Types of anchor text

In the beginning, people start discovering that using rich keywords as the anchor texts in links was helping their websites rank higher in SERPs. All you had to do was build links with keyword-rich anchor text and it will quickly increase your ranking. Since Google was unable to manually check what was every page, it was relying on those signals. But, as it usually happens, this SEO technique became abused. Then, Google launches the first Penguin update in April 2012, to battle this. Today, Google is using both anchor text of the links and the text around them to establish relevance. Despite the constant changes, we can distinguish several types of anchor text which are very useful today.

Different types of anchor text

Many people discuss which type of anchor text they should use for their link building strategies. And if there is a specific type of anchor text that has priority over others. To be sure your links send strong signals to search engines, you need to use different anchor text variations. In combination with natural language, they will serve as a powerful indicator of relevancy to those engines. Before we proceed to the explanation of different types, let’s see first what the anchor text is.

Scrabble with “carpe diem” phrase completed.
Pick the right anchor text to “seize the day”.

What is anchor text?

Anchor text is the only visible part of a link. It’s a certain combination of words we use for linking. You can look at them as the title of hyperlinks. While the part of the code that links to another place on the web is not shown in the text, anchor text is. By default, it shows as blue underlined text, but you can change its appearance in the code. The biggest importance of anchor text is that it shows users and search engines relevant contextual information about the content of where it points to.

Here are a few observation steps of how it works and looks like:

  1. First, you have a sentence: “There are many useful link building tools every SEO should try.” No colors, no underlines, just pure text.
  2. Now you want to point out to another page that has a relevant topic. Let’s say that page is on the next address: “http://linkdepartment.com/link-building-tools-to-use/”.
  3. Then, you place that link in a part of the sentence (referred to as anchor) that reflects the topic. In this case: “link building tools”.
  4. In a paragraph, it will look like this: “These are some of the best link building tools every SEO should use.”
  5. However, in code it will look a bit different: “These are some of the best <a href="http://linkdepartment.com/link-building-tools-to-use/">link building tools</a> every SEO should use.

In essence, anchor text is a reflection of what the link destination’s subject might be about. Generally, they need to be useful, relevant, and descriptive.

There are several different types of anchor text you can use

Naked anchors

Naked anchors are those who have the site’s URL as text. For example, if you visit linkdepartment.com, you can find help for improving your online rankings. Generally, they are safe to use because most search engine algorithms are considering them as “natural”. Nonetheless, you should not overuse them. In fact, about 20% of naked links on your website is probably the best SEO practice.

A track filled with programming code.
Search engines recognize the valuable anchor text.

Generic anchors

You’ve probably seen “Click here”, “Learn more”, “Subscribe here” and similar links and buttons. All of these are using as little information as possible and are called generic anchors. Generally speaking, they don’t hold great value to search engines but they are a necessary part of every website or app. You can mostly see their usage as in Call To Action (CTA), or with button-alike links.

Branded anchors

Branded anchors are completely different from generic ones and they give more information. They are related to your brand and include your brand name. Pure brand name anchors contain only your brand name. But, branded anchors can appear as a combination of your brand name and a keyword. In fact, Google uses them to evaluate your website’s credibility and relevance in a particular niche. And, to distinguish a spam website from a real one. Their most obvious reason for usage is to diversify your anchor profile and helps you rank.

Exact match

These are the type of anchor text where you use the exact keyword as a hyperlink anchor title. If your keyword is “packing supplies” then the anchor text is the same. Overall, it is usually enriched by the localization factor and is one of the most important anchor types. To continue with the same example, it looks something like this: “packing supplies in Miami”. On the other side, you should be careful when using too many exact matches. Small businesses that use them too much will most likely be penalized by Google.

Image anchors

Simply put, this is the situation where you use an image as an anchor instead of text. Furthermore, if you want Google to analyze your linked images, you need to place an alt tag to each image. In the best case, you should pick an image that is relevant to the website and give it an appropriate alt tag. This is to avoid Google’s automatic “noText” classification of your anchor.

Illustration of a monitor showing visual elements of a web page.
Visual elements like images can be an attractive place for links.

LSI Anchors

LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) anchors use keywords related to your main keywords. For example, if you have “packing supplies” as the main one, LSI would be “affordable packing supplies”. In other words, they are commonly used as a descriptive expansion to cover more search terms.

Partial match anchors

Partial match anchor text consists of words where at least one is your main keyword. At first look, they are similar to LSI anchors. But, there is a big difference. In LSI, the entire keyword is contained in the anchor. In partial match anchor, only a part of the keyword is contained. For example, the keyword is “packing supplies”. And the partial match will look like “cheap moving supplies”. Or, “complete packing service”.

Long-tail anchors

Long-tail anchor text is the most descriptive among anchors. It usually consists of longer text with the implementation of less popular keywords. In essence, this type of anchors covers other keywords with less power than the main keyword, but are still in relation. For example, “how to find affordable moving boxes?”. The optimal amount to use is more than 2% of your website anchor texts.

Learning different types of anchor text is just a small part of the vast SEO universe. To master all aspects, and contribute to better results, always monitor your anchors and react appropriately. It will give you a much-needed advantage over your competitors.

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