A Comprehensive Guide To Anchor Text

17 min read
10 May 2024
Picture of Mark Paul Bautista

Mark Paul Bautista

A Comprehensive Guide To Anchor Text


TL;DR: Anchor text is the clickable words in hyperlinks that help users and search engines understand what the linked page is about. It’s vital for SEO and should be carefully chosen to improve a website’s search rankings. Types of anchor text include exact match, partial match, branded, generic, and more. Overusing exact match can lead to penalties, so a diverse range of anchor texts is recommended for effective SEO.

Carefully selecting anchor text can enhance user experience and contribute significantly to your website’s visibility on search engine results pages (SERP).

Key Takeaways

  • Anchor text is the clickable text or words in a hyperlink that tell people and search engines what they’ll find on the linked page.
  • Using different types of anchor text like exact match, partial match, and brand can help improve your website’s SEO rankings.
  • Be careful not to put too many keywords in your anchor text; keep it clear and varied for better results.
  • By crafting effective and diverse anchor texts, you guide visitors through your content and help boost your website’s ranking on search engine results.

What is Anchor text?

Let’s summarise anchor text by looking at a simple example. If you see a blue, underlined bit of text on a webpage that says “link building services,” and you can click on it, it is the anchor text. In the code that makes up the webpage, it looks something like this: 

<a href="https://contactora.com/link-building/">link building services</a>

Why is Choosing The Right Anchor Text for Your Links Important?

Search engines, especially Google, use anchor text to comprehend the content linked to it. Web crawlers scan links on a webpage to determine relationships with other pages. Often, anchor text provides a better understanding of content than the linked text itself. This helps your website show up in searches better if you use clear, related words. That is why using phrases like “Click here” or “Read More” does not match the internal links you want to include. 

Before the Penguin update in 2012, Google utilized anchor tags to assess website relevance. Today, anchor texts are indicators for search engines to penalize spammy or overly optimized websites.

Therefore, having properly optimized anchor text in internal links can significantly enhance your SEO. This assists in defining site structure and hierarchy, guiding web crawlers to understand the importance of various pages. 

Now that we know why this tool is important, let’s look at the different anchor text types and how you can optimize them for safe SEO-savvy linking.

10 Types of Anchor Text: What You Need to Know

Anchor text diversity is important in enhancing your website’s credibility and traffic. Understanding anchor text types— from Exact Match to Branded and Generic—is crucial for curating an effective link strategy that aligns with search engine algorithms.

When building links to your website, the anchor text you choose can make a big difference. Here are 10 types of anchor text that you can use:

Determining the Right Anchor Text

It’s important to comprehend various types of anchor text to effectively utilise anchor text.

  • Exact Match: Anchor text that exactly matches the main keyword the linked-to page is targeting.
  • Partial Match: Anchor text that contains a variation or part of the keyword the linked-to page is targeting.
  • Branded: Anchor text incorporating the name of a brand or company.
  • Naked Link: Anchor text that is simply the URL of the linked-to page, like “https://lakewood.media/”. 
  • Generic: Anchor text that uses generic terms or phrases like “click here,” “this website,” or “learn more.”
  • Images: When an image is linked, the alt attribute of the image becomes the anchor text.
  • LSI Keywords: Keywords that have a semantic correlation with the main keyword for the linked-to page.
  • No Text: An anchor text where no specific words are highlighted, often due to a design element or an icon being used as the link.
  • Long-Tail Keywords: Anchor text that includes longer and more specific keyword phrases.

Differences and Examples of Each Type

Now, to understand these distinct anchor text types thoroughly, here are a few comparisons and examples:

  • Exact Match: “Link Building Services” linking to a page about such services. This tells search engines explicitly what the page is about but is used sparingly to avoid penalties.
  • Partial Match: “Top-notch services for building links” for the same services page. It’s less direct than an exact match but still clearly related.
  • Branded: “Contactora” linking to the homepage of Contactora.com. This builds brand recognition.
  • Naked Link: Using “https://moz.com/” as the anchor text. It’s straightforward and can’t be misunderstood.
  • Generic: “Click here” to indicate a link without specifying what it’s about. It’s user-friendly but provides little SEO value.
  • Images: If an image linking to your page has an alt text of “link building strategy chart,” the alt text serves as the anchor.
  • LSI Keywords: “SEO tactics” might be used for a link-building service page to introduce various topics related to the main topic.
  • No Text: A clickable logo that takes you to the homepage; the link might not contain text.
  • Long-Tail Keywords: “Affordable link building services for small businesses” is more specific and can attract more targeted traffic.

The Role of Anchor Text in SEO Rankings

Now that you know what anchor text is, its importance, and its different types, let’s dig into how it helps websites rank better in search results. 

Simply put, if a web page gets multiple links from different sources with anchor text that includes the phrase “link building services,” search engines might conclude that the page is an authority on that subject. This relevance can lead to a higher position in rankings when people look up services for building links.

But the relationship between anchor text and SEO isn’t just about using the right keywords. Web crawlers can recognize when anchor text is being manipulated. If every link pointing to a page uses the exact same anchor text, it looks suspicious—like someone is trying to game the system. This can actually hurt the site’s SEO performance because web browsers prefer natural link patterns that resemble genuine endorsements from a variety of sources.

But remember not to overdo it with too many keywords or use the same phrase all the time – keep things varied and natural! This approach will help ensure your website gets noticed by both people and web browsers.

Impact on User Experience

Google says that since the beginning, they’ve focused on providing the best user experience possible, and it has stated that providing a good user experience is an important factor in its search algorithm.

The correct anchor text serves a dual purpose: it boosts your site’s traffic and makes things more accessible for people. Good anchor texts tell someone where a link will take them before they click on it. This way, they feel more in control and can find what they want faster.

Imagine visiting a website with links saying “click here” or “this page.” It’s confusing. You might not know where those links go until you click them.

It’s, therefore, essential to choose relevant anchor texts that align with the content of the destination page. Can you imagine a scenario where a user clicked on “learn how to do SEO” or “tips for link building” and ended up on a page talking about a chicken recipe? That makes for a terrible user experience.

Best Practices for Optimizing Anchor Text

To use anchor text most effectively, focus on crafting relevant and descriptive phrases that naturally align with your content while sidestepping the pitfalls of over-optimization

Excessive use of exact-match keywords can lead to over-optimization, which search engines may penalize. Therefore, it’s important to adopt a varied anchor text strategy. Mix it up with partial matches, branded terms, and natural anchor text that would occur organically in writing. This diversity in anchor text types helps maintain a narrative flow, making your website’s structure more like a cohesive story and less like a collection of disjointed keywords.

To optimize anchor text for both users and search engines, consider the following best practices:

Relevant and Descriptive Anchor Text

Choose anchor text that accurately reflects the content of the linked page. It should provide clear context, indicating what to expect upon clicking.

When you construct a complete sentence that refers the reader to another topic, you can introduce the link with the phrase For more information, see or For more information about…, see.

Example: For more information, see SEO Content.

Example: For more information about SEO Content, see How to Attract the Right Audience with SEO Content.

Use precise, descriptive keywords that match the page you’re linking to.

Diversifying Anchor Text for a Natural Flow

Mix up your anchor text, too, so it looks natural and not forced. Avoid excessive repetition of exact match anchor text. Use different anchor text types so it looks natural. Your links should flow with the rest of the content, not stick out or seem forced. 

Search engines like Google take notice of this variety. They see it as a sign that you’re sharing links in a real, honest way.

Avoid using phrases like this document or article, or click here.

  • Correct: For more information, see <a href=”/why-e-e-a-t-is-critical-for-seo/”>Why E-E-A-T is Critical for SEO</a>.
  • Incorrect: Want more? <a href=”/why-e-e-a-t-is-critical-for-seo/”>Click here!</a>.
  • Incorrect: For more information, see <a href=”/why-e-e-a-t-is-critical-for-seo/”>this document</a>.

Stick with terms that are on-topic and easy to understand. This way, links fit smoothly into your content while helping boost your SEO game—ensuring readers find them useful is key!

Competitor Analysis

Conducting a competitor analysis for anchor text offers a profound understanding of how others in your industry structure their linking strategies. It reveals valuable insights into what works effectively in your niche and how your competitors optimize anchor text for users and web crawlers. 

Observing their approaches gives you a clearer perspective on the nuances of crafting anchor text that balances search engine optimization and user experience.

An example is using the target keyword “link-building strategies.”

This article on Neil Patel is ranked #1 for the search query.

Check out the anchor text distribution for this article:

SEMrush overview of anchor text within the article ‘Link Building Strategies and Resources for Busy Marketers’.

As you can see, a diverse range of anchor texts are present here. Still, many partial-match anchor texts give us a good idea of how we might vary anchor texts for a competing article.

Content Relevance Around the Anchor Text

Regarding linking, it’s not just the anchor text that Google and other search engines are peeking at. The content around the link is essential, too, in helping search bots grasp the context and relevance of the link. 

Google confirmed that the surrounding text around the link is important and helps Google understand the outbound link.

For example, using the keyword “Link Building Agency”

“If you lack the resources to hire internally, considering the option of engaging a link building agency could be beneficial. We would recommend Contactora as they are known for delivering high-quality backlink strategies and a proven track record of elevating website authority.”

So, it’s important to pay attention to the words surrounding your anchor text.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Dodge these common pitfalls to maintain the quality of user experience and favour the user’s eyes.

Keyword-Heavy Anchor Text and Keyword Stuffing

Mixing up the different anchor text types helps keep things flowing well on your site. You should vary your anchor texts and use different keywords, synonyms, or variations that mirror the destination page’s content. For example, suppose you are linking to a page about improving organic search rankings. In that case, you can use anchor texts like “organic search tips”, “how to rank higher organically”, or “organic search best practices”. 

Putting too many keywords in your anchor text can hurt your website. It makes things hard for people visiting your site and may drop your ranking on search engines. Use just the right words to tell what the link is about.

Keyword Stuffing occurs when one keyword or set of keywords is repeated excessively within content. This repetition renders the text unnatural and often unreadable, significantly impacting user experience and the credibility of the content. 

Using Only One Type of Anchor Text

Relying exclusively on a single anchor text type within your content poses several challenges in SEO. If you keep using the exact words in links, web crawlers might think you’re trying to trick them, which can hurt your website’s rank.

You don’t want to restrict yourself to only, for instance, the ‘Exact match’ anchor text and risk getting penalized. A naturally developed link profile is unlikely to consist solely of ‘exact match’ anchor text. 

So mix it up! Use a variety of anchor texts that include your brand name and others that match what people are searching for.

Showing varieties is the direction to follow if you want to stay on the good side of Google. 

Not Updating Anchor Text as Website Content Changes

Switching up your anchor text is key to a strong website link strategy. As your pages get new information, it’s smart to double-check that all your anchor texts still fit well. If they don’t, you should change them to match what’s now on those pages.

This keeps your site fresh and accurate for everyone who clicks the links.

Failing to do this can confuse visitors if they land on a page unrelated to the text they clicked on. Keep an eye out for any changes in content so you can update the anchor texts immediately.

Additional Common Mistakes

  • Using URLs as link text: URLs provide users little context or information about the linked content, resulting in a less intuitive browsing experience.
  • Keeping anchor text excessively long: Keep anchor text short whenever you can. Avoid writing lengthy anchor text such as a sentence or short paragraph.
  • Repeating the same anchor text within the same content for different target pages: It can confuse search algorithms, potentially impacting the accurate indexing and ranking of those pages for their respective content.
  • Missing full term and abbreviation in parentheses: Include both the full form and the abbreviation in the link text if the text contains an abbreviation within parentheses.
    Correct: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    Incorrect: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Improper punctuation placement in links: Whenever feasible, place punctuation that comes immediately before or after a link outside the link tags.
    Correct: For more information, see <a href=”/foundation-sprint”>Foundation Sprint</a>.
    Incorrect: For more information, see <a href=”/foundation-sprint”>Foundation Sprint.</a>

Incorporating Anchor Text in Your SEO Strategy

Anchoring your strategy with the correct anchor text is a game-changer. It’s not just about sprinkling links throughout your content; it’s about strategically placing them with intention and insight.

By understanding how web crawlers weigh these clickable snippets within both internal and external linking practices, you’re positioning your website to climb up those SERP rankings.

Utilizing Anchor Text in Internal and External linking

Anchor text is utilized in both internal and external linking strategies. 

Internal links refer to the hyperlinks that direct users to other pages within your website, whereas external links are the hyperlinks that lead to pages on other websites.

Linking inside your website is key. Use anchor text to help people find what they want. Pick words that show where the link goes. For example, if you have a page about “link building”, you could use “check out our link building services” as your anchor text for a link to that page.

For links going to other sites, pick clear and truthful anchor texts too. This tells search engines like Google what the linked page is about. So, if you’re linking to an outside article on the latest streetwear clothing trends, using something like “discover the latest in streetwear fashion” can be good for your site’s ranking.

Always keep it simple and direct so readers know what to expect when they click a link.

Link to High-quality and Authoritative Sources

The quality and authority of the pages or websites you link to can affect your rankings and reputation. You should link to high-quality and authoritative sources that provide useful and accurate information and have a good reputation and trustworthiness in your niche or industry.

Avoid linking to low-quality or untrustworthy sources, such as spammy, irrelevant, or outdated websites or websites that have a lot of ads, pop-ups, or malware. These pages can harm your rankings, increase your bounce rate, and lower your authority and credibility.

Good Anchor Text Examples

Example 1 – Keyword Research Page on Moz

Three links that appear natural & helpful, despite going to a commercial page:

  • From Backlinko.com – “If you’re new to SEO, you’ll want to check out Moz’s trusted keyword research guide to learn how to identify high-traffic, low-competition terms.”
  • From Ahrefs.com – “Moz created one of the original keyword research tools and still has some of the best educational content on keyword analysis.”
  • From SearchEngineJournal.com – “Many SEOs reference Moz’s keyword research guide as an essential part of developing an effective SEO keyword strategy.

Example 2 – Link Building Program for Beginners

Three links that appear natural & helpful despite going to an informational-commercial page:

  • From Backlinko – “Backlinko offers a great SEO audit checklist that will leave no stone unturned as you look for things that need improvement.”
  • From Search Solvers – “After the SEO process, measure the performance using SEO tools like Ahref, Moz, SemRush, and Google Analytics, which will analyze your website performance.”
  • From CXL – “After taking this course, you will receive the Link Building Certification from CXL, allowing you to showcase these credentials on your LinkedIn profile.”

Example 3 – Linking to Moz, a Leading SEO Platform

Examples of homepage links helping Moz to rank #1 for ‘Backlinks’:

  • From Social Media Today Blog post – “If, for example, a brand finds one of your helpful blog posts for their audience and decides to link to it.. That backlink, as Moz puts it, is “vote of confidence” in your content.”
  • From Vazoola – “A study by Moz supports this claim, indicating that if you build links from authoritative sites, you more substantially impact your website’s rankings than if you acquire more low-quality links.”

Example 4 – Affiliate Program Page on SEMrush

Examples of links helping SEMrush’s affiliate program page rank #8 for “join affiliate program”

  • From Idea Flavour – “SEMrush is an SEO tool for finding keywords and spotting and fixing SEO issues. It has an affiliate program where you get paid $0.01 per free sign ups through your unique links and $10 per free trial.”
  • From Cloudways – “The SEMrush Affiliate Program offers up to 40% recurring commission for SEMrush subscription sales.”
  • From MetriCool – “SemRush’s affiliate marketing program offers $200 for each sale an affiliate makes, so there is definitely a big opportunity to make some real cash.”


Anchor text is an important part of SEO. It is crucial for web navigation, user experience, and optimisation of search engines. By following the best practices above, you can use anchor text to improve your website’s ranking and drive more traffic.

Trust yourself, use your knowledge, and watch as your site climbs. Now, go ahead and craft those links like a pro!

Written By
Mark Paul Bautista
Mark brings over six years of digital marketing expertise and has focused intensively on SEO for the past two years. He is adept at driving impactful digital campaigns that engage audiences, increase brand visibility, and deliver tangible results.
You will also like these