Anchor text: what it is, why it matters, and how to optimize it

Many people are now familiar with links.

Links form the infrastructure of the web and enable you to jump from one website to another.

While links are sometimes included in the text as is (e.g. https://blog.hubspot.com), they are usually included with an “anchor” to make the user’s reading experience more enjoyable.

Let’s examine what anchor text is and why it matters. You will also learn how to optimize your anchor text for SEO.

What is anchor text?

Anchor text is the clickable text that links two web pages together. Ideally, the destination URL points to relevant information about the topic covered on the source page.

Anchor text is also known as Link title, Link text, or Link label.

Why is anchor text important?

Simply put, the anchor text provides context for both users and search engines. The link label indicates what a user will see on the linked page when they click on it. On the other hand, search engines use anchor text to index and rate web pages.

This is where relevance comes into play. If the content being referenced is not relevant to the particular topic, it can cost your website visitors as it will result in a poor user experience. And when it comes to search engines, your website will be moved down as the linked content does not add value to the user.

Using anchor text carefully can increase your readers’ trust in your brand as well as the content you share on your website. In addition, it will boost your SEO efforts by giving search engine crawlers the right signals.

How do I create anchor text?

Let’s examine the building blocks of a hyperlink and figure out where the anchor text fits.

Hyperlink anatomy newA basic hyperlink has three parts – the Anchor element tags, a rel = “noopener” target = “_ blank” href attribute and the Anchor text (see picture above). Start with an opening anchor tag to include a hyperlink with a link label in your content: .

Next, insert the target url with the rel = “noopener” target = “_ blank” href attribute (rel = “noopener” target = “_ blank” href = “”) by placing it inside the opening anchor element. Then add your target webpage between the quotation marks.

Finally, the anchor text moves between the opening and closing anchor tags.

Depending on the content you’re linking to, you may want it to open in a new window. The option is usually reserved when you want to link to a useful resource that is on a different domain but still want to keep your readers’ attention. To do this, just add that Target attribute and put it on “_empty”::

Your anchor text goes here

Images can also act as anchors. Note that the syntax of the HTML code is slightly different. Instead of adding the source of your image inside the opening anchor tag, add that Day between the opening and closing anchor days. All you have to do after that is add that src = “” attribute and put the source url of your image in the quotes.

You may have noticed for a second alt attribute. Visually impaired people who use screen readers and web crawlers need text-based information to understand what is shown in the picture. It is therefore a good idea to describe your images by filling in the alt attribute.

Types of anchor text (with examples)

Before we dive into the best way to use anchor text for SEO purposes, let’s take a look at what types of link labels there are.

Types of anchor textExact match

As the name suggests, the exact match anchor text is a specific keyword that the target website is trying to rank for. Let’s say you are the webmaster of a knitwear store and want to rank higher on the keyword “knit patterns”.

One way to achieve this is to have a relevant domain link to your web page with knitting patterns using the keyword of the same name. Use them sparingly, however. Otherwise, you can disable the google spam filter and be penalized for spam behavior.

Phrase match

Similarly, the phrase match link title is made up of a specific phrase that your website is trying to rank for. Back to knitting patterns for example: Those who are not very familiar with knitting may be looking for a simpler pattern. As a result, they may be looking for “beginner knitting patterns”.

Partial match

This type of anchor text is similar to the phrase match text. The only difference is that a variation is used instead of the exact formulation of the keyword. As:

“Knitting Patterns for Beginners” = “Beginners Guide to Knitting Patterns”

Branded

Website names and brand anchor texts are quite common. For example, I can use HubSpot’s blog as a link label when I want to refer to that blog’s homepage. Do you see what i did there?

Generic

Easily one of the most famous anchor texts. These are typically used for ads and CTA buttons. Typical generic anchor text includes phrases such as “click here”, “read more”, or “buy now”.

Bare url

Do you remember how I linked to HubSpot’s blog by including “https://blog.hubspot.com” at the beginning of the article? Link text that uses the URL as an anchor is known as URL naked anchor text.

Image anchor / No text

As the saying goes, a picture is sometimes worth a thousand words. Fortunately, it can also be used as an anchor. Don’t forget to add descriptive text to your picture as search engines will use it to help understand what the picture is about.

How to optimize your anchor text

Just getting to know the different types of anchor text does not guarantee you higher SERP rankings. Below are some best practices for tweaking your anchor text to get you started.

1. Make it clear that the anchor text is distinguishable.

Many platforms offer various website customizations. Some of these mix the anchor with the surrounding text. Make sure users know that the anchor is clearly marked and clickable.

2. Don’t mislead your readers.

Always keep your promise when you link to other websites and provide the agreed content.

3. Keep the natural flow of your writing.

While most try to approach this task strategically and focus on exact matches and phrase matches, that’s not how natural language works.

4. Keep your links relevant.

If you’re posting time sensitive content, make sure to check your links and keep them updated.

5. Always consider search intent.

Remember to consider the reader’s search intent and confirm that it matches the context of your content.

6. Avoid keyword stuffing.

It goes without saying that keyword filling will draw the wrath of the Penguin update penalizing over-optimized anchor texts and low quality hyperlinks.

7. Diversify your anchor text profile.

A natural link profile is diverse. Excessive manipulation of link labels will result in your website being penalized.

8. The link text should be short and sweet.

Although Google looks at both the anchor and the surrounding text, they are not anchoring large blocks of text.

9. Clean up URLs if you are using bare anchors.

Nobody likes long winding url strings. Keep it short and simple.

10. Keep an inventory of your links and anchors.

A library with all your links and labels helps not only with the optimization process, but also with site audits.

So what now? The best way is to develop an optimization strategy that makes sense for both your customers and your company.

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