Link or super effective? Make anchor texts work for SEO

SEO is about being as clear as possible to visitors and search engines. Anchor texts help 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 creating content that your ideal visitors are passionate about. And to incorporate the words they use when they search for them, 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 many small and large things. The anchor text is one of them. But what exactly is it and how big is the influence on your rankings?

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, place a link under the words discover everything about SEO, then ‘discover all 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 provide for the image.

💡 Tip. In general, it is wise to always provide images with an ALT text. The description helps search engines understand images better. Visually impaired people also often use reading software, and these programs speak the ALT text for images. Describe briefly and succinctly what you see in the picture.

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

Anchor text gives search engines something to hold on to

An anchor text gives a search engine something to hold on to. At 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 for anchor texts on your own site and on other sites that point to you. This way they better understand how others see your site. And what the pages on your site are about.

💡 Tip. While you have little influence over how others link to you, you can do something. Become a specialist in your niche and share as much good information as possible. For example, do this in a blog. People like to share good information online. You share knowledge and insights on a blog. When 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. Does someone share a link to your site and are there search terms in the URL? Then you immediately have a clear anchor text.

💡 Remark. There are internal and external links. at a internal links a visitor lands on a page of the same site. With a click on a externe link the visitor ends up on a page outside the current site.

How does anchor text affect SEO?

Google has used 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 give to pages themselves.

Anchor texts from other sites to your site are completely important. Those count extra heavily, because you can’t influence them. However? Wrong!

Although you can’t, you can buy links on other sites. If you pay enough, you also have influence on the anchor text. For example, it happened that people bought thousands of links online using 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 ended it through several algorithm updates.

But however you get them, you still need relevant links to your site to beat the competition.

Types of anchor text and how to use them

Google nowadays looks closely at your link profile, the links to and from your site. If this is not sufficiently varied or even manipulated, 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 ankertekst: a link containing the name of your company or organization.
  • Branded + search term: for example Frankwatching – Online tips, trends & tricks.
  • Cold 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 anchors: links under synonyms and variants of the search term for which you want to be found.
  • Partial exact anchor text: bottom left a longer combination of the search term you want to rank for.
  • Exact anchor text: bottom left exactly the words you want to score on. Exact anchor texts are the clearest, but also the fastest to indicate manipulation. So use them in moderation.

In addition, do not be too frantic with placing links to other sites. If a link is valuable to a visitor, post it. This increases your reliability and indirect de ‘trust factor’.

Example anchor text website Omoda

A link with exact anchor text on Omoda.nl.

How much exact anchor text is too much?

There are plugins that allow you to automatically place links on your site. For example, do you have a holiday site and do you often write holiday in France, the plugin will immediately create a link from it. 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 the anchor texts valuable to the user experience first and foremost. A link under the words ‘Discover the most beautiful summer holidays in France‘ is that.

If other sites link to you, you have little influence over 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 definitely shouldn’t do is buy hundreds of automated links, with the same anchor text. It’s playing with fire.

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

  • Brand Anchor Text: 30% to 40%
  • Partial match anchor text: 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, among others SEMrush, Ahrefs in Moz.

Step-by-step plan: how to use anchor texts the right way

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. Only refer to trustworthy websites

Help visitors as best you can, and place a link where it is relevant. Only refer to sites that you trust.

Do you not completely 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 does not matter. But if you use this exact link hundreds of times on your site, it’s an indication of cheating. So vary your anchor text and keep it natural.

4. When in doubt, keep anchor text general

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

5. Check your link profile

A natural link profile contains all types of anchor text. Within your own site and from other sites. Check this, for example with Screaming Frog SEO Spider for internal links and Ahrefs, SEMrush of Link Explorer from Moz 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 don’t get involved in 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 said it eloquently on LinkedIn: “You can’t buy a link from a journalist. But you can provide him or her with valuable information, so that that link comes naturally.” If you do this right, it is also scalable.

💡 Remark. Did you previously place a paid link to an advertiser on your site? Then Google wanted you to make that link ‘nofollow’ so that it didn’t count for SEO. In 2019, Google changed 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 chatting, now write again soon

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 that, you’re right in 9 out of 10 cases.


Source: Frankwatching by www.frankwatching.com.

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