Anchor text is the visible and clickable text in a link.
For example, if you want to create anchor text in HTML it will look like this:
<a href=https://fortunelords.com>Digital Marketing Education</a> and your visitors will see this:
Let’s see anchor text in action. Suppose we want to include in the sentence, “Check out these SEO resources on my cool website.”
If you do use anchor text, the sentence will be “Check out these SEO resources on my cool website.”
Anchor text is one of the most critical SEO factors that Google use to rank your website, so it behooves you to know how to implement it properly.
We’ll first talk a little bit about the history of anchor text as an SEO metric, then define all the types of anchor text, and finish up with a few tricks that you can put into action quickly.
Before we jump further into anchor text, a quick history lesson is in order.
The largest single change to Google’s ranking algorithm came circa 2012 in their infamous “Penguin Update.”
This update targeted spam websites and those that went against Google’s quality guidelines.
How did the Penguin Update change the search algorithm relative to anchor text, though?
Before Penguin you could game Google and create only exact match anchor links to your website and rank easily for almost any keyword.
This is not possible anymore because Google builds link profile for each site and if you over-optimize your anchor text, you most likely will get a harsh penalty.
In a result, you will lose your organic rankings and traffic.
Now, you’re acquainted with the history of anchor text let’s look at the types of anchor text.
Think of anchor texts as different niches for creating backlinks. Each of these has a purpose, but can’t be overused without penalty.
This is the simplest and most antiquated of the anchor text types. The anchor text in an exact-match is the same keyword that we’re trying to optimize our site around.
For example, if you were trying to rank your site for the keyword “start a blog,” you’d have an exact match if your anchor text occurred like so:
Partial match anchor text is similar to exact-match anchor text, but it’s not an exact match.
Partial match anchor text can be larger than just the keyword or contain only half of a multi-part keyword. If our exact match keyword is “Google alerts.”
A partial match example will be:
Long tail anchors are similar to partial match anchors but are much longer. For example, I want to rank for “WordPress SEO,” and I also rank #2 for this long tail variation:
Branded anchors are unique to established websites that have a brand, and may occur in sentences that contain keywords.
Generic anchors are anchor texts which don’t contain a keyword of any kind, but rather contain a prose cue for the reader to follow the link associated with the cue.
Naked link anchors are a bit of a misnomer since they’re not an anchor text at all.
Naked link anchors simply use the full URL as the “anchor text.”
Google uses the “ALT” tag of the images as the anchor text. Using image links is a great way to diversify your link profile.
The brand and keyword anchor texts include both your site’s brand as well as the target keyword together in the same link. For example:
LSI anchors are anchor texts which are closely related to the keywords that you’re optimizing your site for, but not the exact keyword. LSI anchors are typically synonyms of your keyword phrase.
When you search on Google, you get LSI keywords at the bottom of your search page.
In the example, above I searched for “work at home” Bottom line – it is good to have LSI anchors in your link profile as long as they match the topic on your page.
Now that you know all about the different types of anchor text, you may be wondering what to do with this information.
First, you need to have the right distribution of anchor text if you want to get high Google rankings.
If all of your anchor texts are of the same type, Google will penalize you. Ditto for only two types.
Next, you’ll need to make sure to avoid low-quality links, which will get you in trouble quickly.
There is not an ideal breakdown of the different types of anchor text. But usually a well-established website profile will look like this:
As you can see, you’ll need the highest percentage of branded anchor texts and to a lesser extent naked links if you want to rank well per the current search algorithm.
Note: The above breakdown is not always ideal.
There are many other factors which included such as your industry, domain authority, the age of your website, the speed you are getting links, etc.
Ahref’s case study on anchor texts is a great resource which breaks down the influence of each kind of anchor text when it comes to your search ranking.
You’re probably hunting for a drop dead simple way to figure out the best anchor text distributions within your niche after learning about why it’s important.
A quick and effective trick that you can use involves spying on the top ten search results within your niche or your keyword.
Check out their distributions of anchor text types, and compare it to yours. You can use Ahref or Majestic.com.
The best we know is that it’s good to have a small percentage of exact match anchor texts for your links, with about 2-3% as ideal.
For now, the same goes for LSI anchor text, though as Google’s search algorithm gains complexity, it’s likely that LSI anchor text will become much more important than it is currently.
Finally, you’ll want the majority of your links to be partial match anchors and branded anchors with the understanding that branded anchors are the most effective when your brand is extremely strong.