What Are the Anchor Text Best Practices You Need to Implement to Increase Your SERPs?
Before we dive into the most effective and efficient anchor text best practices we should cover the basics, aka — what is exactly is that “anchor text” you see quoted everywhere.
What is Anchor Text
Anchor Text is the text that’s is displayed as the “title” of a hyperlink. When you’re browsing pretty much any kind of article or online publication, you’ll have noticed that every hyperlink in the body of the article features a clickable piece of text. This is called “Anchor Text”.
screenshot courtesy of Copyhackers
How Can You Insert Anchor Text
Inserting Anchor Text in the content of a web page is very easy, all you need is some very basic HTML skills:
But most modern Content Management Systems (CMS) today allow for a simple highlight of the desired anchor text and then entering the destination URL in the hyperlink option. That will about cover all the Anchor Text 101. Let’s move on to the interesting part.
How Have The Best Anchor Text Practices Evolved Over the Years
Over the years and over the several Google algorithm updates, the objective with anchor text has changed quite a bit. In the beginning of time, or rather the internet, all you needed to do was to enter an exact match of the targeted keyword as the anchor text of your hyperlink and you were golden — all the SEO juice you needed right there, simple as that.
But, as people started overusing this technique, which resulted in keyword stuffing and unnatural content that diminished the user experience due to poor reading flow, Google decided it was high time this practice was not effective anymore and not only that but it could bring down the SERPs and the general SEO status of the whole website. Google started promoting different types of anchor text like long tail, partial match, and branded anchor text.
Types of Anchor Text
Before we go any further we better cover the different types of anchor text that are out there:
Exact-match An anchor text is an “exact-match” when it’s essentially the very same keyword that is being targeted. For example, let’s say that we have a blog post about “horse racing” and the anchor text of the hyperlink that links to that blog post is also “horse racing” — that’s an exact match anchor text example.
Partial-match As the name suggests, in this case, we don’t have a piece of text that letter-for-letter mirrors the keyword for which we want to rank, rather a slight variation of said keyword that partially matches the original one.
Branded anchor text means that the hyperlink uses the name of the brand. For example “Apple” linking to a page of Apple’s website about iPhone 7.
White Noise This is another common example of anchor text — “click here”, “Link”, “Here”, etc. are all various examples of “white noise” or “generic” anchor text Link You can also have the link being displayed as the anchor text itself.
Anchor Text Best Practices for Successful SEO
We already mentioned that for a long time, keyword-rich anchor text was the practice that was undertaken by most marketers. If you wanted to rank, all you had to do was to pick the keywords that you were targeting and just use them for every link you were building. Let’s assume you had a website “www.easypaleorecipes.com” — your anchor text would like:
- Easy Paleo Recipes
- Paleo Recipes
- Recipes for Paleo
Google now doesn’t favorite this kind of behavior and demoted the value of exact-match anchor text. That being said, let’s not get all hasty and absolute and eradicate all exact match and keyword-focused anchor text.
The important thing to keep in mind is how much. Keyword-based anchor text is always important but should be kept to a minimum. You don’t want to overdo it and build all your links around the same phrase(s). It’s all about the quantity and the variation.
Let’s take another example as the oh-so-popular Paleo Diet power phrase has been used to death. Let’s say that Moz has created an insightful infographic about on-site SEO ranking factors to go along their new long-form guide. The hyperlink on the infographic could feature the anchor text in any of the following ways:
- The definite on-site ranking factors by Moz SEO. (Branded)
- A Moz Exclusive: How to add on-site SEO value to your website (long tail)
- Everything you needed to know about SEO on-site optimization, click here (white noise).
All three options are perfectly viable and should be used in different occasions. The anchor text of a backlink sometimes defines the very value of the backlink itself. Furthermore, Google favors “diversified anchor text backlink portfolios”.
Let’s explain this with an example and let’s start with what not to do. This is a screenshot of Majestic’s online site explorer — an excellent app for improving your backlinking strategy. By the way, check the anchor text on this hyperlink, it’s a long tail, non-branded, relevant phrase. But let’s go back to what you should avoid:
The domain in question is www.2toms.com and it’s a website about Paleo Diet Recipes (who would have thought). Majestic provides an analysis of the backlinks’ anchor text. As you can see in total over 60% is a branded anchor text using variations of the URL itself.
This is a non-diversified anchor text backlink portfolio and a practice that you should avoid. Let’s take a look at an anchor text practice you should follow:
This is the analysis of the anchor text used to link back to Moz’s most comprehensive guide on SEO for beginners. As you can see here the anchor text backlinks portfolio is much more diversified and the branded anchor text or exact match is kept to a minimum. Google’s Penguin update back in 2012 started penalizing sites with large percentages of exact match anchor text.
Should You Use Exact Match Anchor Text?
Exact match anchor text should be used sparingly and just make a very small percentage of your backlink portfolio. The rest of your backlinks portfolio should consist of other combinations such as long tail, partial match, white noise, and branded anchor text.
Anchor Text Best Practices Roundup
As mentioned earlier, opt for combinations of anchor text strategies and don’t rely on a single method or variation.
- Partial-match and/or long-tailed anchor text: both these types include a partial match or the keyword or phrase you are targeting and trying to rank for, rather than the exact phrase
- White-noise anchor text: pepper your backlinks portfolio with white noise anchor text whenever you can. Phrases like “click here”, “Link”, “Learn More” are some popular options you can use. White noise anchor text will reduce the percentage of branded and exact match cases and help you diversify your backlinks. Try to keep these words though in close proximity to the keywords and phrases you’re trying to rank for
- Stay specific: this is a good advice to keep in mind for all your SEO efforts — try to stay specific, don’t use more words than you absolutely have to describe your the objective
- Be relevant: again, another SEO golden rule — always be relevant. The landing page should be as relevant as possible to your anchor text. Use close variations, partial match phrases, and contextual succinct keywords
- Don’t forget the keyword density: we said it earlier but we need to say it again — keep the anchor text keyword density to a minimum (in the range of 3%). Google’s Penguin update considers keyword stuffing unnatural and reduces the SEO value of the backlinks at hand. You can find more about keyword density and Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency here.
An SEO-friendly anchor text strategy is the combination of all of the above. In the end, think about this: what’s the most natural way to describe your page/post through the backlink’s title?