What is anchor text?
Anchor text is simply a text used in a hyperlink that appears on a website. It can be any word, any signs or numbers, and any other character. You can use any character supported by HTML. But to be effective, it should be relevant to the page you’re linking to. Search engines not only analyzes the link which is used in one article, but it also analyzes the anchor words used for it. There are nine different types of text anchors that you can use for your content. Each one can be used more effectively in different kinds of situations.
Nine types of anchor text
If someone asks, “What is anchor text?”, a quick answer can be clickable links that say “Click here” or “Get More Info”. Examples mentioned are part of a category called the Generic Anchors. This type of anchor text gives the least information about the webpage where it’s linked. It is unrelated to any significantly related keywords for your site. Generic Anchors are not used often, but it should still be included in your website to keep it looking natural.
Branded anchors are the opposite of generic anchors: the more brand-related an anchor text is, the better. For example, if your brand’s name is “Clouds”, you should have at least a 70% total inbound link, which uses “Clouds” as the anchor text. Google uses branded anchors to differentiate a spam website to a legit one. All the branded anchor text hitting your site will contribute to your credibility and relevance as a brand in your industry.
Naked Link Anchors
A text anchor is classified as naked if the text used is the site’s URL. For example, if your website is www.clouds.com, the naked link anchor for this is www.clouds.com. Naked link anchors are safe to use and are considered as “natural” by most of the search engine algorithms. For the best SEO anchor text practices, your site’s overall anchors should at least consist of 20% naked links.
Brand + Keyword Anchors
Brand + keyword anchor is a different kind of text anchor that can be used safely and is easy to use naturally. This is the Branded Keyword anchor, but with a significantly related term attached. The attached keyword should be something that helps you rank. Continuing with the Clouds example, suppose that you’re a company offering cloud storage, an example of brand + Keyword usage is “online storage services by Clouds”. Here, you’re associating your brand to online storage services, which is a term used by a lot of people seeking for this kind of service.
Most images you can find on the internet don’t contain a link. But if it did, the linked image is also going to be analyzed by Google. That’s why you should put an alt tag to each of the images that you use as an anchor, especially if the image is relevant to the webpage. If you leave the alt tag, Google will automatically receive the “noText” anchor, which is unrelated to your brand.
After allocating the majority of your anchor texts to branded, naked, and generic anchors, the rest can be allocated to other anchor types. A more diversified link and text profile mean that you’re going to have an easier time dealing with Google’s algorithm. One of the anchor types you can use is the LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) anchors, which uses keywords related to your main ones.
Using another “Clouds” brand example, if your primary service is online storage, you should also use keywords that might sometimes be added in the user’s search term. Examples of LSI anchors for Clouds are “reliable online storage”, “online storage services”, “online storage space,” and more related keyword synonyms.
Partial Match Anchor Text
Partial match anchor is a set of words in which at least one in your main keyword is used. Although this type seems very similar to LSI anchors, there is a big difference between the two. In LSI, the main keyword is still in the whole anchor. However, in the partial match, there is a word or two that are not used. For example, the main keyword you use for the Cloud’s brand is “online storage”, a possible partial match anchor text would be something like “best cloud storage” or “fast online drive.”
If you want a more descriptive anchor text, using a long-tail anchor is your best bet. Long-tail anchors are texts which are longer and use less popular keywords. To continue to Clouds brand example, not all people will type in “online storage” in the search bar. Some people will likely use “online drive”, “cloud storage”, or “a place where I can store my photos online”. This is where the long-tail anchor shines: it catches other keywords that are not as relevant as your main keyword but is still related. For long-tail anchors, the amount of it should be at least 2% of your overall anchor texts.
Last but not least is the Exact Match anchor text. This means that if your keyword is “online storage”, the anchor text should be the same, like this example: “online storage”. Exact match anchor text is considered the most important anchor type because it is directly relevant to your brand. However, if your site has a lot of exact match anchor text, you would likely be penalized by Google.
The reasoning behind that is the fact that these are often spam. You’ll likely receive the penalty if other pages on your website are peppered with your primary keyword and if you don’t have a diversified link profile. You should receive between 1% and 5% of the exact match anchor text to consider it optimal.