We have earlier discussed how to create SEO friendly URL structure and SEO friendly title tags for your website. In this article, we will discuss how to create SEO friendly Anchor texts for internal and external links on your website.
If you are not aware of what Anchor texts are, I highly recommend you go through the SEO glossary where we have explained each SEO concept in detail. The SEO glossary is also a nice reference document to refer to key SEO terms, learn their meanings and then absorb the articles and tutorials described on the website.
In brief, Anchor text is the word which is used to hyperlink an internal or external page on a webpage. So for example, the first link on this webpage has the Anchor text – “SEO friendly URL Structure”. The second Anchor text in this webpage has the anchor text – “SEO friendly title tags”.
I hope you are clear on the idea of Anchor texts.
Now how do you create SEO friendly Anchor texts which search engines love? How do you ensure your anchor texts are optimised for search engines and they pass enough value to the internal or external links where you are creating the link to? How do you ensure that the incoming anchor texts to your pages are optimised as well? We will see some of the best practices with anchor texts in this article.
Different Types of Anchor Texts
Let’s first learn different types of Anchor texts. Different types of Anchor texts can be used in different situations with different objectives and goals. However, overusing the same type and pattern to achieve results is certainly not recommended. Anchor texts should be used as naturally as possible so that it creates a good user experience, and not with the sole intention of optimising a page for higher search rankings.
Exact Match Anchor Text
An Exact match anchor text is an anchor text which contains a keyword which reflects the central theme of the page. Sometimes, people also define an exact match Anchor text as an anchor text which contains a keyword for which the website owner wants to rank that page for.
So let’s say you have a page on your website – www.example.com/men-wallets.html. This page is all about Men’s Wallets and you have some nice wallets and accessories for sale.
If you link to this page from another page on your website with the Anchor text – “Men’s Wallet”, or “Buy Men’s Wallet”, then this Anchor text is called an “Exact match” Anchor text.
You are explicitly defining the central theme or idea or content of the page through the Anchor text. Hence this type of Anchor text will be defined as an “Exact Match” Anchor text.
In another example, let’s say you have another page on the website – www.example.com/women-bags.html. You want this page to rank for ” Stylish Women’s Bags” on the first page of Google. To achieve that objective, you create internal links within your website which use the anchor text – “Stylish Women’s Bags”, “Stylish Women accessories and Handbags” and other variants.
In that case, this is also a good example of using “Exact Match Anchor text” to optimize your site’s landing pages for higher rankings on Google search results.
Exact match Anchor texts can be internal as well as external in nature. You can request the owner of another website or a blogger to place an “Exact match” anchor text on his website with the words – “Buy shoes online”. In that case, you are requesting another website owner to link to your website with an Exact match anchor text, to ensure your website has higher chances of ranking on the first page of Google for that particular keyword.
Such kind of optimization is also known as “off page anchor text optimization” and should be practiced very diligently and carefully. Gaining too many links with the same “Exact match” anchor texts can get your site flagged and penalized in Search engines. Spam sites, low-quality content sites try to game the system with Keyword domains and exact match anchor texts, so you need to be very careful before you put an “Anchor text optimization” strategy in action.
Partial Match Anchor text
The next type of Anchor text is called “Partial match” which contains a phrase or partial words in the hyperlink content.
So let’s say you have a page on your website – www.example.com/products/kids-shoes.html.
You built two internal links on your website to this page with the following anchor texts
- “Kid’s Shoes”
- “Check out the best collection of Kids shoes for children below 7 years age”
The former is an exact match Anchor text while the latter is a “Partial match” or “Phrase match” Anchor text.
Now you may wonder, which one carries more weight – “Exact match or Phrase match?”. The simple answer is – None and Both.
Search engines would love to see a mix of words when looking at your Anchor texts and they would like to see a natural pattern in the anchor texts which link to your website. So if there are 100 websites linking to you, all 100 cannot link back to you with the “Exact match” anchor text. That is not natural.
There has to be a mix of phrase match and a mix of exact match anchor texts which proves that those links are natural in nature and not manually created to game the system writer can create the anchor text , will you be able to create it.
Partial match anchor texts carry good value and it is recommended to build partial match anchor texts in the internal links of your website to tell search engines what a target page’s content is all about. It also creates a good user experience and we all know that what is good for the user is also good for the search engines.
Branded Anchor texts
Branded anchor texts contain the name of the brand (name of the website) as the content of the Hyperlink.
When a website get’s really popular and famous, most of its audience remember the name of the website or blog and when they want to cite the content of this website, they will often end up linking to the website using the name because they remember that name and it comes out naturally.
So for example, if I have to link to a New York Times article, I might end up linking to the following
— “Check out this article on New York Times which explains the dirty secrets of Search engine optimisation”
In this example, I did not use the exact match anchor text of “Search engine optimization secrets” or a phrase match anchor text like – “Secrets of search engine optimization”. I used the brand name – “New York Times” as the Anchor text and hence, this anchor text is called a “Branded Anchor text”.
Sometimes, it has been observed that Google gives preference to Branded Anchor texts over phrase match or exact anchor texts. This depends on the search history of the user, whether he likes content from a specific brand, visits it often and prefers it over other “generic” search results. That said, using Branded “Anchor texts” is not a bad or Good practice, it is however considered okay to use branded anchor texts to emphasize the brand you are linking to. This is applicable for both internal and external links.