Understanding Anchor Text and How to Use it Well

Links are a huge part of SEO and there are many different kinds of links. Internal links guide page visitors to different pages within the same website. Backlinks drive website traffic from a publisher’s website to your company’s site. External links are used to reference studies, products, samples, and more. There are many other kinds of links, but you get the picture. 

While each of these links are different, they do have one thing in common – anchor text. 

Every link has some kind of anchor text. In this post, we’ll discuss what anchor text is, different types of anchor text and how to use them, why anchor text is important, and tips for success.

What is anchor text?

Anchor text is highlighted and clickable text that links to another location, document, or piece of content. Here’s an example:

When writing online, it’s common to add hyperlinks within the body of written content and the best way to smoothly incorporate those links into blogs and articles is by customising the anchor text. In the example above, the phrase guest post is the anchor text for a link to our guest posting services page.

There are many different ways to use anchor text and some approaches are more effective than others. Let’s discuss some of the main types of anchor text: Generic Links, Article Titles, Brand Names, Website Names, The Entire URL, Exact-Match Keywords, Keyword Variations, and Images.

  • Generic Links: It’s easy to use phrases like ‘click here,’ ‘read more’ or ‘learn more’ when creating anchor text for the first time. While you can use generic phrases as your anchor text, it’s best practice to avoid it. If a blog post about SEO included a link to the company’s SEO services page, here is an example of what the anchor text would look like with a generic phrase vs more specific anchor text.
    • Search Engine Optimisation is no easy task and our team is here to help you! Learn more about our services today.
    • We know that SEO isn’t easy, that’s why we created a variety of SEO packages to help you take your business to the next level.

You can see how the first option is clear, but the anchor text ‘learn more’ doesn’t give a clear representation of what is being linked. The second option, however, links the words ‘SEO packages’ which tells readers that the link will take them to a page with SEO packages. 

  • Article Titles: Article titles are the perfect type of hyperlink for page visitors who are skimming the content on your site quickly because they clearly state what is being linked. Even if readers aren’t reading through your content quickly, using article titles is a best practice for anchor text. You can use article titles within the body of a piece of content or you can add a list of related articles at the end of a post.

Here are some examples of how you can use article titles as anchor text in your content:

  • We give you all the tips you need to get started in our Guide to Internal Linking for Beginners. → The underlined text is a hyperlink that takes users to an article with the same title.
  • Interested in learning more about SEO? Check out these related articles: Why Internal Linking Matters in 2022, How to Use Backlinks to Boost SEO, 10 Strategies to Boost SEO in 3 Months. → These 3 links can be listed between paragraphs, off to the side, or at the bottom of the article.
  • Brand Names: You can use a brand’s name as the anchor text if you want to include a link to the brand’s site. This is a great strategy to use when creating external links to another company’s homepage. 

For example, if you’re writing an article on the top ten global shoe brands you may include external links to Nike, Adidas, or Puma.

  • Website Name: Using a website name is another type of anchor text. It’s a lot like using the brand name, but instead, you link a brief version of the URL. This strategy doesn’t look as clean for contextual links and isn’t recommended, but it’s doable.

Let’s go back to the top ten global shoe brand article examples above. Instead of using the word ‘Nike’ as the anchor text, you would use ‘Nike.com’ as the anchor text.

  • The Entire URL: Just like how the website name anchor text is not recommended, it’s even more discouraged to use the entire URL when it comes to incorporating them inside a blog, unless you’re adding them as a reference style anchor. Anchor text should be clear and concise. Using an entire URL can be short and sweet sometimes, but often the URL is so long that it becomes an eyesore. 

This would be like linking to a specific product on the Nike website like the Nike Air VaporMax 2021 FK, but instead of linking the product name, you use this link instead – https://www.nike.com/t/air-vapormax-2021-fk-mens-shoes-NpTfFz/DH4084-002 

When crafting reference pages or a list of sources, it may be beneficial to use the entire URL instead of linking to a product name or article title.

  • Exact-Match Keywords: Instead of using article titles or product names, you can use keywords as anchor text for your links. This is a great way to ensure your content is optimised to include the targeted keywords that relate to the core content and the linked content. 

If you’re writing an article on off-page SEO and you want to include links to an article titled ‘Build Links Build Authority’ some keyword phrases you can use as anchor text are backlinks, website authority, or brand authority. Another article titled ‘How Guest Posting Can Boost Your SEO’ could use keyword phrases like guest posting, backlinks, or sponsored content as anchor text.

In our recent blog post, 12 Must-Have Tips for Promoting Your New Website, we linked the keyword phrase how to utilize social media to link another article called How to Utilise Social Media as Your Next Biggest Marketing Tool

  • Keyword Variations: In some instances, using an exact keyword phrase might not be the perfect fit for the link. In those instances, you can use variations of your targeted keyword phrases to craft a smooth contextual link. 

This will vary based on the situation but here are some tips to keep in mind when using keyword variants:

  • Stay close to the target keyword phrase. Search engine bots scan anchor text when crawling and indexing information on your site. 
  • Use the pillar and cluster model to brainstorm keyword variations. The pillar topic is the broad topic you want to rank high for on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and the clusters are groups of subtopics that fall under or within the pillar topic. 
  • Keep it clear and concise, so your readers can easily understand the subject of what is being linked.
  • Images: I know it’s not exactly intuitive to think of images when ‘anchor text’ implies words not pictures. But just hear me out. If you create a CTA (call to action) that has a button, the text that is written on the image of the button counts as anchor text. So, if you have a purple button that says ‘Download the SEO 101 PDF’ at the bottom of a sales page, the anchor text is clearly prompting the user to take action. 

We have several CTA buttons across our site. On our Link Building Packages page we have a button that says ‘Discover Our Link Packages.’

In other instances, the image itself could be a link. For example, if a blogger uses a product image when crafting a product review article, they can turn the image into a link. Once the image is clicked on the page visitors could be taken to a product information page or a sales page so they can learn more.

Why is Anchor Text Important?

As you can see, not all anchor text is created equally. When creating contextual links, or links within the body of a sentence or paragraph, anchor texts like article titles and keywords are preferred because they have a positive impact on user experience and SEO.

New and existing page visitors want to feel confident navigating through your site. And you want to keep them on your site as long as possible, so they can eventually convert to a customer. Having article titles and keywords as anchor text in blog posts and on web pages gives readers a sense that you’re an authority on your chosen topics simply because you have a robust collection of content linked to specific words.

This is great for SEO as well because when search engine bots crawl and index information about your site, one of the main elements they consider are links. Internal links form a broad map of your website for bots and give them an overview of what your site has to offer. If you aim to increase your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness on a topic, repeating keywords throughout the anchor text is a great place to start. 

Here are some things to keep in mind when using anchor text and creating links:

  1. Link anchor text to reputable websites. Make sure you review all of your links before you publish content and only include links that are safe and relevant.
  2. Keep anchor text clear and concise for contextual links. If you’re including a full article title or a phrase that simply cannot be cut down, that’s okay. But if you’re just using target keywords, keep it brief.
  3. Make sure your links stand out. Usually, links are a bold colour and underlined.
  4. Use the pillar and cluster model to brainstorm keyword phrases and variations that you can use when creating anchor text for contextual links.
  5. Anchor text means nothing if the link is broken. Regularly check for broken links. You can use our free Broken Link Checker to make sure all of your links are healthy.

How you choose to use anchor text is ultimately up to you but hopefully this article will help put things into better perspective.