Anchor Text Guide – How to Get the Most Out of Your Links

anchor texts

Our ranks and keywords we rank for heavily depends on anchor texts we use in link building. Some ranks are there because of low competition, some because we have quality content or we are unique, others due to heavy social media influence, but most ranks, especially the ones in tough competition, are there because of link building.

Since Google is advancing their algorithms more and more it can be hard to keep track of things, one thing we know for sure is that exact anchor texts are not that beneficial as they were two years ago. A more appropriate strategy is needed in order to rank for a certain keyword now, so let's talk about anchor texts and everything that influences our rankings trough anchor text links.

General Influencers

  1. Words used - the words we use are probably the most important aspect of the anchor text link. If we link to a certain page with "running shoes", search engines will know that the page is about running shoes and probably sports equipment or similar, there is no chance they will think that page is about flowers, it is simple as that.
  2. Text surrounding the link - text surrounding the link also greatly influences the relevance and importance of the link. We can look at the whole content on the page as well as the sentence where the link is placed. The more relevance in the content and the sentence where the link is placed the better. We will have little use to link "running shoes" from a post talking about lost and found if we want to promote a sports shop, it would be different if we were running a bulletin for lost and found or ad site.
  3. Page it links to - Logically, the location of the link gives relevance, but the page it links to needs to be relevant to the content and the anchor text of the link itself to empower the link and make it stronger and more beneficial for us. There are also other factors that influence the value and importance of a link; mostly they are tied to the page where the link is placed.
  4. Website url - yes, even the url of the page is important, just like it is one of the factors that adds to total relevance of the page, it has the same effect on the link the same goes for:
  • Domain name
  • Domain authority
  • Page authority
  • Title tag

And also for every other factor that helps the page have more relevance. So the basic premise behind placing a link should be- is this the right place to link from and is the content supporting the link and the page it links to?

Exact Vs Partial Match

Exact or partial match, the question many SEOs disagree with and have different opinions. But since last updates Google had more and more SEOs are siding with partial match philosophy and ditching the exact match link building.

There is nothing wrong with exact anchor match, in fact they can give the most relevance and push the link and your ranks higher, but overusing it has its downside. For one, when people buy links they always use exact anchors, and Google knows that, so if they find that you have a great percentage of exact match anchors they will get suspicion and think you are trying to game the system, which you probably are.

Partial match anchors have great benefits, first of all you push the main keyword up, the relevance of your pages rises even more by adding more anchor variants, and you can also rank for more keywords faster, which can bring some decent amount of traffic your way even though you don't rank for your main keyword. But you have to be careful with long tail anchors containing partial matches, a wrong structure can change the meaning of the link and give search engines the wrong idea, example from above is perfect and if used for a sport shopping site it could go something like:

  • Running shoes (obviously the page is about running shoes, but it is broad so it can be used for anything, blog, store, review...)
  • Buy running shoes online (same here, but it is clearer that the link leads to a sports store)
  • Nike/Adidas/Reebok running shoes (same, but they know what brand to expect)

Examples that can change the meaning and dilute the relevance of the link:

  • Running with Nike shoes (the page it links to is about shoes, but in what way? A blog post, a review, a comment, image? )
  • Best running shoes (again, could be anything, a blog, review, video or a store, but no way to tell)

There was probably a better example, but you get the picture, when doing partial match anchor texts, make sure that the anchor clearly states what the page it links to is about, along with the content and the page it links from.

How To Vary Your Anchor

Here are some nice examples of how to vary anchor text for full effect, some of the combinations you can use:

  1. 'keyword'
  2. buy 'keyword'
  3. 'keyword' buy
  4. buy 'keyword' online
  5. 'keyword 1' 'keyword 2'
  6. for more information on 'keyword' visit: URL
  7. 'keyword': URL
  8. image link alt="keyword"

The proximity of the keyword to your link is also an important factor; you can have a simple URL link with no anchor text, but if the keyword is next to it or very close it will influence the relevance and your rankings. The same goes for alt tags and images.

In the end you want to vary your links not just by anchor, we need a diverse link profile, so using brand names to strengthen your authority, simple URL links as well as partial match anchors coming from all sorts of domains and types of website will help you achieve the goal behind your link building campaign. Remember; carefully choose the anchor text depending on the content of the page where your link is and to where you are linking. In some cases a URL link is the best choice, so don't force anchors everywhere, Google will see the relevance between the linking content and the linked content.

About the Author: Zarko Zivkovic

Zarko works as SEO strategist and link builder. He is the founder of Practical SEO Company and advanced SEO Strategist at Dejan SEO. He is also the chief editor and writer for Practical SEO blog.


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