Anchor Text

What Is Anchor Text?

Anchor text is the clickable words that appear highlighted in a hyperlink.

It is often styled in a different colour and underlined so users know it is a link.

Using relevant and descriptive anchor text provides a better user experience and improves your SEO. It helps search engines and site visitors understand the relevance of the linked page.

anchor text used in website article link

Here’s what I mean:

Users benefit from anchor text because it helps them find more information and resources about a certain topic.

They can decide whether clicking through to a page will help them or not by simply reading the anchor text within the link.

But anchor text also benefits SEO.

Good anchor text improves the quality of both:

Google uses the anchor text to better understand what the linked page is about – Just like a human.

You can improve your pages’ rankings by adding contextually relevant keywords to your anchor text.

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Why Is Anchor Text Important?

Anchor text is important because it signals to users and search engines what content they can expect to find on the linked page.

It affects the quality of your user experience and significantly impacts your SEO.

Anchor text helps users decide whether (or not) to click the link to get more information. But for search engines, it helps them understand the linked page better and ultimately rank it for the right search queries.

What does all this information mean for you?

Anchor text is essential to a quality website. It is an unconfirmed Google ranking factor that improves your overall site structure and SEO.

The best part is you have complete control over your own anchor text.

That means you can take advantage of it to improve your rankings and generate more organic search traffic.

Different Types Of Anchor Text

Not all anchor text is the same.

A natural anchor text profile is made up of different types of anchor text.

Anchor text can be broadly broken down into 8 types:

  1. Exact Match – Includes the exact target keyword in the anchor text
  2. Partial Match – Part of the target keyword is included in the anchor text
  3. LSI Match – Variations of synonyms related to your target keyword are the anchor text
  4. Branded Text – Uses the name of your brand in the anchor text
  5. Generic – Common words or phrases like “click here” or “read more”
  6. Naked URL – The anchor text is the linked URL you see in the address bar
  7. Image Alt – When an image is linked, Google uses the ALT text as anchor text
  8. No Text – A link is present on the page, but there is no visible anchor text often due to missing image alt text

Most people think that just stuffing keywords in the anchor text of an external backlink is the key to ranking.

But that couldn’t be further from the truth…

When choosing anchor text for link building, you must have a natural-looking anchor text profile.

different anchors used in anchor text

In the image above, you can see the different types of anchor text being used:

  • Exact match
  • Brand mentions
  • Partial match
  • Nake URL

Building links and stuffing keywords into those links is the fastest way to trigger an anchor text penalty from Google.

That’s the opposite of what you want!

Anchor Text Examples

Below are some real examples of anchor text used in internal linking and external links.

The first example is an internal link to one of our articles. We use the exact match anchor text “keyword research” and link to our keyword research tutorial.

exact match anchor text example

Just from the anchor text, the reader will know that clicking on that link will take them to an article about keyword research.

Simple, right?

The second example of anchor text is generic text used in a Harvard Business Review article:

generic anchor text example

It links to a SoundCloud audio file and uses the words “Click here” to show users where to listen to the file.

The last example is anchor text that references two statistics:

source anchor text example

This adds credibility and trust to the page while also showing users the source of the statistics.

Here’s the takeaway:

Anchor text can be used in lots of different ways.

But it should always add value to the reader’s user experience and help search engines better understand the linked page.

Best Practices For Anchor Text

Good anchor text is relevant, concise and accurately describes the linked page.

It should provide context for the reader and set their expectations about what they can expect to find on the page.

Here are the best practices for anchor text:

1. Keep It Relevant

Ensure the anchor text is relevant to the page it’s linking to.

Relevance means that the anchor text should accurately describe the content on the page.

Think about it like this…

Will a user read the anchor text and immediately understand the page they will click through to?

Remember that search engines use anchors to better understand a page’s context. Make sure that the anchor text is optimised for SEO.

2. Add Varied Anchor Text

Varied anchor text really only applies to external links.

Use a variety of anchor text types such as:

  • Exact match
  • Partial match
  • Branded

…to create a natural-looking anchor text profile. Don’t just stuff your target keyword in the anchor text.

This will improve the quality of your backlinks and benefit your search rankings.

For internal links, you should ONLY use your exact match target keyword.

Check out our complete internal linking tutorial to learn more.

3. Keep It Concise

Keep anchor text concise and to the point. Your goal is to make it easy for users to understand what the linked page is about.

Most anchor text is between 1 and 5 words maximum.

Use that as a rule of thumb when writing the text.

4. Don’t Over Optimise

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again…

Don’t over-optimise your anchor text by keyword stuffing when it comes to link building. You should use a range of different types of anchor text to form a natural backlink profile.

Excessive use of exact-match keywords as anchor text within external links can attract unwanted Google penalties.

5. Use Descriptive Phrases By Default

Always use descriptive anchor text when possible.

Generic phrases like “click here” or “read more” don’t provide much insight into the linked page’s content for both users and search engines.

That can lower the quality of your backlink overall.

Descriptive anchor text is recommended by Google and provides the best user experience.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, anchor text is a ranking factor that Google actively uses to understand the context and quality of pages. Pay attention to your anchor text and ensure it’s relevant, descriptive and concise.
Yes, image links use the ALT text as the anchor text. Google considers the ALT text equivalent to the anchor text because it serves the same function. Image links that don’t have ALT text will not have any anchor text by default.
Anchor text in a URL is the visible, clickable words that the hyperlink displays on the page. It usually appears underlined and in a different colour such as blue, to tell users it’s a clickable link.
Use anchor text because it gives users and search engines context about the linked page. It ultimately provides a better user experience by helping site visitors find relevant information on your site quickly. Anchor text, most importantly, benefits your SEO because search engines use it to understand what the linked page is about.

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