Google’s Penguin algorithm update focused on penalizing sites that artificially boost their rankings by manipulating the number of links pointing towards a page. Meanwhile, its Hummingbird update a year later gave extra strength to long-tailed keywords, in an attempt to ensure site owners optimize their actual content.
Since the updates, marketers have wrestled with how anchor text fits into a modern SEO strategy, although any good SEO company will tell you it still plays a vital role. So what is anchor text and why does it matter to SEO?
Understanding Anchor Texts
In simple terms, anchor text is a piece of clickable text, which acts as a hyperlink to another web page, or to a document. It plays an important role in search engine optimization because sites like Google use anchor text to determine what the linked-to website is about and because backlinks remain a major ranking factor.
Anchor links may be internal links, linking to another page on your site, or external, linking to a different website. However, to benefit from them, your anchor links need to be relevant to the content you have produced. Similarly, any backlinks you secure from other sites need to link to your pages in a way that is relevant to their content.
Anchor Text and Authority
Another reason anchor text matters is that Google uses links from high-authority websites as an indicator of value and looks at the sites you link to as well to assess how trustworthy your site is. For this reason, you should only link to sites with high domain authority, and you should try to attract backlinks from authoritative sources too.
It may be sensible to work with a professional SEO company to formulate your link-building strategy. Moreover, guest posts on other high-authority websites are an excellent way to get backlinks to your site, guaranteeing the anchor text is what you want it to be, while simultaneously boosting your authority as an author.
Optimizing Your Anchor Text
While making anchor text relevant to your content is the most critical element of optimization, there are other things to take into account. For instance, there are different types of anchor text, and it is important to utilize a diverse range. Generally, anchor text that mentions your brand is most valuable for backlinks.
For your website, you need to try to get a decent blend of different anchor text types. Generic anchor text will say something like “click here for…”, while you will likely also have keywords to target. It is important not to use exact match anchors, which consist only of your keyword(s), all the time, as Google might penalize this. Instead, use partial match anchors, where your keyword(s) form part of a longer anchor text.
Christelle Macri is the founder of Ebizpromotion, a leading SEO agency in Berkshire, with a no-nonsense and ethical approach to digital marketing. She is also Search Engine Specialist with over 17 years’ experience in the internet advertising industry. Having worked for a major search engine and pioneering pay for performance advertising networks, she is an expert at turning her clients’ websites into consistent revenue streams, using a variety of digital channels. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter.