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SEO is a crazy game to play. Google algorithms get more complex and intelligent while some experts try to trick them.

These tricks can work – for a while.

Then they are always turned into dust by Google.

This is how it works.

Link building is one of these tricky critical factors for SEO experts. And with the Penguin update, the anchor text in your backlinks and internal links is more important than ever.

Now, you need to consider the quality and the balance.

In the past, people used to be able to game with the Google system by keyword stuffing anchors. Google (which noticed that, of course) now carefully watches your anchor texts, how often you use them, and the surrounding text.

Anchor text may be a little complicated, but it’s worth paying attention to. It can help you climb the ranking or cause a penalty from Google.

What is Anchor Text?

Anchor text is visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. It is descriptive, labeling the destination of a link. Search engines use anchor text, along with other factors, to determine the relevancy of a website for specific searches. As you may guess from the name, it is used to anchor two websites together.

They mostly look blue and underlined texts. However, it is possible to change the style through HTML and CSS.

In terms of codes, they look something like this:

Sample Anchor Text

As a passage, anchor text takes you to another website, a PDF, a download, or documents on platforms like Google Drive.

Let’s give an example:

“Today’s complex global marketplace increases the importance of SEO for small businesses.”

Here, the anchor text is the “importance of SEO.” If you hover over the link with your mouse, you can see the URL on the bottom left and assure it is relevant and reliable.

While you can’t control how other sites link to yours, you can ensure that you use clear, descriptive, and relevant anchor texts.

Why are Anchor Texts Important for SEO?

Simply, anchor text is essential for two key reasons:

  • It tells search engines what a site is about,
  • It helps website visitors know where they will be taken when clicking on a link.

Anchor text simplifies the user experience by helping them understand what the content is about and if they want to read it further.

And also, it can give search engines info about the content of the linked-to page. If many links point to a page using the exact anchor text, that’s a solid signal to Google that the linked-to page is relevant for that phrase. That’s why it’s important to use keyword-rich anchor text if you want your site to rank for specific keywords in organic search results.

However, there has to be a balance. When Google released the Penguin algorithm in 2012, it changed SEO rules. With these changes, Google started checking if anchor texts are overused and penalizing websites for engaging in “keyword stuffing.”

An excessive anchor text usage can harm your page. If you don’t want to lose your traffic, you should know anchor texts and how to optimize them well.

Types of Anchor Text

When you consider how Google algorithms are complicated, it is no surprise that there are several ways to create an anchor text.

Let’s take a look at all these types of anchor texts.

Exact-Match

An exact match is a type of anchor text that contains the primary keyword which directly mirrors what it has been linked to.

It is an effective anchor text that adds serious SEO value and helps pages rank higher. Yet, a massive influx of exact match anchors could look spammy.

For example, Top San Francisco SEO.

Partial-match

A partial match is similar to an exact match, yet it doesn’t include the entire primary keyword. It can still be a very effective type of anchor text.

For example, New York SEO Agency.

Branded

A branded anchor text simply uses a brand name as the clickable link. That could be your brand or another company you are linked to.

For example, Jimmy Huh.

Naked link

A naked link is when the URL of the website is used as the anchor text with no additional words. It might not add much SEO value, and yes, they don’t look good. However, they can come in handy for natural anchor text.

For example: https://www.jimmyhuh.com/contact

Branded

A branded anchor text simply uses a brand name as the clickable link. That could be your brand or another company you are linked to.

  • Click here
  • Read more
  • Download this
  • About the author
  • More info
  • Visit the page

Images

An image anchor text is when an image is used as the clickable link. That could be your company logo or any other image. Also, you’ll see that approach with a clickable call-to-action button.

When you have a clickable image, Google will read the alt tag of your image as the anchor text.

If you don’t have an alt tag, Google will read it as a “NoText” anchor, which is not the desired situation.

So, adding alt text to your image is important.

Long-Tail Anchors

A long-tail anchor is a type of anchor text that contains a longer and more specific keyword phrase. They are similar to partial anchors, but they contain more words.

To use an article or page title as anchor text is considered a long-tail anchor. Also sometimes writers link to a whole sentence as a long-tail anchor.

Random Anchor

A random anchor text is a type of anchor text that doesn’t have anything to do with what it has been linked to. It can be an excellent way to mix things up and make your link profile look more natural.

Mixing things up and using a variety of them to avoid looking spammy to search engines is important. Try to use a mix of exact match, partial match, branded, naked link, generic, image, article or page title, and related anchor texts for the best results.

Natural Anchor Text vs. Unnatural Anchor Text

Natural anchor text is the type of anchor text that comes naturally, without any manipulation or attempt to game the system.

Users create them organically without any interference and control of a webmaster who manages a linked-to site.

When people link to your website, it is inevitable that you will get bad anchor text that does not identify your web page’s topic. Still, they are valuable in creating a natural anchor.

Unnatural anchor text is the type of anchor text created with the sole intention of manipulating search engine rankings.

Search engines may penalize websites that highly focus on manipulating anchor text.

How to Optimize Anchor Text for SEO?

In October 2019, Google released the BERT algorithm, which is Google’s neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training.

It means that Google’s crawlers might also scan and consider the surrounding words and sentences instead of reading anchor texts simply. So, using anchor text properly and enhancing the user experience is more important than ever.

There are many ways to ensure you’re correctly using anchor text. Here are some great practices.

Create a Natural Flow

Anchor texts should have a natural flow and fit well with the rest of your text. It should feel natural and readable. Suppose you’re struggling to squeeze in one link per sentence. In that case, it might not be worth putting them there at all – instead, find another place where those same ideas could easily apply or mention this resource elsewhere within its own context.

Match the Anchor Text with the Content

Matching the anchor text with the content is essential because you want your readers to know exactly what they’re getting into before clicking on a link. If the anchor text and the content you’re linking to don’t match, your readers will be confused and might not click on the link at all.

Make Sure Your Anchor Text is Relevant

This tactic goes along with making sure the anchor text matches the content you’re linking to. You also want to make sure that the anchor text is relevant to what the reader is looking for. If it’s not relevant, they might not click on the link, or worst-case scenario, they might click on it and immediately leave because they realized it wasn’t what they were looking for.

Don’t Link to Toxic Sites

Anchor texts can have a significant impact on your site’s ranking.

Unfortunately, some anchor texts are more toxic than others and can have the opposite effect. Linking to or earning links from sites with toxic anchor texts can damage your site’s reputation and cause your rankings to suffer.

Believe it or not, Google cares about which sites you link to.

Therefore, you should be careful about the sites that spread false information, promote hate, or engage in spammy practices. These kinds of websites will cause Google to penalize you. Even if a site has good intentions, the link can still hurt your ranking.

If you have to link to a site that can cause problems, you can use a no follow link to tell Google not to take the link into account when determining the SEO value for the specific page.

Use Different Types of Anchor Text

When creating anchor texts for your website, it is important to use various text types. It will help improve your SEO and make your site more visible to potential visitors.

So, you can ensure that your site appears in more search results and attracts more traffic.

In addition, anchor texts can help improve your site’s click-through rate. Using relevant and descriptive anchor texts encourages users to click on your link and visit your site. Ultimately, using different types of anchor text can improve your website’s visibility and click-through rate.

Keep the Anchor Text Short

Anchor texts are the words that are used to link one piece of web content to another. When creating anchor text, it is important to keep it short and descriptive.

Using too many words can make the anchor text seem spammy, and anchor text that is not descriptive can be confusing for readers. In general, anchor texts should be no more than three or four words long. By keeping the anchor text short and descriptive, you can ensure that your links are both practical and unobtrusive.

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