Anchor text is important to get right. Done well, your anchor text will help put your site to the top of the search results. Done poorly, your organic search traffic will be practically non-existent.
My complete guide to anchor text is below. I’ll show you everything you need to know about anchor text. You can stop worrying about your traffic suddenly disappearing!
Here’s what you need to know:
Why Anchor Text is Important
Anchor text is any visible links in your content. It can be to content within your own site, such this link to my earlier blog post “10 Fast, Simple Tips for On-Page SEO Success.” Anchor text can also link to other sites, such as this link to Google Webmaster Tools.
The History of Anchor Text (and Why That’s Important)
Anchor text has an interesting history which can be divided into pre and post Penguin update.
Prior to 2012, you could include 100% exact matches for all your Backlinks. Basically, spamming links would help you rank. This led a wild west of black hat techniques.
In 2012, Google released Penguin 1.0. This update targeted spammy, fake and low-quality links. Shady sites, which stuffed their content with links, were penalized.
What Does Penguin Do?
Penguin is sophisticated but works in a relatively straight-forward way:
- A site builds a Backlink
- Google indexes the site
- Google indexes your Backlinks into a website-specific database. This is called your link profile.
This process in repeated many, many times. Your link profile grows and changes over time. The Penguin algorithm analyzes your link profile, rewarding you for high quality links and penalizing you for low quality links.
The Different Types of Anchor Text
These are anchors with a direct brand name. An example would be my site, Clayton Johnson. This is the safest type of anchor if you have an exact match.
These are links with more generic calls to action. Examples include phrases such as:
- “click here for more”
- “here’s an example”
- “check out a detailed description here”
Think of it this way: If you’re using a proper noun, you’re using a Branded Anchor. If you’re using more general language, you’re using Generic Anchors.
As you might expect, these anchors aren’t super common. They’re a bit awkward to read. You’ll find them mainly in how-to guides or discussions about Internet websites. They’re typically not found in sales copy or other types of advertising.
Latent Semantic Indexing Anchors
This is Google’s way of finding conversational language. As a content creator, these LSI anchors are simply variations of your main keyword. For instance, suppose your main keyword is “dog training.” LSI keywords related to “dog training” would be:
- “types of dog training”
- “puppy training”
- “dog training for senior dogs”
To find LSI keywords, I recommend Google’s Suggest Options in the search bar. This is the “Searched Related to” underneath the search results.
Images are an important part of your content. Insert a graphic, photo or other image every 500 words or so.
For each image, include text in the ALT tag. This text should be keyword based. Google will treat this ALT text an anchor text.
Is your site heavily image based? Check out my 7 Ways to Instagram Marketing Success.
Brand and Keyword Anchors
This is a safe, dependable way to build a high quality link profile. The idea is to combine your brand with your targeted keywords.
For instance, if I combine my brand with the keyword “On-Page SEO,” my anchor text would include phrases such as:
- Clayton Johnson’s 10 Tips for On-Page SEO success
- On-Page SEO Secrets from Clayton Johnson.
Brand and Keyword Anchors help establish authority in the eyes of the search engines.
The Power of Anchor Text
The Live Penguin update has been a great change for legitimate marketers. You won’t get anywhere by spamming your content with keywords. But if you develop the types of anchor text described above, you’ll see an increase in organic traffic and overall customer engagement.