Link building is one of the most important pillars of search engine optimization (SEO). Not only does the quality of links determine a site’s search engine ranking but links are also a direct source of visitor traffic. While the importance of link building is well understood by anyone with some foundational understanding of SEO, far less attention is given to a key component of link building—anchor text.
Yet without a good understanding of anchor text, it’s not possible to run an effective link building and SEO campaign. Choosing the most appropriate anchor text is a science and there are automated tools that can help you do that.Read more about it here. You have to keep an eye on over-optimization, which is the unnatural use of anchor text across your backlinks (for instance, using the same keyword phrase for all external links).
Here’s a look at the main types of anchor text.
1. Exact Match Anchor
An exact match anchor uses the keyword phrase you intend to rank for. For example, a soft drink company could use “soft drink” as their exact match anchor. Once by far the most preferred type of anchor text among SEO experts everywhere, Google has come down especially hard on the over-optimization of exact match anchors to stem abuse.
And it makes sense. Imagine if someone set up a random website with no actual product to offer but spams the web with thousands of links using “soft drink” as anchor text. When users search for this keyword, the ranking of query results might not provide a true picture of relevance and authority.
2. Brand Anchor
A brand anchor is simply your brand name as the anchor text for a link. For instance, for The Coca-Cola Company, the brand anchor would have Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Company, The Coca-Cola Company or other variation of the name as the text.
The good thing about brand anchors is that you can use them on as many links as you want without worrying about Google’s over-optimization penalty. The key drawback is that except forwidely recognized entities like Coca-Cola, brand anchors require some explanation right before or after the link to introduce the organization or product.
3. Domain and Naked URL Anchor
This anchor text contains your website’s domain or a page URL. Examples of domain anchors include coca-colacompany.com, www.coca-colacompany.com, https://coca-colacompany.com and https://www.coca-colacompany.com.
Most domain anchors are a form of a naked URL. Naked URL refers to an anchor text string that is synonymous with the URL of the page it links to. For example, https://www.coca-colacompany.com/careers as anchor text that links to https://www.coca-colacompany.com/careers.
4. Call-to-Action Anchor
This is the anchor text that prompts the user to take action by clicking the link. It’s the oldest form of anchor text and has its roots in the early days of the Internet when the average user was still unfamiliar with what they were to do when presented with a hyperlink. Websites, therefore, had to explicitly egg them onto the desired action.
There are numerous phrases you could use for a call-to-action anchor. These include click here, learn more, check it out, click to visit, visit the website and click here for more. Whereas some consider this type of anchor text to be outdated, there’s still a large number of Internet users who’ll not follow through on a link until they are explicitly encouraged to click on it.
5. Long-Tail Anchor
This is anchor text that is typically at least 5 words long. They are low-frequency search queries. Collectively, the wide range of long-tail combinations of your primary keyword phrase generates a huge volume of queries but that are individually diverse.
Examples of long-tail queries include what is the best soft drink company, best soft drink company in 2020 and comparing the best soft drink companies. Each long-tail queries may have a low volume but they often have a higher click-through rate and conversion. The queries are by users who have zeroed in on the specific type of information they want.
6. Image Anchor
You can use images as an anchor if only to add a little more diversity to your backlinks and reduce the chances of facing an over-optimization penalty. If you are in a competitive industry where the contest for the main keyword phrases is intense, image anchors give your site a slight advantage over your rivals.
Irrespective of the type of anchor text you use, always remember the basic rules of a good anchor text. It should be descriptive, concise, visible and provide information about the target URL even when read out of context. Ultimately anchor text comes down toenhancing the user experience and not just pandering to search engine rules. Good anchor text should make your content more readable and navigable.