Anchor text is the visible, linked text in an article, document or other piece of online content. When done well, it gives both readers and search engines an idea of what the content they’re about to click contains.
- Anchor Text SEO Benefits
- External vs. Internal Links
- External Link Text
- Internal Link Text
- Anchor Text Best Practices
- Good Anchor Text Tactics
- Avoid These Anchor Text Tactics
- Anchor Text Types
- How To Add Anchor Text
- What’s an HTML example of anchor text?
Anchor Text SEO Benefits
We know from Google Search Advocate John Mueller that anchor text is a ranking factor, based on what he shared in an SEO office-hours video.
Additionally, here’s what Google’s SEO Starter Guide says:
“This text tells users and Google something about the page you’re linking to. Links on your page may be internal—pointing to other pages on your site—or external—leading to content on other sites. In either of these cases, the better your anchor text is, the easier it is for users to navigate and for Google to understand what the page you’re linking to is about.”
Emphasis on the first sentence is my own. By adding proper anchor text, you’re making it more likely that the page you link to shows up in SERPs when a user performs a search for that word or phrase.
When choosing your anchor text, ask yourself, what keyword would I want users to enter in Google in order to end up on this page?
External vs. Internal Text Links
Links can either lead from one site to another (based on the domain), or they can direct a user from one page to another on the same site. Here are the differences between internal and external links.
External Link Text
Anchor text that links to a different site than the one the user is already on is external.
You can control the keywords used for external links that go from your website to someone else’s, but you cannot control what someone else uses to link from their site to yours.
The best way to go about this, then, is to use keywords that you think would be beneficial to the site to which you’re linking and hope others do the same for you.
Of course you can always reach out to authors of pieces of content that link to you and ask them to make a change, but that would be labor intensive for you as well as for them. This may, however, be appropriate to mention when doing outreach for backlinks.
Again, the best advice here is to do unto others as you would want them to do to you, and “anchor” valuable keywords.
Internal Link Text
Anchor text links that take users from one page to another on the same site are internal.
The good thing about internal anchor text is that you have complete control of the keywords you use to link to other pages. That will help Google’s better understand how your website’s content is connected when it crawls your site.
It will also help it better understand the content that’s on the pages to which you link. For example, if I want to tell you how you can contact Brad Gerick, by linking to my contact page with “contact Brad Gerick,” I give both users as well as spiders a clear idea about what’s on that page.
A word of caution: If you stuff all your content pages with keyword-heavy internal links, Google may suspect spammy tactics. Don’t go out of your way to fill your content pages with myriad internal links, or else you may hurt your SERP rankings.
Anchor Text Types
Branded Link Text
Branded anchor text uses the exact name of a brand or company for its link.
Example: Coca-Cola is a soda in a red can.
Generic Link Text
Generic anchor text uses words and phrases like “click here” and “website” and “for more information” and could be interchangeable for just about any website. These are not very helpful to Google. They may, however, make sense to users if the context is correct, but it’s typically best to avoid them.
Example: Click here for Google’s SEO documentation.
Naked Link Text
Naked anchor text writes out the linked page’s full URL without bothering with keywords.
Example: Find the Google Keyword Planner at https://ads.google.com/aw/keywordplanner/home.
Exact-match text matches the main keyword for the page to which it links. This is often the most useful kind of anchor for both readers as well as search engines.
Example: Semrush provides a great SEO audit checklist to monitor your on-page search issues.
Partial-match uses words that are related to the linked page, but don’t exactly match the target keywords. These are also very useful to both readers and bots.
Example: Semrush provides a great tool to audit on-site search issues.
Related Keywords Text
Related keywords, like partial-match, also don’t use the exact keyword, but the linked text is still considered relevant to the content.
Example: Google Search Console is a useful tool to monitor organic search performance.
Anchor Text Best Practices
Here are some dos and don’ts of anchor text from Google. All bullet points in this section are directly copied from the previous link.
Good Anchor Text Tactics
- Choose descriptive text: Write anchor text that provides at least a basic idea of what the page linked to is about.
- Write concise text: Aim for short but descriptive text-usually a few words or a short phrase.
- Format links so they’re easy to spot: Make it easy for users to distinguish between regular text and the anchor text of your links. Your content becomes less useful if users miss the links or accidentally click them.
- Think about anchor text for internal links too: You may usually think about linking in terms of pointing to outside websites, but paying more attention to the anchor text used for internal links can help users and Google navigate your site better.
Avoid These Anchor Text Tactics
- Writing generic anchor text like “page”, “article”, or “click here”.
- Using text that is off-topic or has no relation to the content of the page linked to.
- Using the page’s URL as the anchor text in most cases, although there are certainly legitimate uses of this, such as promoting or referencing a new website’s address.
- Writing long anchor text, such as a lengthy sentence or short paragraph of text.
- Using CSS or text styling that make links look just like regular text.
- Using excessively keyword-filled or lengthy anchor text just for search engines.
- Creating unnecessary links that don’t help with the user’s navigation of the site.
How To Add Anchor Text
Thanks to user-friendly CMSs like WordPress, Squarespace and Wix, it’s easy to change the frontend of your content without knowing how to code.
In most cases, to add links to your content, all you have to do highlight the text you want to use as your anchor and utilize the CMS’s built-in tools. Here’s how that looks on WordPress:
And here’s how that looks on Squarespace:
On most programs (not just in CMSs), you can also highlight text and use the keyboard shortcut of Command + K (Mac) or Ctrl + K (PC) to open the same function.
If you are adding links to your content directly in the code with HTML, copy and paste the code example in the next step and change the target link and anchor text.
What’s an HTML example of anchor text?
Here is what anchor text looks like on the backend of a site. I have pulled an example from the New York Times:
As you can see, the non-linked text looks like normal text in the code. The linked text, however – in blue and underlined – has the following HTML:
<a class=”css-yywogo” href=”https://news.gallup.com/poll/354455/approval-labor-unions-highest-point-1965.aspx” title=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer” target=”_blank”>in public support</a>
The anchor test is at the very end, just before the closing </a> tag. It’s “in public support”, which exactly matches the visibly highlighted text in the article.
While the Times website has some additional items in this element of code, the following more simplified version – only containing the target link and anchor text – would work, too:
<href=”https://news.gallup.com/poll/354455/approval-labor-unions-highest-point-1965.aspx”>in public support</a>