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What is anchor text and how does it affect SEO?

The Google algorithm is still developing, and more and more ranking factors affect the positioning of the page. One of them is the content of the link, i.e. the so-called. anchor text. Many marketers, both beginners and veterans, do not give it the attention it deserves. Check what exactly anchor text is, why it is important for SEO and how to optimize it to support the SEO of a store or service website.

Anchor text – what does it mean?

What is anchor text, otherwise known as anchor text or anchor text? It’s the text you click on to take you to a different URL on the web – either within the same site or outside. It anchors (connects) two different locations on the internet. Anchor texts usually take you to another web page, but they can also initiate a file download or take you to a PDF file. To ensure your safety, it is a good idea to hover over the anchor text first. The URL to which the anchor points will then be displayed and you can check if it is suspicious. Usually, the anchor text is distinguished from the rest of the content on the page by a different color of the content and underlining. Most often, anchors are distinguished by a blue color, but their style can be changed by editing the HTML and CSS code.

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Neil Patel uses an interesting comparison in the context of anchors. It assumes that the Internet is a highway, and anchors are signs informing about individual exits from the highway.

Why is anchor text important in SEO?

Links are important for SEO, and anchor content is an integral part of them. Why is anchor text important in SEO? This is due to several reasons:

– anchor content allows users to understand what they will find on the page to which they are directed – the content of the anchor is a kind of promise for the user regarding the content that is located at the linked URL,

– anchor texts inform Google robots what the content on a given subpage is about – algorithms use anchor content to make sure that you do not engage in spam activities and to better understand the subject of the page to which the link leads – for this purpose they analyze not only the content anchor itself, but also its context and content before and after it.

Types of anchors in SEO

Anchors can be divided, due to the type of content used, into:

brand anchors that contain the name of your company in the content, e.g. visible agency – this is a particularly recommended practice in the case of incoming links added on external websites – it allows you to build brand authority and at the same time strengthen the website’s SEO,

anchor texts in exact match – occur when as part of the content of the anchor you use the main phrase for a given subpage, e.g. SEO agency for the homepage of the visible agency or anchor positioning of online stores for the URL address presenting the SEO offer for e-commerce,

anchor texts in partial match – these are the content of anchors that, apart from the main keyword, contain other words, e.g. “Try the best SEO tools” – this is an effective method that allows you to use a keyword in anchors without the risk of being accused of spamming,

related anchor texts – this is the content of the anchor that does not contain the exact keyword, but a related word, e.g.

naked url – a bare url can also be used as anchor text; this is not a common practice, but it occurs, for example, when we provide the source of a quote or photo,

general anchor content – these are anchors that do not contain keywords, only general words encouraging to click on the link, they can be used when you want to attract the attention of recipients; example general anchors are “click here”, “learn more”, “see more” – do not overuse them, because they are not the best from the SEO point of view – they do not inform Google robots about what the linked page is about;

anchors with a long tail – this is the content of anchors containing a long tail, i.e. LSI keywords; these are semantic search phrases, most often in the form of questions, they can be found e.g. in the search window, when Google prompts you to complete the sentence – you can use such phrases as an anchor – it is the anchor text with the LSI keyword, e.g. What is anchor text, how much does website positioning cost, etc.

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anchors in the form of an image – there are also anchors in the graphic form – then clicking on the image takes you to another URL address; In these situations, you’ll need to complete the image’s alt description because Google will see the anchor content in it.

There are also anchors that combine two types, such as a branded anchor with a partial or exact match anchor. An example of such a mixed anchor will be, for example, a link marked with the content “Adidas running shoes” or “Paraphrase.Online text changer application”.

Just a dozen or so years ago, SEO specialists commonly used exact match anchors, placing them even several times on one page. This brought measurable results, but currently Google does not agree to such actions. An effective solution is to use different types of anchors on one page – do not overuse any of them. Also, avoid anchors in the form of links and long sentences – they can distract the user and discourage him from going to the link.

How many anchors to use and which ones to choose?

How many anchors in exact match is too much? The answer is not clear, and it all depends on the industry you operate in, the users you want to reach. The best tip is to use anchor content that is helpful to the user and helps them know in advance what content on the page will be waiting after clicking on the link. It’s always best to keep your anchors relevant, avoid over-optimization, and, above all, provide a positive user experience. Therefore, do not overthink the number of anchors and their types – use them in a natural way, with your audience in mind. If you really want to know the percentage of each type of anchor on one subpage, you can find it below:

– 30-40% are brand anchors,
– 30-40% are partial match anchors,
– 20-40% are other types of anchors (naked URLs, general anchors, exact match anchors, image anchors.

Anchors in SEO – strategies for using anchor texts

We already know that anchor content is important for positioning. Now we need to figure out how to optimize anchor text for SEO to support its effects and improve the user experience. Below you will find a number of useful practices that will help you make good use of anchors in positioning. SEO-friendly anchor text is one that:

– is concise,
– applies to the page to which the link leads,
– low keyword density,
– is not very general.

Anchor content analysis may have been influenced by the update of the Bert algorithm, which was implemented in 2019 and concerned natural language processing. From now on, Google’s algorithms probably analyze not only the content of the anchor itself, but also the content in its surroundings. That is why proper anchor optimization is so important.

Make sure your anchor text is accurate

Anchor text should consist of content and words that are closely related to the content of the linked page. If you have a blog post about the importance of content in SEO, you need to add a link to it with relevant content, e.g. See how content matters for SEO. Below you will find an example of an anchor and content – both the anchor and the headline on the linked page contain the same phrases. If the content of the linked page does not match the anchor, the user is likely to quickly close the page and not return to reading the content on the blog. It’s not just Google looking for relevance – users also don’t like being manipulated. This is confirmed by www.Paraphrase-Online.com‘s research on anchor text – according to them, having at least one anchor text containing a relevant key phrase creates a chance for a higher position.

Use different types of anchors in one content

If you consistently use only exact match anchors in one piece of content and throughout your site, Google may consider this to be spammy. This may result in lowering the position of your website in Google and loss of website traffic. You will get a similar effect if you constantly use anchors with the brand name or other. The most effective tactic is to use different types of anchors both throughout the site and within a single URL. Your own, unique and differentiated approach is the best strategy that will not expose you to penalties from Google. Anchor content guidelines may vary depending on the SEO expert, the industry you’re in, and the type of page. If you don’t have your own strategy for creating anchor content, get inspired by your competitors. See how to conduct a competitor analysis in SEO. Remember, however, that you can’t copy anchor strategies 1:1 – what works for the competition will not necessarily work for you. Make sure that the profile of anchors is as natural as possible and tailored to the expectations of recipients and Google robots.

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Pay attention to the content surrounding the anchor

The user, by clicking on the link, does not focus only on the content of the anchor, but also on the content surrounding it. We can assume that Google robots work in the same way. Even if the anchor is not a complete sentence, you need to take care of the content that comes before and after the anchor.

Do not neglect the descriptions of alternative images

Image alt descriptions are important for several reasons:

– help Google robots understand what the image is about,
– are a type of anchor content when the image is a clickable link,
– can help visually impaired people to familiarize themselves with the content of the image.

Image alt tags should be very descriptive and sound like a natural sentence. You can include key phrases in the description, but do it naturally – don’t overcrowd the phrases. Choose one main phrase and place it in the alt text.

Analyze and test your anchor content

Tracking the content of the anchors you use requires some effort, but it is the only effective way to verify how the anchors on your site affect SEO. The best tool for analyzing anchor content will be the paid Ahrefs tool. With it:

– you will find all internal links located at a specific URL,
– you will analyze the percentage share of individual anchor content on your website,
– you will analyze links in terms of their type (dofollow, nofollow, redirected and non-redirected links),

Anchors in SEO. Summary

Anchor content is important in SEO. By themselves, they will not make you find yourself on the first page of Google, but they are an important element of the website and store positioning strategy. It’s a good idea to implement your own anchor building strategy both within your site and in your backlinking process. Avoid spamming activities, take care of the natural profile of links, their brevity and relevance. In combination with other elements, it will bring effects in the form of improved recognition, authority building, traffic and visibility.

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