How To Select The Best Anchor Text: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Anchor text is the hyperlinked text that brings you from one place to another on the Internet. When done correctly and successfully, anchor text can have a great effect on your SEO performance. However, if it misses the mark, Google can penalise your site. 

Follow these steps to fully optimise your anchor text.

  1. Select your wording and make it relevant

Good anchor text should concisely explain where the text will take you. Select the most relevant wording to give a good indication of what the reader can expect if they click on the anchor text.

  1. Select what type of anchor text to use

There are various anchor text types. Here is a brief rundown of your options:

Exact Match – this type of anchor perfectly matches the keyword of the page you’re targeting. For example, ‘Digital Marketing’ linking to a page about digital marketing, or ‘SEO optimisation’ linking to a page on tips for SEO optimisation. It is a direct match.

Partial Match – these include the keyword of the target page, as above, but also include other words and phrases in the anchor. For example, ‘top tips to improve your SEO optimisation’.

Branded Anchors – these use direct brand names to link through. One of the pros of this anchor type is that it builds brand recognition within the article, clearly naming the brand.

Brand + Keyword Anchors – these combine the brand name with the keywords. For example ‘Manic SEO’s guide on starting a digital marketing business’. This boosts how hard the anchor text is working, promoting the brand whilst indicating clearly what you are linking to.

Related Keywords – these are words associated with the target keyword, but not an exact match. These provide variation whilst remaining relevant to the topic.  

Generic Anchors – often calls to action, these are phrases such as ‘click here’ ‘find out more’. They are generic phrases that don’t specifically state the content of the link, but signpost you to it and have a clearly defined action. They are useful in moderation, but don’t rely on them too heavily as they often don’t give enough context.

Naked Anchors – most often used at the end of articles in the reference or citation section, these are the full url link. These look clunky in the main body so try to avoid! 

Image Anchors – these use the alt text or image description to link out. This can often break up an article, and provide variety in your anchor text implementation.

Latent Semantic Indexing – ‘LSI’ in short uses terms that would typically show up together in Google searches. You can use tools such as Google Ad Words or an LSI Keyword Generator to find these specific keywords. From this, you can then decide which terms are most applicable for your content.

  1. Diversify the type of anchor that you use

Now that you have these different types at your disposal, a key tip is to use a variety of them throughout your article. It is best to mix up the type of anchor text that you use. 

Google wants to minimise manipulation of anchor text to improve page’s rankings. They have previously changed their algorithms to get on top of this issue. Their famous Penguin update limited the impact of ‘exact match text’ to reduce spam and manipulative link building processes. This resulted in those sites that had been too dependent upon that anchor type dramatically falling down the SEO rankings.  

Learning from this, be versatile and don’t be too dependent on one option. It is now common practice to ensure exact matches don’t make up more than 5% of your content. This study explores the effect of exact match anchor text in more depth. 

  1. Optimise surrounding text

The surrounding context of the anchor text is very important. Ensure that you’re using natural language and that your sentences flow. This works two-fold. Firstly, it provides a positive experience for the reader, clearly telling them what to expect when they click your link. Secondly, it shows Google that you know and understand what you’re linking to, and that you are not spamming to an unrelated site. 

  1. Vet what you’re linking to

Importantly, ensure the website you’re linking to is reputable and relevant to your overall article. It is your duty to make the link valuable to your reader and worth their time. If your link is dodgy, spam, or links to a completely random site and topic, readers will be much less inclined to click on your other links as they won’t trust them. Always stay relevant to increase your authority. 

  1. Be natural

The reading experience is key. Don’t shoehorn in keyword matches if they don’t naturally fit in your sentence. This will look out of place and feel tiresome for the reader. Throughout your article, write in the most natural way you can. This provides an authentic feel, and ensures that when you do use anchor text, it is appropriate, concise and relevant, rather than an add on which disrupts the flow of the article and clearly feels out of place. 

To sum up, be aware of your options, use a variety of anchor types, ensure you are on topic and bring value to the reader at all times, and be natural in your approach. Follow this advice and your anchor text will work hard for you, and have a positive effect on your SEO ranking. 

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