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A Deep Dive into Anchor Text for Offsite SEO

26th October 2023

In the realm of links, it’s important to recognize that not all links are of equal value. The quality of a link, as perceived by Google and the end user, depends on various factors.

We have covered links in a lot of detail in the past including how to measure the value of a backlink to your site and how to get links in the first place, this week we look at anchor text optimisation, and how it can be used to strengthen your offsite SEO and backlink profile.

What is anchor text? 

Anchor text is the clickable text within a hyperlink. It is a visible and often underlined part of a web page or document that, when clicked, takes the user to another web page or resource on the internet. Anchor text serves as a brief label or description of the linked content, providing users with a clear idea of what to expect when they click the link.

What are the different types of anchor text? 

There are several different types of anchor text that you can use when you are creating content for your site and they all have a role to play when it comes to SEO.

Exact Match Anchor Text:

Definition: This type of anchor text precisely matches the target keyword or phrase you want to emphasise.

Example: If your focus keyword is “digital marketing,” the anchor text used would be “digital marketing.”

Usage: Exact match anchor text can be potent for SEO when employed naturally and sparingly. However, excessive use may raise suspicions with search engines, potentially leading to penalties.

Partial Match Anchor Text:

Definition: Partial match anchor text includes a portion of the target keyword or phrase, often in combination with other words.

Example: For the target keyword “best SEO practices,” the anchor text might read “learn about the best SEO practices.”

Usage: Partial match anchor text strikes a balance by incorporating keyword elements while providing additional context. It can be effective for both SEO and user understanding.

Branded Anchor Text:

Definition: Branded anchor text employs the brand or company name as the clickable text.

Example: When linking to Apple’s homepage, the anchor text simply states “Apple.”

Usage: Branded anchor text is vital for establishing brand recognition and identity. It’s also a safe choice as it’s less likely to trigger search engine penalties.

Generic Anchor Text:

Definition: Generic anchor text consists of non-specific phrases like “click here,” “read more,” or “learn more.”

Example: “Click here to read the latest news.”

Usage: While not particularly descriptive, generic anchor text enhances user experience by providing clear guidance on where to click. However, it holds less SEO value due to its lack of keyword relevance.

Image Anchor Text:

Definition: Image anchor text pertains to links associated with images and is derived from the image’s alt text.

Example: Clicking on an image with the alt text “digital marketing services” is equivalent to clicking on anchor text with the same text.

Usage: Image anchor text is critical for optimising image-based links. It aids search engines in understanding the linked image’s content and contributes to SEO efforts.

What is the purpose of anchor text?

Anchor text first and foremost is designed to aid the user experience, if you are using exact match anchor text that does not make sense in the content it is linking from then this will not be a good user experience and it will not have a positive impact on SEO. It is meant to give the user an idea of the content they are clicking through to, this goes for both human users and search engines crawl bots. In terms of its purpose for SEO, there are a few use cases that include optimisation for specific keywords, better internal linking and backlink building from other sites.

What are the best practices for anchor text?

If you are looking to optimise both your internal and external links for your site, make sure you use the following best practices to improve SEO without appearing spammy:

Relevance is Key:

Ensure that your anchor text is relevant to the content it’s linking to. This helps users and search engines understand the context of the link.

Diverse Anchor Text Types:

Use a variety of anchor text types, including exact match, partial match, branded, generic, and image-based, to create a natural-looking backlink profile. Avoid overusing any one type.

Keyword Research:

Conduct thorough keyword research to identify relevant keywords for your content and use these keywords naturally throughout your content.

Contextual Linking:

Embed your anchor text within the context of your content, it should flow naturally within the sentence or paragraph.

Natural Language:

Write anchor text that sounds like a natural part of the content. Avoid overly keyword-stuffed or forced-sounding phrases.

Avoid Over-Optimization:

Don’t over-optimize by using exact match anchor text excessively. This can trigger search engine penalties. Use exact match sparingly and strategically.

Branded Anchor Text:

Include branded anchor text when appropriate, especially for links to your homepage or brand-specific content. It builds brand recognition and trust.

Bonus tip: Use anchor text to improve your ONSITE SEO

In addition to its potential to drive better results for your offsite SEO, anchor text is also an important element of your internal SEO.

Using a tool like Screaming Frog, you are able to find internal links within your site, and these are crucial when it comes to signifying to Google what the important pages are and where you want the link equity spread. Using the following steps, you can start to optimise these internal links from an anchor text perspective:

1. Use a tool like Screaming Frog (or Google) to find mentions of a keyword you are looking to target on your site, for this example we are looking to increase our internal links for ‘SEO audits’.

2. Dive into the specific pages and find mentions and content that makes sense to include a link back to the SEO audits page for:

3. Add the link! Rinse and repeat, keep track of the ones you have tweaked and you are well on your way to building optimised internal links (with sensible anchor text on your site).

Get in touch to learn more

If you are interested in our SEO audits or want to learn more about how anchor text and both internal and external links can improve your SEO, then get in touch with the Varn team today.

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About Varn

Varn is an expert & specialist SEO search marketing agency. Technical SEO * AI & Data Analytics * Offsite SEO * Paid Search

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