There’s a lot to know when it comes to SEO. But one of the many unsung heroes of SEO is the anchor text link.
And while website owners feel that they can’t control their anchor text link, we’re here to tell you otherwise. Not only is it important to control your anchor text, but it can make or break your website’s search engine page result (SERP) ranking. Here’s what you want to do to optimize your anchor text link for your backlinks.
What are anchor text links?
Before we get any further, let’s take a minute to clarify what we’re talking about.
First, links. Links are the bits that connect one page to another. They’re an essential part of blogging and SEO, and on a deeper level, make up the fabric of the modern internet. They’re also how search engines tell what pages are useful and what pages are not, which is where SEO comes into it.
Anchor text is the text that actually appears on a website that you click to follow the link. In short, it’s the underlined blue text that you see on a website.
For example, in this link to our homepage, the link is http://www.backlinks.com/, and the anchor text is ‘homepage.’
How links relate to SEO
Now that we know what anchor text links are, it’s we need to focus on why you should care about them.
It’s pretty simple. There’s a direct relationship between how linked your website is to how well it performs in the SERPs.
Back in the day, this was a clear relationship. Essentially, the more links you had coming to your site, the better off your site was going to rank.
But the companies started what was called ‘link farming’, where you could buy links to these purebred linking websites. They were totally useless links, but they did drive websites up in the SERPs.
However, since then Google and other search engines have gotten wise.
Now, while links are still important to your final position in Google, they have to be good quality links:
- High authority
- Relevant to the topic
- Both coming in from other sites (backlinks) and internal within your own site (internal links)
Despite these changes though, linking remains absolutely critical to having a positive SEO.
So let’s recap quickly:
- We know that it’s important WHAT sites you link to
- And we know that links, both internal and external, are important to your overall SEO
So where does anchor text come into this?
Well, one of the ways that Google and its competitors decide if something is relevant to what the link is is through anchor text.
So if you are a car website, and you have lots of links coming to your site from other car websites with anchor text like ‘convertibles’ and ‘jeeps’, then that’s going to help your SEO.
But if you have lots of anchor texts coming to your site from non-car related websites that have nothing to do with cars, just random words like ‘mug’ and ‘jacket’ then Google won’t rank those links as highly.
Which is why anchor text is so important.
Types of anchor text
Anchor text links come in a few different variations beyond just relevant vs. irrelevant that Ahrefs covers in detail. But here’s a quick summary:
- Exact match: exactly matches a target keyword: backlinks
- Partial match: Contains the keyword, but also some other stuff: backlinks are great
- Brand name: The brand name of your site or company: e.g. Nike
- URL: the straight up URL of your destination site: http://www.backlinks.com/
- Generic: Just a generic word like ‘click here’
- LSI keyword: an LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keyword relevant to your target keyword: e.g. SEO keywords
- Page title/blog post title: the title of a blog post or a page, for example, a link to our post on how to make money with backlinks would be linked as Make Money Online and Sell Backlinks on Your Website
There are a few other categories but these are the major bones of the anchor text link business.
Anchor text links best practice
Now that we have a good understanding of what anchor text is, there are a couple of best practices you can employ when you’re getting backlinks and internal links in order.
First, what category is best?
As it turns out, Search Engine Journal (SEJ) has talked about this. And they found that the best link that you can have is a link with the title of your page or blog post.
First off, it’s easy to get lots of links that all have the same copy with this strategy. You don’t need to chase down external linkers to get the text you want, and people who you’ll never get access to (e.g. someone mentioning your work on a random blog or sharing your work on social media) will likely link by title anyways.
According to SEJ, most sites have about 25% of their inbound links coming from title tag anchor texts, so that’s what you should be aiming for.
So it’s just easier.
Second, keywords. Yes, ranking for keywords is important. And a key part of this is the development of a keyword ranking program is getting the right keywords in backlinks to you. What’s interesting is that it’s not so important if it’s an exact or partial match – they’re both valuable.
For links that you have control over, asking for keyword links might be the best option, since your title tag links will be rolling in naturally anyways.
According to a massive study completed by Ahrefs, over 84% of page one results had exact keyword or partial keyword inbound links, so there’s a clear correlation there.
But when they looked into the total link profiles for these pages, they found that that about 25% of the links came from partial matches. With the number 1 slot, they found that 13% of posts had an exact match, with first page results averaging about 5%.
What this means is that keywords and partial keywords are important, but perhaps not as critical as you might think. Aim for keywords, but if you’re struggling to get exact matches, don’t panic – partial ones should get you onto page 1 anyways.
All in all, anchor text remains important for backlinks. If you can specify, whether you’re sharing on social media, working with a blogging network, or posting on forums/Quora, then you should focus on exact matches and title tags.
But overall, your focus should be on getting a LOT of high authority backlinks rather than focusing on getting exact anchor text.
Because while anchor text link is important, it’s better to aim for quantity of inbound links than a few really good ones.