Anchor text & SEO: how to correctly optimize it
- Anchors texts play a critical role in SEO and user experience.
- There are at least 7 main categories of link anchor texts: exact match anchors, partial match anchors, generic link anchors, branded link anchors, URL link anchors, image link anchors, publication title anchors.
- There is no set rule for breaking down your link anchor texts. The most important thing is to vary them as much as possible.
- To create an anchor text, you need to go to the HTML code of your page, integrate the HTML element <a> (for anchor), to which you add the href attribute.
- To optimize anchor texts, you need to: vary the anchors, limit the number of keywords, check the quality of sites to which the links point, write relevant and informative anchors, do not use the same link anchor with the same URL several times.
- To avoid being penalized by Google Penguin, make sure you have not over-optimized your anchor texts
- You can use Cocolyze's backlink analyzer to check all your backlinks, their anchors, and the quality of the sites they come from.
Anchor texts are one of the most important parts of a net linking strategy. They have an essential role in search engine optimization. But misusing these anchors can have negative effects on your SEO.
Since you have control over the choice of your anchors, it is essential to know how to write them, how to optimize them to boost your SEO, and, most importantly, to know the tricks to avoid having your rankings penalized in the SERPs.
- Anchor text: definition
- The role of an anchor
- The different types of anchor texts
- Finding anchor texts in the HTML code
- How to optimize anchor?
- How to avoid Google Penguin?
- How to monitor link anchor with Cocolyze?
Link anchor text: definition
It is important to define each term that composes the word "link anchor text".
First of all, a link is a URL that allows you to go from one page to another. A link can be internal (within your own site) or external (to a third-party site).
An anchor text corresponds to the word, or group of words, on which the link is integrated.
Most often - it depends on the CSS used by the websites - the link anchor is the hypertext link underlined in blue and on which the mouse cursor turns into a finger when you pass over it.
What is the role of a link anchor text for SEO?
For several years, Google has clearly indicated its desire to offer quality content that meets the needs of Internet users. In this perspective, net linking and, even more importantly, link anchor texts have experienced a revival of interest, because they allow proposing connections between contents in order to enrich them. And this, Google, as well as users, particularly appreciate.
This is why link anchor texts are important on two levels:
- For SEO: they are a valuable indication for search engine robots, as they allow them to understand what is behind the hyperlink. Link anchors also tell them the origin and destination of the link.
- For the user experience (UX): writing a good link anchor text is a way to easily tell users what they will find when they click on the link. An anchor text is therefore an element that makes it easier for users to navigate. By writing link anchors correctly, there is little chance of having "error clicks" that will increase the bounce rate on the landing page - and reduce your reputation at the same time.
The different types of anchor texts
Before explaining how to choose your anchor texts and how to work on their optimization, it is necessary that you get to know the main categories of anchor texts that exist.
Anchors texts with an exact match
This type of link anchor has the advantage of being clear and precise. It allows search engines and Internet users to understand the content they will find behind the link, thanks to the presence of the keyword on which the content is ranked.
The partial match link anchor
There are some similarities between the exact match anchor and the partial match anchor, as the latter also uses keywords that are related to the topic of the page. The keyword appears in the link anchor, but it is accompanied by other terms related to the topic.
Two advantages of using a partial match link anchor:
- it allows you to integrate the anchor naturally into the content and to be able to modify and integrate it into the text
- it also allows you to maintain the relevance of the site by increasing the occurrence of the keyword on which you are willing to get ranked
The generic link anchor
These anchor texts are most often characterized as being designed to distract the user's attention. Unlike a link with a partial match, the generic link anchor does not blend naturally into the content. The link is therefore more prominent.
Among the most common generic link anchors are: click here, learn more, read article, etc.
The advantage of this type of anchor is that it clearly invites the user to click on the link to go to the targeted page.
Nevertheless, it can be complicated to integrate this type of anchor without deteriorating the fluidity of the text.
In addition, the texts that make up these anchors do not provide search engines with any indication of the subject matter. But do not worry, Google is now able to understand the theme behind a generic link anchor. Thus, the link juice remains effective.
The brand link anchor
As you may have understood, this type of anchor uses a name, a brand name or a website name. For example, I can use the name "Cocolyze" to redirect you to the content of our website, or to our blog. It is important to know that this type of anchor is normally used to direct visitors of a website to another page of the same website.
This practice is perfectly accepted by Google and fully participates in the improvement of the visibility and the organic referencing of a website.
The URL link anchor
As its name indicates, this is an anchor containing only a "raw" URL address, without any form of optimization (www.mywebsite.com/blog/le-netlinking).
When you use this type of link, be careful about the accuracy of the URL. In case of error, the destination page of the URL will not be accessible to visitors.
Also, it is recommended not to use URLs that are too long, as they reduce the fluidity of reading.
Needless to say, due to its lack of optimization, the use of a URL link anchor has less impact on SEO.
Image link anchors
These link anchors are integrated into the images. When you click on an image, you are redirected to the page indicated on the link embedded into the image. The image thus plays the role of an HTML button that redirects to a page.
To create this type of anchor, all you have to do is integrate the link anchor text into the alt attribute of the tag belonging to the image.
Anchors texts with the title of the article
These anchors provide your visitors with specific information about the content behind the link. They also contain precise information for search engines on the theme of the content.
On the other hand, integrating an anchor with a publication title can be complex if you want it to be natural. You will probably have to play with the words and their positions to achieve this.
How to distribute the different types of anchor texts?
It is necessary to vary the distribution of your anchor texts so that they appear as natural as possible on your pages. You should avoid using the same link anchor. This practice is considered as over-optimization and is penalized by Google, especially when you overuse exact match link anchors.
In general, it is recommended to distribute your links as follows:
- Between 40 and 50% of branded anchors
- About 20% exact match or partial match anchors
- Between 10 and 15% of URL anchors
- Between 10 and 15% of anchors with publication title
- About 5% for the rest of the anchors
Finding link anchors in the HTML code
As we explained earlier, a link anchor has an influence on SEO, just like the title tag. Well, I have to admit, it was just to show you an example of a link anchor😅.
But how do we technically create anchor links?
- Don't worry, there is nothing very complicated:
- Go to the source code of your web page
- Identify the word or group of words on which you want to integrate the link
- Integrate the HTML element <a> (for anchor), to which you add the href attribute
How it looks like on the page:
How to optimize your anchor text?
As we mentioned earlier, anchors links play an essential role in SEO. They can indicate important information for your visitors and for search engines, especially if you take the time to optimize them.
But how can you optimize your anchor texts?
1 - Vary the anchors
We will never stop repeating it, but it is easy to fall into the trap of over-optimizing anchor texts. With no less than 7 different kinds of anchors, don't hesitate to vary them and integrate them as naturally as possible into your content.
2 - Limit the number of keywords in the anchors
In the line of over-optimization, there is keyword stuffing.
Do not overload your anchors with keywords. And when you want to use keywords, do it with caution, using a rich and varied semantic field. In case of doubt, it is better to avoid integrating keywords in your anchors.
3 - Check the quality of websites
It is important to verify the quality of the sites to which your anchor links are pointing. Google and your visitors will not appreciate landing on dubious or "spammy" sites.
4 - Write relevant anchor text
Since anchors texts are a way to tell readers and search engines what is behind the link, it needs to be relevant and informative.
Google is able to "understand" word meanings That's why the whole text, and its quality, around your anchors is taken into account in the understanding of the anchor. So make sure you also write well-optimized content that naturally integrates your anchors.
5 - Do not use the same anchor with the same link multiple times
In a frenetic enthusiasm, you might think that using the same link anchor several times, with the same URL.
Often practiced unintentionally, this spamming technique is particularly sanctioned by Google.
If you want to promote a website several times on the same content, vary the anchors and do not excessively mention the site in the same content.
- Vary the anchors of links
- Limit the number of keywords in your anchors
- Verify the quality of the links' websites
- Write relevant and informative anchor links
- Do not use the same anchor, with the same URL, several times
How to avoid Google Penguin?
Remember the sentinels in The Matrix? Those octopus robots looking for the ships of the resistance fighters who are fighting against the supremacy of the machines.
Well, this metaphor fits perfectly with the algorithm that everyone fears in SEO, Google Penguin. Because under this cute little name there is a real machine to dismantle websites if they are caught out of line.
And if you get caught by the Penguin, it will be extremely difficult for you to find mercy in the eyes of Google.
Penguin is so feared today that we even talk about "deoptimization" of anchors, for fear of being sanctioned. But don't worry, if you carefully follow the advice we have given above, Google will leave you alone.
How to monitor your anchors with Cocolyze?
Obviously, in this context of tension created by the Google algorithm, it is essential to monitor your anchors, but also your outgoing links, as well as your backlinks.
Cocolyze's backlink checker tool allows you to analyze ALL the backlinks pointing to your website. The tool shows you :
- the source of the link
- the location of the website
- the quality of the website
- the anchor text used
- the date of creation of the link
You also have the possibility to see the links you have lost and to list unwanted links as toxic.