Despite the name, anchor text is not an emoji a pirate would send you. It’s not nearly that fun. But it is a critically important part of SEO — one that many businesses and even professional copywriters neglect.
In this post, we’re going to dive into everything you need to know about anchor text as it relates to your blog posts, landing pages and on-page SEO strategy at large. Let’s jump in.
Anchor text is the text you click on when you click a link online. You probably see it hundreds of times a day — it looks like this. On the surface, it’s that simple. But below the surface is a glacier’s worth of nuance that’s important for both on-page and off-page SEO.
Why does anchor text matter in SEO? Because Google “reads” that text and uses it to understand the relationship between the two websites or pages the link connects. By carefully curating your anchor text in links on and off your site, you can shape Google’s impression of your site and its individual pages and posts.
If the anchor text you use is off-topic, search engines will have a harder time understanding what your content is about and where it should place your site in the search results. With that said, if you stuff every single link with your exact keywords, Google is going to think you’re trying to game the system and may punish your site in the rankings. (Thanks a lot, Penguin Update!)
Off-Page vs. On-Page Anchors
If you do much reading about SEO, this is probably not the first time you’ve heard about anchor text. However, when you read about how anchor text affects SEO, you are usually reading about anchor text as it pertains to backlinks — that is, links from other sites that point at your site.
Backlinks are a part of off-page SEO that Hire a Writer doesn’t really deal in. We focus more on on-page SEO, and for the purposes of this post, we’re talking about anchor text used in content on your site for links that point to other pieces of content on your site.
5 Types of Anchor Text
Pretty much any text can be anchor text if you place it over a hyperlink. But that’s exactly the kind of spread shot approach you should avoid. Your on-page anchor text strategy needs to be focused and purposeful. In other words, you need to understand the types of anchor text and how they can impact your on-page SEO efforts.
There are five main types of anchor text for on-page SEO purposes:
You can also use images as anchors for links, but we’ll focus on the text-based anchors for now.
1. Exact Match
Exact match anchor text uses the exact keyword you are trying to rank the linked page for. For example, if you have a cryptocurrency website and want a particular page to rank for “cryptocurrency blogger,” an exact match anchor pointing to that page would use that exact keyword: cryptocurrency blogger.
2. Partial Match
When you use a partial match anchor, you’re using either a close variation on your targeted keyword or a part of the keyword but not the entire thing. If you were linking to a page on your site that you want to rank for the keyword “social media writer,” any of the following anchors could be considered partial match:
Writer for social media posts
Social post writer
Branded anchor text uses a brand name as the text. For the purposes of on-page anchor text selection, the brand concerned would be yours. So, if we want to use branded anchor text at Hire a Writer, our link would look like this: Hire a Writer.
This type of anchor text is pretty much what it sounds like: generic. It doesn’t tell you much about the page the link points to. It’s usually used in calls to action.
Here are some examples of generic anchor text:
Find out more
5. Naked URL
The name is saucy, but naked URL anchor text is actually pretty boring. It’s simply a clickable URL. Here’s what it looks like: https://www.hireawriter.us/
Anchor Text Best Practices
Like all deceptively simple topics, anchor text can get pretty complex when you start to dig in. To stay in the right lane, keep these anchor text best practices in mind as you’re getting started:
Vary your anchor text. If you only use one type of anchor text on your site, search engines are going to find that suspicious. Vary the types of anchor text you use, but in general, focus more on branded, partial match and exact match than on generic and naked URL.
Keep it relevant. Don’t mislead readers or bots with your anchor text choices. Make sure the text you use actually describes the content that it links to.
Make it natural. Sometimes, you know you want to link to a particular page, but you’re not quite sure how to fit the link into what you’re writing. It’s worth your time to ensure the link is inserted into the text naturally. If it’s forced in or looks out of context, you’re hurting your on-page SEO efforts — not helping.
Go for short. Anchor text needs to be succinct. Try to keep it around five words or fewer, and never include a whole paragraph or multiple sentences in an anchor.
Change the color. Don’t hide the fact that you’re linking to something. Most websites and website templates will underline and change the color of link text automatically. If yours doesn’t, take the time to make sure your links are easy to see in your copy.
Track it. To get a feel for what’s working and not working in your anchor text strategy, you need to track the anchors you use throughout your site. Each time you publish a new post or page, add the links, anchor text and type of anchor text to a spreadsheet so you can keep track.
Anchor Text: A Key Component of SEO Copywriting
Anchor text isn’t glamorous, but it’s worth investing some time and effort in if you want your business website to rank well in organic search. Even the best-written blog posts and landing pages can struggle to rank if you’re using poorly optimized anchor text. That’s why the Hire a Writer team pays special attention to this facet of on-page SEO.
Want expertly written, perfectly optimized blog posts (and anchor text) for your website? Talk to us.