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Mar 29, 2022

Anchor Texts - All You Need to Know

When building links, the topic of anchor text will always come up, but not all digital marketers will give this aspect of SEO the same attention they might give other things, such as the quality of the link itself. 

This is a mistake as anchor text, like most of the core components of SEO, needs to be carefully monitored to ensure the greatest SEO impact possible. As most will know though, Google’s algorithm changes constantly, and there will be many industry professionals who will have differing views on how anchor texts work exactly, and how much impact they have on digital marketing strategies.

Anchor text fundamentals

SEO managers have always had contrasting opinions on anchor texts, and there is no doubt that not everyone agrees on the same things. For example, there will be some marketers who believe that exact match anchor texts are a bad thing, compared to those who believe that they are a good implementation. However, looking at what Google has said about anchor text in the past, it is hard not to agree that exact match anchor texts are the way to go. This is because one fundamental of anchor texts is that they should describe what the user will see after clicking on the link and being redirected to another page or website.

This notion may surprise some who have been part of the ‘exact matches are bad’ camp for a while. Those who follow this line of thinking will usually rely on anchor texts such as ‘click here’ or ‘visit this site’ when devising link building strategies. Looking at the information from Google though, it is clear that search engines prefer either exact matches or anchor text that is closely related to the page being linked to. The reasoning for this should be clear – this practice is more useful for readers who are looking for more information and it makes the search engine crawling process much easier.

It is important to know these fundamentals behind anchor text of course, but it can also be easy to get carried away when using exact match anchor text. While these are effective when used sporadically, SEO professionals should not now go crazy with using the same anchor text on a range of different sites. Google’s algorithm is smarter than that and will recognise this exploit as a direct link scheme, and webmasters will be penalised accordingly.

Anchor text as a ranking factor

It should now be clear that it is important to carefully consider anchor text when building marketing campaigns as it is one of many factors that Google takes into consideration when ranking websites for SERPs. As has already been aforementioned, Google’s advice on this is clear: if websites want to rank higher, anchor text should be descriptive, and exact matches, if done in moderation, aren’t a bad way to go about achieving this end.

Of course, while anchor text still plays an important role within the SEO world, there is no doubt that its effectiveness has been reduced when compared to the early days of the industry. Many digital marketing veterans will remember how powerful anchor text used to be and the Adobe ‘click here’ case is one good instance that shows how strong anchor text could be for rankings, and why this needed to change.

Indeed, the strength of anchor texts was eventually addressed by Google during the 2012 Penguin update which targeted manipulative link building tactics such as exact match anchor text abuse, keyword stuffing and more. As most will know today, those who attempt to replicate these tactics will simply be ignored by the algorithm, and instead of being rewarded with higher rankings, people who do practice these methods will be rewarded with wasted time.

So what anchor text works?

Many SEO managers will still be wary of using exact match anchor text even though there is no doubt that Google prefers examples of this nature. Of course, portfolios shouldn’t just include this type of anchor text – they should be diverse following data that shows sites that have a neutral anchor text profile usually rank high. These are some of the best ideas to consider when reviewing anchor text:

-      Branded anchors

-      Exact match anchors

-      Generic anchors

-      Image anchors

Without a doubt, anchor texts are one of the most debated topics within the marketing world. While each professional will have their own views surrounding them, SEO managers will benefit more when using exact matches in an already well-rounded anchor text portfolio.

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