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SEO is all about being as clear as possible to visitors and search engines. Anchor text helps with that. This is how you use them for SEO.

SEO (search engine optimization) can be made very complicated. But basically it’s simple:

1. Make sure your site works perfectly technically
2. Create relevant content for your ideal readers
3. Get links to your site and increase your popularity

You increase your relevance by, among other things, creating content that warms your ideal visitors. And to process the words they use when they search for it, via search engines.

Do you create valuable content around search terms and themes? Then you will be relevant faster and appear higher in the search results. You offer exactly what people are looking for.

With SEO you can optimize a lot of small and big things. The anchor text is one of them. But what exactly is it and how big is the influence on your rankings?

Anchor text links to other web page.

What is an anchor text? 

Let’s start at the beginning. Because what exactly is an anchor text?

  • An anchor text is the text that makes up a link. For example, if you place a link under the words discover everything about SEO , then ‘discover everything about SEO’ is the anchor text.
  • Do you add a link to an image? Then the link is under an image and not under a text. In that case, Google looks at the ALT text, the description you enter for the image.

💡 Hint . In general, it is wise to always provide images with an ALT text. The description helps search engines understand images better. People with a visual impairment also often use reading software, and these programs speak the ALT text for images. Therefore, describe briefly and powerfully what you see in the picture.

In practice, a website also often contains functional images, small images that are necessary for the operation of the site. You don’t have to describe them all, otherwise you will stay busy. Moreover, a description such as ‘png of 1 x 1 pixels in red’ is of little use to a search engine.

Anchor text gives search engines guidance

An anchor text gives a search engine something to hold on to. With a link under the words discover everything about SEO, it is immediately clear what the receiving page is about. That’s nice.

Search engines look at anchor texts on your own site and on other sites that refer to you. This way they better understand how others see your site. And what the pages on your site are about.

💡 Hint . Although you have little influence on how others link to you, you can do something. Become a specialist in your niche and share as much good information as possible. Do this for example in a blog. People like to share good information online. You share knowledge and insights on a blog. If others pick it up and like it, it often results in spontaneous links.

Internet users often post complete URLs on forums and via social media. Is someone sharing a link to your site and are there search terms in the URL? Then you immediately have a clear anchor text.

💡 Note . There are internal and external links. With an internal link, a visitor lands on a page of the same site. Clicking on an external link takes the visitor to a page outside the current site.

How does anchor text affect SEO?

Google has been using anchor texts since its inception to learn what web pages are about. According to the search engine, anchor texts are more objective than the meta descriptions that webmasters themselves give to pages.

Anchor texts from other sites to your site are totally important. They count extra heavily, because you cannot influence them. However? Wrong!

Although it is not allowed, you can buy links on other sites. If you pay enough, you can also influence the anchor text. For example, people bought thousands of links online under, for example, a search term such as ‘take out a cheap mortgage’. That worked fine for years, they scored on that term. Google eventually found out about the abuse, and put an end to it through several algorithm updates.

But no matter how you get them, you still need relevant links back to your site to beat the competition.

Types of anchor text and how to use them

Nowadays, Google takes a strict look at your link profile, the links to and from your site. If this is insufficiently varied or even manipulated, the alarm bells will go off. In extreme cases, it even results in a penalty.

Do you place internal and external links on your site? Then vary with anchor texts. Use these types.

  • General anchor text : click here for (search term), read more about (search term).
  • Branded anchor text : a link containing the name of your company or organization.
  • Branded + search term : for example Frankwatching – Online tips, trends & tricks.
  • Bare anchor text : a link under an exact URL, for example: read more at www….
  • Image anchor text : A link below an image. The ALT text of the image now counts as the anchor text.
  • Semantic anchor text : links below synonyms and variants of the search term for which you want to be found.
  • Partly exact anchor text : left below a longer combination of the search term you want to rank for.
  • Exact anchor text : exactly the words you want to score on at the bottom left. Exact anchor texts are the clearest, but also the fastest to indicate manipulation. Therefore use them in moderation.

In addition, do not be too forced to place links to other sites. If a link is valuable to a visitor, post it. This increases your reliability and indirectly the ‘trust factor’ .

How many exact anchor texts is too much?

There are plugins that allow you to automatically place links on your site. For example, if you have a holiday site and you often write holidays in France , the plugin will immediately turn it into a link. That seems convenient, but before you know it it becomes unnatural. You are over-optimizing.

Preferably do not use plugins for links and place them manually. Make sure the anchor texts are valuable to the user experience first and foremost. A link under the words ‘Discover the most beautiful summer holidays in France ‘ is just that.

If other sites link to you, you have little influence on the anchor text. That’s okay, although you can ask to make the anchor text a bit more SEO-friendly. No you have, and yes you can get.

What you should definitely not do is buy hundreds of automated links, with the same anchor text. It’s playing with fire.

💡 Note . Online you will find lists with the best ratio between types of anchor text. Here’s how SEMrush uses this rule of thumb:

  • Brand Anchor Text: 30% to 40%
  • Partial Anchor Text Match: 30% to 40%
  • Rest: 20% to 40%

As you can see, the percentages are very global. Therefore, analyze the anchor texts of well-scoring sites in your industry to get a feel for it. You can analyze with the SEO tools of SEMrush , Ahrefs and Moz , among others .

Step-by-step plan: this is how you use anchor texts correctly

Are you feeling a bit dizzy, and you don’t know what exactly to do with your SEO texts? Then follow this clear step-by-step plan.

1. Make anchor texts as clear as possible

If you place a link in a text, make sure that readers know exactly what happens when they click on it. Ideally, the linked text is enough for them. A link like calculate your mortgage is crystal clear.

2. Refer only to trustworthy websites

Help visitors as best as possible, and place a link where it is relevant. Refer only to sites you trust.

Do you not fully trust a site, but still want to place the link? Then make the link nofollow . Then Google will see the link and anchor text, but it counts less for SEO.

3. Use exact anchor texts sparingly

One internal link under the words black lace-up boots is not a bad thing. But using this exact link hundreds of times on your site is an indication of cheating. So vary your anchor texts and keep it natural.

4. When in doubt, keep anchor text generic

If you want to use links without search terms, you can always place the link under a company name. For example: according to Frankwatching it is…

5. Check your link profile

A natural link profile contains all types of anchor texts. Within your own site and from other sites. Check this, for example with Screaming Frog SEO Spider for internal links and Ahrefs , SEMrush or Moz’s Link Explorer for external links.

6. Don’t waste your time on low quality links

Buying links is not allowed, but it happens on a large scale. Are you considering it? Then know what you are doing and do not get involved with dubious parties.

It is better not to buy any links at all and to map out a smart content marketing and PR strategy. SEO expert Fery Kaszoni recently put it aptly on LinkedIn: “You can’t buy a link from a journalist. But you can provide him or her with valuable information, so that the link comes naturally.” If you do this right, it is also scalable.

💡 Note . Did you previously place a paid link to an advertiser on your site? Then Google wanted you to nofollow that link so it wouldn’t count for SEO. In 2019, Google adjusted the rules for nofollow links and introduced 2 new link types. Find out all about it in the article Google’s New Nofollow Rules: What They Mean for SEO .

Enough chatter, now write again quickly

You now know everything about anchor texts and you don’t have to apply most of it yourself. Above all, remember that the best link texts are immediately clear to readers and search engines. If you write them like this, you are correct in 9 out of 10 cases.