.

Don't Use Naked URLs as Anchor Text

Website administrators might also use the actual URL, also known as a naked URL, as the anchor text. Though this doesn't cause Google to penalize a website, it isn't good practice. Naked URLs disrupt the reading experience—it's still better to incorporate the link into the text. Better yet, use the title tag of the linked page as the anchor.

Keep Your Anchor Text Short

Keep your anchor short—if it has plenty of words, it becomes challenging to read for search engines. Take the following examples:

<a href="https://seocompany.com/definition-of-seo">What is SEO?</a>

<a href= "https://seocompany.com/definition-of-seo">SEO is the process of improving a website's visibility, so it gains more organic traffic.</a>

In the first example, "What is SEO?" will show up as a blue link. Meanwhile, in the second one, the blue link is the sentence, "SEO is the process of improving a website's visibility so it gains more organic traffic." The first one is better since it will be easier for both crawlers and website visitors to read.

Google Penalties and Anchor Text

Anchor text is crucial to SEO because of how much value Google places on backlinks. Incoming links are among the most valuable factors in search optimization; a link pointing to another website is considered a "vote of trust," and pages with plenty of links from other websites tend to rank highly in search engine results pages or SERPs.

One of the reasons why a link becomes valuable is because of the anchor text. Since the anchor provides information on the linked page, it gives search engines a clue as to which keywords are related to the page's content.

For instance, suppose you have two websites, A and B. If Website A links to Website B, search engines will interpret it as Website A trusting Website B. The words used in the anchor link also matter—for example, if Website A uses the anchor text "SEO Courses" in its link to Website B. If the linked page does contain courses on optimization, that'll improve Website B's rankings.

Problems arise when Website B does not contain SEO courses; when Google finds out that the link does not match the content, it penalizes both websites or ignores the links.

Optimizing Outbound Links

You have several options for optimizing links going out to other websites. First, only link to pages you trust. If you aren't sure whether you should trust a website, make the link nofollow—using this tag instructs search engines not to pass link juice from your website to the other one.

You can also use anchor text which is a partial match for the website's H1 or main header. For example, if the website you're linking to is titled "Tips for User Experience," you can use the anchor text "tips for better UX" in the sentence "follow these tips for better UX."

Finally, you can link to a website using their brand name. Using a company's brand name is safe practice since it is a highly contextual word for the website.

Optimizing Inbound Links

If you're running a link-building campaign and have control over how inbound links appear, you can boost your articles' performance by using different types of anchor text. Use a combination of brand name, partial match, and page title anchor text. Typical link profiles have different types of anchor text—if you use only one type, it will not look natural.

Finally, keep in mind that the anchor text is just one aspect of making a link valuable. The relevance of the link to the linked content, the authority of the domain, and the location of the link matter as well.

Conclusion

The clickable part of a link that users see is known as the anchor text. It is crucial in search engine optimization because it lets search engines know more about the linked page. Google guidelines about anchor text usage change frequently, and sometimes they contradict each other, which is why it's essential to keep oneself up to date with current best practices.

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