Anchor Text 101: Your Essential Guide to Optimising Link Text

Robert Hoang

In the realm of search engine optimisation, anchor text is a term you'll frequently encounter.

It's the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink that is often styled in blue and underlined by default, making it stand out from the rest of the text on a webpage.

When you're navigating the internet, anchor text guides you to related pages and gives you an idea of what to expect on the next page you're about to visit.

Understanding the nuances of anchor text can significantly impact your website's SEO performance.

It's not just about making a text link look attractive; it's a foundational aspect of effective link-building practices.

The words you choose as your anchor text can influence how search engines interpret the content of your website and can thereby affect your site's ranking in search results.

Crafting a safe and natural anchor text profile requires a balance between variety and relevance.

Search engines, using sophisticated algorithms, assess anchor text to help determine the subject matter of linked content. This means that the anchor texts leading to your site should be diverse yet closely related to the content and keywords within your web pages. Striking this balance can help in boosting the credibility and ranking of your site in the eyes of search engines.

Understanding Anchor Text

Anchor text plays a pivotal role in SEO and link building by influencing both user experience and search engine algorithms. Here's a detailed look into its significance, varieties, and application in the context of hyperlinks.

The Importance of Anchor Text in SEO

Anchor text is crucial for SEO because it offers search engines context about the content of the linked page, aiding in determining the page’s relevance to specific search queries. A well-chosen anchor text can boost the ranking of your website for particular keywords.


  • Branded: Includes your brand or company name.
  • Generic: Non-descriptive phrases such as "click here" or "learn more".
  • Exact Match: Contains a keyword that exactly matches the one you are trying to rank for.
  • Partial Match: Includes a variation of the keyword you target for ranking.

Distributions (Recommended):

  • Natural Anchor Text: Aim to keep your anchor text distribution appearing natural to avoid penalties from search engines.

Types of Anchor Text

Several types of anchor text can be utilised, each serving a different purpose in guiding users and informing search engine algorithms:

  • Branded: Links with your business name, e.g., "Velocity Shoes".
  • Generic: Non-specific calls to action, e.g., "click here".
  • Exact Match: Directly contains the keyword, e.g., "organic body soaps".
  • Partial Match: Your keyword alongside other words, e.g., "buy organic body soaps".
  • Natural Anchor Text: Appears smooth and contextual within the content, reflecting the topic naturally.

Leveraging a diverse mix of anchor types is advised to simulate an organic link profile.

The Role of Anchor Text in Link Building

In link building, anchor text enhances the credibility of hyperlinks and their relevance to the destination content. Choice of anchor text can directly impact the value that search engines attribute to the links:

  1. Matches Content: Aligns the link with the content for better relevance.
  2. Variety: A varied anchor profile is beneficial for SEO health.
  3. Naturalness: Over-optimising with exact match anchors may trigger search engine penalties.

Strategically crafted anchor text strengthens your link building efforts, enhancing your site's authority and relevance for targeted keywords.

Best Practices for Anchor Text Optimisation

When optimising anchor text, focus on constructing a versatile and natural anchor text profile while employing strategic variations to enhance your website's SEO performance.

Maintaining a Natural Anchor Text Profile

A natural anchor text profile includes a variety of anchor text types that mimic the way real people would link to your content. Your goal is not to manipulate search engine algorithms but to create a profile that appears organic. Here's how to maintain a natural profile:

  • Diversify your anchor texts: Use a mix of naked URLs (, branded anchor text (Your Brand Name), random words (e.g., "click here"), and natural language that fits within the context.
  • Avoid excessive use of exact match anchor text: Overuse of exact match anchor text (anchor text that exactly matches the keyword you're targeting) can trigger search engine penalties. As a rule of thumb, it should be used sparingly.
  • Incorporate partial match anchor text: These are variations that include the keyword alongside other words (e.g., "tips for starting a blog" when targeting "starting a blog").

Strategies for Variations in Anchor Text

Strategically varying your anchor text can potentially drive improvements in your search engine rankings by providing search engines with clear signals about the content of the linked pages. Here's how to approach this:

  • Create content worth linking to: Good anchor text begins with link-worthy content. Make sure your pages deliver value so that others will naturally want to refer to them in diverse ways.
  • Monitor your anchor text distribution: Regularly assess your anchor text profile and adjust it to avoid patterns that look artificial. Aim for a balance where no single type of anchor text dominates.
  • Use semantic variations: Similar to partial matches, these are synonymous or related terms that convey your target concepts without repeatedly using the same phrase.

By adhering to these optimisation strategies, you ensure that your website's anchor text profile remains robust and effective while minimising the risks of being penalised for over-optimisation.

Anchor Text and Search Engine Algorithms

When considering the role of anchor text within search engine algorithms, it's essential to understand how certain updates have specifically targeted the manipulation of anchor texts to influence rankings, as well as the ongoing importance of anchor text as a ranking factor.

Google's Penguin Update and Its Impact on Anchor Text

In 2012, Google launched the Penguin update, a significant algorithm change designed to target and reduce the rankings of websites that were considered to be spamming search results. Spam in this context often involved practices like stuffing webpages with excessive exact-match anchor texts—links containing the exact keyword or phrase a page aimed to rank for. The Penguin algorithm sought to penalise this over-optimisation, thereby promoting a more authentic and trustworthy search experience for users.

The update had a profound impact on how you should approach anchor text. It became clear that manipulation of anchor text to artificially inflate rankings could quickly backfire. Your use of anchor text now requires a strategic, varied approach to avoid penalties and ensure that your website remains in good standing with Google's trust metrics.

Understanding Anchor Text as a Ranking Factor

Anchor text is an indirect ranking factor within Google's complex search algorithms. By analysing your anchor text, search engines can infer the subject matter of the linked content and its relevance. A diverse anchor text profile, with a natural mix of branded, topical (using related keywords), and generic anchors (like "click here" or "read more"), is advisable. Overusing exact-match anchor text can appear unnatural and may signal an attempt at manipulation, leading to a loss of trust from search engines.

For your anchor text strategy, balance is key. Diversify and contextualise your anchor texts so that they contribute to a clear, relevant linking structure. It's important to understand that while anchor text contributes to how search engines assess your site, maintaining an organic profile is just as crucial.

Advanced Anchor Text Techniques

To harness the full potential of anchor text in your SEO efforts, it's imperative to grasp advanced techniques that can elevate your link profile. These methods lean into the nuanced understanding of semantics and strategic placement.

Using LSI Keywords and Synonyms in Anchor Text

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords are thematically related terms that search engines use to understand content deeper. Incorporating LSI keywords and synonyms in your anchor text strengthens topical relevance and avoids over-optimisation, which could lead to penalties. For example, if your primary keyword is "link building strategies," your anchor text might include synonyms like "backlink tactics" or LSI variations such as "inbound link methods."

Consider the following ratios to maintain a natural profile:

  • Branded: 70-80% (e.g., "Brand Name")
  • LSI Keywords/Synonyms: 10-20%
  • Exact-match: Up to 5%
  • Naked URL: Up to 10%

Anchor Text in Content Marketing and Guest Posting

Content marketing and guest posting are potent avenues for building a robust backlink profile. When creating content, use anchor text that provides value to the user's experience, feels organic within the content, and offers contextual relevance. A solid strategy would involve using your brand name and variations for a natural link profile while ensuring the anchor text aligns with the surrounding content.

Key points to remember for guest posting:

  • Aim for a mix of anchor text types: branded, LSI keywords, and naked URLs.
  • Embed the anchor text in high-quality, relevant content.
  • Seek to add value to the reader and avoid disruptive or manipulative linking.

Remember, while advancing your anchor text techniques, maintaining a balanced anchor text ratio and prioritising the user experience should always be at the heart of your link building strategies.

Measuring and Analysing Anchor Text

Analysing your anchor text is critical to understand how search engines perceive your website's relevance in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). The right balance in your link profile—which includes anchor text distribution—can hint at the naturalness and quality of your backlinks.

Tools for Analysing Anchor Text Distribution

To measure anchor text distribution effectively, you'll need tools that can parse the exact phrases from your backlinks and categorise them by type. Ahrefs is a popular tool used for this purpose. It allows you to:

  • Review phrase match and partial match anchor texts for determining how closely your anchor text matches target keywords.
  • Analyse external anchor text to observe how other websites link to you.

When using these analytics platforms, pay attention to the anchor text ratio. This measure reflects the diversity and distribution of your anchor text types across your link profile.

Anchor Text and the Overall Link Profile

Your overall link profile should appear natural and diverse to search engines. Here's what to focus on:

  • Check for an over-optimisation of exact-match anchor text, which may appear manipulative to search engines.
  • Ensure a healthy mix of generic, branded, and keyword-rich anchor texts, which contributes to the perceived relevancy of your pages.
  • Track how changes in anchor text affect your positions in the SERPs over time to inform your ongoing SEO efforts.

Keep in mind that both internal and external anchor texts are interpreted by search engines as indicators of your site's authority and relevance in specific subject areas.

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What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

Static and dynamic content editing

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Robert Hoang
Robert is a member of the SEO team at Local Digital. He spends his days implementing the SEO strategies we've put together for our clients, from ensuring onsite optimisation is on point to preparing technical audits to link building strategy... if it's an SEO must-have chances are Rob is on the case!

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