Blog: SEO
Small anchor in sand

What is Anchor Text? How to Optimize It For SEO

John Koinange

John Koinange is a digital marketing associate and regular contributor for the Lockedown SEO blog. His work has appeared in numerous online publications.

What is anchor text?

Anchor text is clickable text contained in a hyperlink. By default, web browsers will render anchor text in blue, with an underline, though web designers can customize how anchor text appears on a website.

The best practice is to make anchor text a different color than the surrounding, unlinked text (at a minimum). It is a best practice for accessibility and usability to underline linked anchor text, so it is easily identified as a link.

Ideally, the text in the link will give context about the page that is being linked. SEO best practices dictate the anchor text should be relevancet to the linked page, and avoid generic text, such as “Click Here” whenever possible.

Search engines may use the keywords in anchor text to give context to the content of the destination web page.

Illustration of Anchor Text

In the image above, the hyperlink is the target link, the text in the link is the anchor text.

Types of Anchor Text

Exact Match

As the name suggests, this is anchor text closely matching the linked web page. For example, a hyperlink with ‘digital marketing’ anchor text goes to a web page about digital marketing.

Partial Match

Occurs when there is a keyword variation in the anchor text compared to the linked page. For instance, using ‘digital marketing trends’ in a link to a page on digital marketing.

Branded Link

This is a situation in which a brand name is used as a link. For example, using the anchor text ‘Red Bull’ to link to the Red Bull website.

Naked Link

Refers to the use of a plain URL as the anchor text. For example, is a naked link.

Generic Link

A basic, non-descriptive phrase used as anchor text. Common examples are Click here or Read More.

Image Links

When an image tag (img in HTML) is wrapped in a hyperlink on a website, the text in the alt attribute is used as anchor text. If no ALT attribute text is present in the linked image, the anchor text is considered empty.

Importance of Anchor Text in SEO

Links are an integral element of any SEO strategy. Internal links are when you link to other pages on your website. External links are when one website links to another. Inbound external links are when another site links to your site. Outbound links are when your sites links to another website.

Internal links help search engines navigate and understand your site. Using contextual anchor text facilitates the crawling and indexing process, and plays a role in the interpretation of the linked content.

Let’s talk about internal linking for a second.

Once you internally link to a page using certain anchor text, Google uses that link as a validator for the phrase in the anchor text.

If there is an exact match between your anchor text and the keyword phrase, the search engines may try to figure out the most relevant article to rank for the specific keyword phrase. This affects the ranking. So, YES, anchor text can affect the ranking of pages on your site.

Furthermore, anchor text can improve user experience (UX). Anchor text clarifies to site visitors the value and context of the web page(s) that are linked.

Best Practices for Anchor Text

SEO best practices discourage the excessive use of exact match keyword phrases as the anchor text (especially with inbound links). When you have the opportunity to build links to your website from other sites, a large amount of branded and naked links, and a small amount of exact and partial match anchor text looks natural.

Using a large amount of exact match anchor text with external inbound links looks manipulative. Try to avoid overusing this tactic when linkbuilding.

When creating content for your own site, it’s okay to link to external sites, when you are referencing statistics, or giving context for a claim. However, using internal links to your own content, and cross-linking can show search engines which pages you consider most important.

Most importantly, robust anchor text offers the reader an expectation of what to expect upon clicking. Creating compelling anchor text increases the chances of being clicked, whilst providing the search engines context when crawling your site content.

Tips for Improving Your Anchor Text

Follow these pro tips to optimize your use of anchor text.

Build a Natural Flow

Writing must have a natural flow and the same holds true for anchor text. Ensure the applied anchor text sits well with the rest of the content. If you find yourself struggling to fit in the anchor text, chances are, that’s the wrong place. Find a better place where the text flows and sounds natural. Anchor text shouldn’t interfere with the logical flow of thoughts and ideas in order to communicate.

Avoid Tricking Users

Be forthright with your readers. If the anchor text says it links to a digital marketing web page, don’t send the reader to a fashion page. It’s indecent and a bad practice.

Make Links Clickable and Accessible

Use a different color than the surrounding non-linked text. Underline the anchor text to show the user that the text is clickable. This is proper accessibility and efficient user experience.

Avoid Keyword Stuffing

Just like keyword stuffing can overuse keywords in content, it’s also possible to overuse links. It’s okay to link to other sites, but remember to internally link to your own content. Limit the number of external links on a page, and look for opportunities to link to your own content. Additionally. When building inbound links, avoid a keyword-rich anchor text since it can affect the backlink profile. It may be deemed spammy and lead to tanking of your rankings.

Remember to match the link to the content you’re linking to. Make it obvious to the reader what to expect once they land on the page.

Need Additional Help with Your SEO?

At Lockedown SEO, we help industrial and manufacturing companies build their online presence and get meaningful leads. If you need help with SEO, get in touch and we can determine if we are a good fit to work together. With over a decade of experience in digital marketing, our process, execution, and professionalism helps clients increase their leads from organic search.

John Koinange

John Koinange is a digital marketing associate and regular contributor for the Lockedown SEO blog. His work has appeared in numerous online publications.

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