Understanding Anchor Text

One of the most important elements to the SEO of a website is the anchor text. But what exactly is anchor text, and how is it optimally used? Just how important is anchor text?

What is Anchor Text?

Anchor Text is defined as the visible text of a hyperlink.

For example: http://active.marketing is a hyperlink. Rather than displaying the link address we can use anchor text that is relative to the site or page the link is pointing to. So, rather than this: http://active.marketing we get this: killer SEO blog. Both links point to the same place, but the link containing the anchor text helps to establish relevancy of the content on the page to the content of the page the link is pointing to.

How search engines use anchor text

The search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo! being most important) work primarily off the relevancy and importance of the content in a website. There was a time long ago when the search engines placed most of its importance in keywords. People would stuff content full of keywords that had nothing to do with the subject of the website. Now, the websites that have been around the longest, and have the most relevant content are the ones that are on top.

Optimizing your anchor text

Anchor text optimization is the process of optimizing anchor text using relevant keywords to get higher rankings in search engines. Using keywords as anchor text to link to pages on the same topic helps the search engines establish relevancy of all the text contained in a website. All major search engines place huge level of importance to anchor text in comparison to simple hyperlinks.

There are two types of anchor text optimization:

  • Internal Anchor Text Optimization – The linking of text to pages within your website. Linking anchor text from within one of your articles or pages to another page within your site is internal optimization. This helps the search engines to see the structure of your site and helps to establish relevancy of one piece of information to another on your site.
  • External Anchor Text Optimization – Using relevant keywords linking from other websites, such as, blogs, link directories, similar websites, or link exchanges. Links that are inbound to your site using relevant anchor text is tremendously important. Incoming links should come from high ranking, rich in good relevant content, websites. The more incoming links you have from websites with good relevant content, the more the search engines will see your site as relevant to the topic. That’s why links from .edu or .gov sources are very valuable, because the engines see educational or government sources as authoritative sources of important information.

Mistakes to avoid

Like any type of SEO there comes a point where too much can be detrimental to the organic rankings of your site. If you use the same keywords as anchor text over and over again, the search engines can see it as spam. So it best to vary your anchor text as much as possible. Use too much of the same key phrase and watch your rankings drop. There is a new school of thought on the topic of anchor text that says it is good to not only use the actual key phrases as anchor text, but to also use phrases in the same sentence or paragraph as the keywords, instead of using the keywords itself. The Google Algorhithm looks at complete sentences or ideas rather than just words, so anchor text AROUND keyphrases is just as effective as using the actual keywords as anchor text. I personally have found this to be true, using off keyword anchor text is just as effective (if not more) than using anchor text that is just keywords. Switching it up in such a fashion will keep the engines from deeming your links spam.

The importance of anchor text goes overlooked by many people who are trying to optimize their site. The simple “click here” link has absolutely no value to the optimization of your site. Be creative with your anchor text and make your links work for you.