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Anchor text

An anchor is a text you click to move from one internet destination to another; it literally anchors two different locations on the internet together.

While anchors typically link webpages, they can also initiate downloads and link to documents like PDFs or files in Google Drive. That is why you should only click anchors from sites you trust, and hover over the link with your mouse – but don’t click! – to make sure the URL looks legitimate.

Books4Languages home page

In that sentence, the word “Books4Languages” is the anchor text. By hovering our mouse over the anchor, we can rest assured knowing it links to the Books4Languages homepage and not a mysterious malicious file.

The text you choose for anchors is important for a few reasons:

  1. It tells your readers what to expect before they click the link. Anchor words are THE promise about what is on the other side of the link, so they must be highly relevant.
  2. It tells Google algorithms what your content is about. Google’s algorithms use your anchor choices to make sure you are not engaging in spammy practices AND to understand the topics you are linking to in your copy. Check Your Backlinks

What Is Anchor Text? Everything You Need To Know for SEO

  • Generic Anchor Words doesn’t include any text referencing a keyword. Instead, the reader must rely on the surrounding copy for context clues about what is on the other side of the link.
    • Generic Anchor Examples: Click here, Read more, Download this, Over here, More info, This page.
  • Exact match anchor text includes the precise keyword the page you are linking to is targeting. If someone decided to link to this very blog post and chose to hyperlink with the words “anchor text”, we would earn an exact match link text because that is the keyword we are targeting here.
    While it is important to earn some exact match anchors, Google also pays close attention to these links and could penalize you for spam if you have too many.
    • Exact Match Anchor Examples: Present Simple Interrogative, Past Simple of Irregular Verbs
  • Partial match anchors include your keyword phrase along with other generic, random, or stop words.
    • Partial-Match Anchor Examples: as the object (Gerunds as Object), plural of a noun, Comparative of equality (Comparative Clauses: As … as), to have (Have and Have got Affirmative).
  • Related anchor words link to a page using a variation of the target keyword. They are like partial match keywords, but related anchors don’t include the precise keyword phrase.
    You will want to build some related anchors to help Google’s crawlers better understand what your links are all about. Plus, they keep your link profile diverse so Google is less likely to hit you for spammy links.
    • Related Anchor Examples: number (Plural Noun formation)
  • Naked anchor text is just a URL pasted into the copy from the browser bar – but it is clickable! You might see links like this if someone adds references at the bottom of their article and includes your link as a source.
    They aren’t pretty, but Google likes naked anchors because they are far less likely to imply someone is trying to use spammy practices to rank for a keyword.
    • Naked Anchor Examples: https://books4languages.com/faq/
  • Long-tail anchors are similar to partial anchors, but they contain more words. These give you a chance to include your keyword along with some related, descriptive, generic, or branded keywords.
    Sometimes, long-tail anchors can include an entire subheading or headline for a link. Other times, writers will link to a whole sentence. While you don’t necessarily want to write long-tail anchors all the time, they can be useful for SEO. Plus, you can’t control what other sites do.

Remember, Google uses anchors as information to learn what webpages are all about and how important they are so it can rank them in keyword searches appropriately. You definitely want to pick anchors that make sense for the link, and that will help create a positive experience for your readers. Randomness is good when it comes to anchor text.

Google’s recent BERT update taught us that the search engine is tweaking its strategy in favor of natural human language and the surrounding context. When you read something online, you don’t ONLY look at the anchor text to decide whether you will click the link. You also read the surrounding sentences and paragraphs to understand what is on the other side of the hyperlink, right?

We should assume Google is doing that too. Most marketers don’t choose an entire sentence as their anchor. However, it might be worthwhile to consider that the Google bots will scan the words in the entire sentence as it scans our anchor text.

It also means Google prioritizes user experience and answering search queries more than anything else. So, that is what marketers should do.

And, that is why “optimizing” anchors involves creating a better experience for everyone.

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