Anchor text, sometimes referred to as link text, is the clickable text in a hyperlink that is visible to the user. It is intended to represent the URL using a textual description that will inform the user, as well as search engines, about the content to be found at the link’s destination.
The anchor text should provide a clear and easy to understand description to all users, including those of assistive technologies such as screen readers. It is also relevant to internal links, which are those linking to pages or content items within the same website or blog, and to external links which lead to content elsewhere on the internet.
Why Anchor Text is Important for SEO
Anchor text is used by search engines to gain a comprehension of context regarding the web page or document that is being linked from and to. This is because, if the search engine understands what the page’s content is about, it can be placed into relevant search results to add valuable content for its users. In this way, anchor text can play a part in how highly a website ranks with a search engine.
Whilst the anchor text of external links is most valuable to SEO so too does internal link anchor text assist the SEO process, as meaningful anchor text can help search engines ascribe context to a website or blog and understand its structure. Internal links also direct ‘link equity’ from backlinks around the website, again helping create powerful onsite SEO signals.
Good anchor text should use the exact title, or an appropriately similar one, to the content that is being linked to. This can be incorporated into a sentence. The form, writing, punctuation, and styling of any anchor text should be given proper consideration if SEO benefits are to be gained.
It is usually the case that what adds true value and ease of use to a user is naturally helpful for SEO, as this is the type of content that search engines are generally aiming to promote.
Problems arise when individuals attempt to overly game the system. Thanks to the sophistication of Google’s algorithm, these tactics tend not to not pay off in the long term and run a very real risk of incurring penalties. With anchor text this is usually down to over optimisation, especially across a number of links. This is the practice of using the same exact match keywords across a number of anchor texts. It is seen as good practice to keep anchor text relevant but varied and natural looking across a backlink portfolio.