Anchor text is the content of the clickable text of a link.
For example, in the following link, the clickable text is The HOTH:
In HTML, you can see that the anchor text is what is inbetween the
<a href="https://www.thehoth.com">The HOTH</a>
Why Is Anchor Text Important For SEO?
When building backlinks, using keyword-rich anchor text is a great way to show Google (and users) what the linked page is about.
The problem is that this is also one of the most abused strategies that SEOs use to push up their rankings.
In the past, SEOs would create backlinks that all used the same keyword-rich anchor text to boost their rankings.
But in 2012, Google came out with an updated called Penguin that punished sites that have an unnatural amount of keyword-rich anchor text (over-optimization).
Today and beyond, it’s important to keep your diversity high to make sure you are not penalized!
Types Of Anchor Text
You can classify anchors into multiple categories:
- Exact Match – Using the exact keyword as the text
- Partial Match – A variation of the keyword you want to rank for or a long tail varation
- Brand – The name of your brand (like “The HOTH”) that doesn’t have commercial intent
- Naked / URL – Just the naked URL http://www.thehoth.com
- Benign – Anchors that don’t mean anything like “here” or “website”
- No Text / Image – Just linking an image with no text
You can use all of these, but to have a natural anchor text profile and avoid over-optimization, you’ll want to use lots of natural anchors like brand, naked, image, or benign.
The Perfect Anchor Text Ratio
Some people ask if there is a perfect anchor text ratio.
Unfortunately, a perfect anchor text distribution percentage doesn’t exist, and Google tends to keep changing the dials.
We recommend to always build lots of diversity type links – whether that be “naked” (just the url), branded (the brand name as the anchor) or benign (using words like click here, or website, or link).
Think of these as insurance. You can build lots of these, so when you build a keyword-rich anchor, it’s a very small percentage of the overall links.
If you look at any large website, the vast majority of their links naturally are simply URL links or brand links.
With that said, we published a post on anchor text ratios here.
Checking the Stats of Current Backlinks
An easy way to check how your website is doing is by using ahrefs.com.
Type in the page you’d like to check, then go to Inbound Links>Anchors.
Take a look at your anchor text distribution. Do you have a lot of exact match anchors? A healthy amount of natural anchors?
Make sure you proceed with caution by targeting lots of different anchors & keywords as you build links.
Anchor text has become more important over the years and is very important now. We recommend you build lots and lots of natural anchor text links to avoid over-optimization.