Everything you need to know about anchor text and SEO

Back in 2012 Google’s Penguin update fundamentally changed the way that SEOs approach linking, prompting the question Is Anchor Text Dead? The short answer is ‘no’ anchor text remains an essential ranking factor, but’s it’s also a good way to accidentally tell Google that you’re violating their webmaster guidelines. As is often the case in SEO the trick is to stay beneath the radar, mix things up, and keep your backlink profile looking natural.

10 Best Practice Tips when using Anchor Text

  1. Anchor text (or link text) is the clickable ‘text’ element of a link which appears on a webpage. If you consider that Google finds pages by following links, you can begin to understand why anchor text is integral to their search algorithm. And if anchor text is important to Google: it’s important to your SEO campaign.
  2. Anchor text acts as a signpost to tell search engine spiders where they are going. It’s the very first clue they have about their imminent destination, and you need to make sure that any inbound link text is as descriptive and as useful as possible.
  3. We know that Google interprets links as votes and anchor text allows webmasters to add an endorsement to each vote. A link with anchor text not only says to Google “hey I think this is worth visiting” but goes further and says “…especially if you are interested in ‘Search Engine Optimisation‘”.
  4. It’s essential that you vary the anchor for a specific page so that the link profile looks natural. If Google thinks you are trying to skew the results your site could be in serious trouble. By including plurals, synonyms and secondary keywords you are also targeting more search terms.
  5. Rookie optimisers often focus on inbound anchor text and overlook what’s right on their doorstep. Start closer to home and make sure all your internal anchor text is working for you.
  6. One way of boosting existing link love is to get in touch with anyone who is already linking to your site, thank them for the support, and ask if they could change the anchor text to something more advantageous. It’s quick, painless and really does pay dividends.
  7. As a measure of importance Google has developed a search operator which only lists pages containing outbound links with the specified anchor text. For example: if you type ‘allinanchor:SEO company’ into Google you get a list of pages which are already linking out to ‘SEO companies’ and using great anchor text. Google has in effect given you a list of potential linking partners.
  8. When asking webmasters for a link it’s much easier to control the anchor text if you supply the HTML code for them to ‘cut and paste’.
  9. For image-based links the alt attribute perform a similar function as anchor text.
  10. Links and anchor text alone can be used to rank a webpage, which is particularly useful for Flash homepages that Google has trouble digesting. It’s also a rather sneaky way of targeting additional search terms without cluttering-up your site with repetitive text.

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