How to optimize your anchor text strategy for SEO

Anchor text is an important part of search engine optimization. In fact, it’s one of the fundamental elements of link building and on-page optimization. You can usually recognize it as a clickable text that sends you to another page, whether it’s on the same or another website. In general, you don’t just connect links to random text. To get the best results, you will need to optimize your anchor text strategy for SEO. Here, we’ll discuss several different approaches to how to do it properly.

Optimizing your anchor text strategy for SEO

SEO is just one branch of a large digital marketing tree. Nevertheless, it doesn’t make it less important. On the contrary, it’s one of the major branches considering we are living in the digital era. So, you should not hesitate to invest in your SEO. With proper optimization, you will rank better on SERPs, and increase traffic to your website. As a result, it will potentially increase sales, revenue, number of customers, and similar. Before we go to anchor optimization, let’s clarify a few basic facts about anchors in general.

Screenshot of code with many links.
The entire link is in code, anchor text is its visible part.

What is anchor text?

In simple words, anchor text is a part of links that “sends” you to other pages. It’s a visible part you can click in which the address (URL) to other pages resides. Search engines use these anchors as a signal when evaluating the pages for rankings. As one of many ranking factors, overall, you need to follow specific guidelines when choosing the right text. But, the main purpose can be interpreted as a usefulness to both users and to search engines. With proper optimization, it will increase the authority and overall value.

Types of anchor text

Now, the second important thing to understand that there are several different types of anchor texts:

  • Naked anchors
  • Generic anchors
  • Branded anchors
  • Exact match
  • Image anchors
  • LSI Anchors
  • Partial match anchor text
  • Long-tail anchor text

Remember, the proper combined implementation of each type is necessary whenever you use links.

Optimization and the best practices

As mentioned above, its purpose is to be useful to users. When someone reads content on a page, anchor texts point out to a different source of additional information. Quite often, it points to a more detailed explanation, article, or even a product. By optimizing them, you give a better user experience (UX) of your website or page. That, for example, Google finds very valuable. Let’s see different ways to optimize your anchor text. Or, best practices, if you wish.

1. Keep them natural

One of the first rules is that anchor text needs to fit naturally within the content. After all, the content of your website is for users. You should avoid making content that is oriented toward bots. When trying to force a certain phrase, it might look artificial and is easily recognizable by both readers and engines. This is something you need to thoroughly think about when optimizing your anchor text. Failing to do so, in the worst case, will result in a penalty. That’s why you need to focus on providing high-quality content to your readers. At the same time, your links, and their associated anchor text, should point to useful content. In the long run, you will get better results if you keep your anchor texts natural.

A woman reading a book.
Natural content is easy to read, just like a book.

2. Keep them relevant

Another important long-term strategy is to provide relevant content with relevant links. As we all know, Google is focusing heavily on improving the user experience. And that “relevancy” has to exist everywhere. That’s why it’s punishing everything that gives no real value to the users. How to cope with this? First of all, try to think about what is best for the user. Change your perspective and observe things from the users’ angle. Imagine what would you do if you are looking for a certain term or phrase.

For example, if you are looking for a new HDD, you don’t need links pointing to shoes. The content your anchor text is pointing too has to have real value, and provide what it’s promising. Not just randomly change and jump from topic to topic. Eventually, this produces a high bounce rate and lowers the average time on your website. Which, finally, results in a lower ranking.

3. Don’t over-optimize

Or, should we say, don’t over-manipulate. This type of content is easy to recognize and can often be accounted for spam. Usually, if you stuff your content with an exact match keyword too much, it results in penalties. If you need to use a certain term several times, find its variations. For example, you own a pet shop and you have content about cat food. By repeating “tasty cat food” everywhere, you won’t get anywhere. But, you can use variations like “the best cat food”, “food your cat will like”, or “cat food for pets with a taste”, etc.

4. Avoid links from suspicious sites

While this is not directly connected with the anchor text itself, it’s very important. You should avoid using links from low-quality and suspicious websites. There is plenty of relevant content on the web for any possible term. In other words, when you have links and appropriate anchor texts, carefully do the research. There are many websites that are characterized as spam bases. By all means, avoid being in any “connection” with them. Because of their nature, it can reduce your site’s authority and ranking.

Stop sign which says “stop spam”.
Google dislikes everything that spoils user experience.

5. Focus on deep-linking

Focusing on connecting your anchors on top-level pages is, usually, a beginner’s mistake. But, there are many exceptions as well. First, your homepage is a natural “first stop” for much traffic already. There is no point in pushing your strategy toward connecting everything to the homepage. Since it doesn’t look natural to search engines that everything leads to this “first layer”, it will give you no benefits. Instead, you should focus on developing your anchor strategies to focus on deep linking. Relevant pages buried deep within your website bring a lot more value.

6. Audit your anchors

The audit is a necessary part when you want to optimize your anchor text strategy for SEO. Besides, make sure that you are not over-using certain types, and reduce the number of potentially “toxic” anchor texts.

There are no shortcuts when you need to optimize your anchor text strategy for SEO. In general, follow the updates, and adjust your strategy, always having long-term benefits on your mind. No benefits will come overnight. But, if you focus on relevancy and overall usefulness, you will be ready for anything.

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