What is anchor text?

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Anchor text is the visible, clickable text of a link. It usually appears in a different color than the surrounding text and is often underlined. Good anchor text tells the reader what to expect if they click on the link. Getting your anchor text right increases the chance of someone clicking on your link, and helps search engines by giving them context.

Before we dive in, if you want to learn more about link building strategies and other essential SEO skills, you should check out our All-around SEO training! It doesn’t just tell you about SEO: it makes sure you know how to put these skills into actual practice!!

What does an anchor text look like?

Anchor text describes the article being linked to and entices visitors to click. Even search engines understand that the linked article is relevant because the URL and the anchor text correlate. So, for example, if you were to link to this article, you might use the link/anchor text like this: What is anchor text exactly? So you link to other articles in a way that looks natural to the reader.

What does anchor text look like in HTML? The first piece of code is the URL, while the second part describes the link – and this is the anchor text. Like this:

anchor text example

Different kinds

Anchor text is relevant for both your internal links and your incoming external links. External sites can link to your content in various ways.

  • Branded links: A link with your brand name as an anchor, like Yoast.
  • The URL itself: Just your site’s URL without a text, like https://yoast.com. Not that helpful in most instances.
  • Site name: written as Yoast.com.
  • Article title: Exact matching the article, like What is anchor text?.
  • Exact keywords: Your focus keyword/keyphrase as anchor text
  • Partially matching keywords: Using variants of your focus keyword to make a readable link.
  • Related keywords: Not a direct match, but a keyword or keyphrase that is closely related to the main one.
  • Generic links: Try to avoid these ‘Click here’ and ‘Read more’ links. Tell people what a link is about. Otherwise, they’re guessing.

Best practice for anchor texts

It’s not exactly rocket science: writing relevant anchor text is pure common sense. A link must provide value for a user, and the anchor text is the most important way of conveying the value of that link. Keep it natural. Don’t make up crappy sentences to shoehorn in your exact match keywords or keyphrases. If it doesn’t sound natural when you say it aloud, don’t write it. Also, don’t turn a complete sentence into the anchor text. Keep it condensed and easy to understand.

Read on: The context of internal links »

Anchor text: Things to avoid

First of all, keep your links relevant. Don’t spam your anchor text and don’t use generic anchor text to try to get people to click on your link. Don’t stuff your anchor text full of keywords. You should never use text that has no relation to the linked content. Whatever you do, don’t try to fool your users – nobody likes that. The same goes for trying to get your site design to ‘stand out from the crowd’ with links that don’t look like links. Keep the contrasting font color and underline it or people will easily miss your links.

Of course, you don’t have much control over how other sites link back to your site, but you can set up a link building strategy that has a better chance of getting those coveted relevant links with great anchor text.

Internal links and anchor texts

We all know that internal links are essential. Yoast SEO has a built-in internal link tool that makes it a lot easier to find related content to link to on your site. Whenever you add a relevant link to your article, you also need to think about the anchor text. By thinking carefully about how and why you link these articles to improve your internal linking structure you can help both users and search engines navigate your site easier.

To make the most of internal links try to only add links that add real value to users. Write great anchor text for them, so readers know this link has been carefully selected to help them find out more. Don’t link for the sake of it. Make it relevant and useful. And of course, don’t spam!

seo basics anchor text exact match example
An example of an exact match
seo basics anchor text freeflowing text
An example of a more free-flowing form of linking

This is anchor text

Anchor text helps both users and search engines decide whether a link is worth visiting. Some people try to game this system, but don’t fall into this trap. These days, Google has is pretty good at spotting links that are unnatural and even harmful. So, keep it natural and relevant, and you’ll be good to go!

Keep on reading: SEO basics: What is a permalink? »

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