Anchor text is any clickable text used for a link online. Anchor text is crucial to successful search engine optimization (SEO), as it has a significant impact on the visibility and ranking of a website in search engine results pages (SERPs).

There are several types of anchor text, along with multiple ways to use anchor text, and best practices for using it. The use of exact match anchor text is particularly complicated, as it used to be the SEO go-to, but in modern search engine optimization, it can only be used successfully in certain circumstances. Most SEO experts advise a maximum of 5% exact match anchor text.

High-quality, relevant anchor text will help you avoid penalties that would bump your page down search engine listings. As search engines become more sophisticated in the way they crawl websites and can better understand what pages are about and how relevant they are, choosing anchor text carefully is becoming more important. Anchor text should be relevant to the link it contains, and also to the overall topic of the site or page.

What is Anchor Text?

Anchor text is a visible and clickable hyperlink text that leads to a web page. The text is sometimes underlined and appears in blue, purple, or another color to indicate a link. Any link you click on within text on a website is anchor text.

You can create similar links in emails, Word Documents, and Google Docs. But anchor text on websites is different because it provides context to search engines about the content of the linked page and can influence the page’s ranking in SERPs.

Types of Anchor Text

Several types of anchor text are used in SEO, with the norms changing over the years. Some of the most used include:

  • Brand name anchor text

  • Generic anchor text

  • Image anchor text

  • Keyword-rich anchor text

  • Exact match anchor text

Brand Name Anchor Text

Brand name anchor text uses a company or product name as the hyperlink text. Brand name anchor text doesn’t contain anything else, just the brand or product name, which is what makes it unique as a type of anchor text. Brand name anchor text iis one of the only ways to use keyword-specific anchor text without risking search engine penalties.

Generic Anchor Text

 Generic anchor text uses generic persuasive terms such as “click here”, “learn more”, or “find out more”,  to link to a page that has been explained in the text above. Generic anchor text should be used in moderation. It’s unlikely to earn you a penalty from a search engine alone, but if you aren’t making the purpose and relevance of your page or site obvious in other ways then generic anchor text might damage your rankings. Always use it in moderation and in combination with other types of anchor text.

Image Anchor Text

Image anchor text uses an image’s description as the hyperlink text. It’s also known as ‘alt text’ and it’s useful for search engines as it adds additional context by letting the search engine know what images look like. Alt text is also useful for visually impaired site users.

Keyword-Rich Anchor Text

Keyword-rich anchor text can help to improve a page’s ranking for a particular keyword. This is because it helps search engines understand the context and relevance of the linked content by using keywords related to the content on your page.

However, overuse can result in a penalty from search engines. That’s why it’s important to use keyword-rich anchor text in a natural way, with the anchor text appearing organically in sentences, rather than forcing it in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings.

Exact Match Anchor Text

Exact match anchor text is just what it sounds like. It’s a specific, singular search term used as anchor text;  for example, a page that targets the keyword “best shoes for running” may use “best shoes for running” as its exact match anchor text. Other examples of anchor text like this are business names linking to a homepage,  or specific products linking to a product page.

Exact match anchor text can be useful for targeting specific keywords, but its overuse can be seen as spammy and may result in a penalty from search engines. This kind of simple anchor text used to be used as standard, but as search engines have become more sophisticated so has the use of anchor text. The best way to use exact match anchor text is for brand or business names. As with all anchor text, best practice includes using exact match anchor text in a natural way.

Best Practices for Anchor Text

Best practices for using anchor text in SEO include using natural, diverse anchor text and making sure it appears naturally in sentences. Concentrating on relevant, informative content should be your number one consideration for SEO, with keywords and anchor text included within that content.

You should avoid:

  • Excessive use of exact-match anchor text

  • Excessive use of keyword-rich anchor text

  • Spammy text

  • Anchor text presented without context

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