Let’s continue with the insights dedicated to the basics of SEO, and in particular we still focus on links and the proper management of these elements, fundamental not only for sites, but for the Network itself, as we said days ago. Today’s topic is about anchor text, which is a decisive part, and often neglected, of the strategy of optimizing both external and internal links.

What is an anchor text

Let’s start with the technical definitions: the anchor text is the word or group of words that lead with a click to a link to another online resource, the portion of text visible on the page linked to the link, and is useful for providing information about the link to users and search engines.

What are anchor texts for

The anchor texts, as we were saying, are useful to prepare users and search engine to click on the link and, therefore, to the content that is in the new page. The first and main function of the anchor text is therefore to provide an added and understandable context to the link, which can simplify the interpretation of the linked page.

How to create an anchor text in HTML

Creating an anchor text is extremely simple and, in practice, all editors allow you to easily insert a link to a text portion using icons (the classic with the chain link, present on WordPress, but also on Word and so on). From a computer point of view, in HTML the anchor text simply appears with the string <a href=”https://www.example.com”> Test Text </a>, where the words “Test Text” will usually appear in different colors or highlighted with underline, depending on the site settings.

Why anchor texts are important

Coming to the issues more strictly related to SEO and page optimization, the anchor text has a significant role (still) for the ranking on search engines, because Google uses the anchor text to evaluate the context of the linked page. For example: if I link to a page using the words “dog cookies”, the search engine will assume that the landing page addresses that topic; if another site also uses the same anchor text for another link, Google will strengthen its hypothesis and increase the chances for the linked site to rank high for that keyword.

Obviously, the one described is just an easy example and the management of Google anchor texts is much more complex, also because over the years it has been made a manipulative and forced use of these elements, which resulted in a reconsideration of anchor text as a ranking factor. Compared to the past, in fact, the anchor text is still fundamental in a backlink, but it is also an element that is very exposed to incorrect use that can lead to penalization of sites for spam or over-optimization.

Anchor texts in link building

The reference to backlinks is not causal, because anchor text is used a lot especially in link building campaigns, because it is believed that Google pays particular attention to these portions of text in ranking ratings. However, as we said talking about link building errors, a non-strategic approach to this activity can cause damage to the site, rather than advantages, because there are frequent cases of too optimized anchor texts, or disconnected from the on-page context of the destination, and so on.

There is another inaccuracy that often occurs in the management of the anchor text, and it concerns above all the internal links to the site: the absence of the anchor text or, better to say, the lack of care towards this element. In this case, to be penalized is above all the usability of the site and the link, because users do not immediately understand the usefulness of the linked reference resource, and at the same time you can lose a potential boost to the ranking.

The types of anchor text

It is important to have an idea about the various types of anchor text that can be used, both for internal links and for backlinks, because this awareness will allow you to vary in the use of text and to make the most of its potential. In summary, we have generic anchor text, branded ones, with exact matches (optimized), with url visible or on the image, and now we will see together their main features.

The naked and extended anchor text

The naked anchor text is the one that directly shows the URL of the link, including www or sometimes even the HTTPS protocol; this is a choice that can sometimes be made on blogs to refer directly to a specific page, but that is not optimal in terms of usability, as we said before.

Anchor texts with exact match of keywords

The most used and abused technique in SEO is that of the exact match, that is, the exact match between anchor texts and the main keyword of the article, but there are also the partial match anchor text (when you use the keywords in a partial way) and the long tail anchors, that we may know better. A useful solution for varying anchor text is to also use synonyms and terms semantically related to the keyword of interest, focusing on the so-called LSI anchors (where LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing).

What are the branded anchors

It is easy to describe branded anchors, which are those that contain the name of the domain, brand, site or blog: you can find both as a reference to the URL (www.seozoom.it or SEOZoom.it, for example), and referring only to the name (SEOZoom) with which that entity is known on the Web.

Call to actions, too, can become anchor texts, when the text serves to invite the user to perform an action on the site: in addition to the purely textual part, in these cases we try to encourage action and audience involvement with buttons, specific images and animations, which can make the message more visible and attractive.

Using anchor texts to help clicking on the link

In order to always provide a useful service to the user and to facilitate the click on the link, you can use descriptive anchor texts, both for internal and outgoing links: just choose text expressions that anticipate and describe the content of the landing page. Conceptually similar are the deepening anchor texts, in which, however, the title of the article itself is used as anchor, as in the case of in-depth links in an article or web page to other resources.

Writing an SEO anchor text

To write an effective anchor text you have to think on two levels: user experience and SEO optimization. The anchor texts, that is, must be twice useful, both to users and to the site itself for ranking on search engines, and to achieve the goal you have to choose simple, descriptive and understandable keywords for readers, but at the same time make sense for Google and its algorithms

In order to satisfy people, as mentioned, we must try not to use the links in an inaccurate way, use meaningless words or unaccounted for actions and content of the target resource. For the SEO, however, it is important to be able to link the anchor text with the user’s query and with the content of the document, always paying attention to the excesses of optimization, especially when talking about backlinks.