Anchor Text SEO

Anchor Text SEO: Best Practices

If you want to optimize your website to perform well on search engines, you’ll need to be dedicated to identifying new ways to enhance your search engine optimization strategy. Anchor text SEO is one of the things you’ll need to grasp to get this working properly.

Anchor text plays a pivotal role in SEO, because it makes it easy for search engines to understand your content’s relevance for the users’ searches. Anchor text also makes it easy for users to navigate the website and collect information about services, products, and topics.

In this informative post, we will review anchor text SEO best practices to implement on your own domain.

Let’s get started!

What Does Anchor Text SEO Mean?

Anchor text is the part of a hyperlink that users can see and click. It appears between the “<a href>” and  “</a>” tags, which are wrapped around the beginning and ending of each link.

This hyperlink text, usually showing as blue and underlined, makes it easy for search engines and visitors to get pivotal information relating to link content and its destination.

What Does Anchor Text SEO Mean?

Search engines use anchor text from external sources to measure how the linking person views the page and its relevance.

As a website owner, you will find it challenging to control the sites that can link to your website. Regardless, it’s pivotal that you deploy useful, descriptive, and relevant anchor texts on your own website.

Anchor Text Formats

Anchor text comes in different formats that include:


Exact-match is the anchor text type to focus on for SEO ranking purposes. It is a format that stands in for the exact money keywords and core keywords that a page targets, and it is typically enhanced by including localization.

Anchor Text SEO: Exact Match

Exact-match is a powerful anchor text format, because it helps improve how a domain ranks, adding substantial SEO value.

Of course, you never want to overuse exact match with your external link building efforts.

Search engines penalize overoptimization of anchor texts in your link profile. As such, you shouldn’t expect that all links pointing at your content will align on an exact-match anchor.

If you want to make everything as natural looking as possible, mix and match types of anchors. If you can identify semantic variations on “money” keywords, start there.

However you go about it, be sure to use a range of keywords that are targeted and have medium-to-high volume search demand.


Partial-match serves as a close variant of an exact-match anchor text. It’s an anchor text format that features the primary keyword and more keywords before and after that.

Anchor Text SEO: Partial Match

If ”expensive keys” is your primary keyword, you can use an anchor like ”cool expensive keys,’, ”expensive keys for sale,’, or ”expensive keys that everybody loves.”

Therefore, the primary keyword appears in between the words (”expensive keys”), but with some variation, giving the anchor text a partial-match format.

Branded Anchor Text

The branded anchor text format applies a personal brand name or company brand name, which doesn’t relate in any way with the primary target keyword.

Anchor Text SEO: Branded Anchors

Businesses use branded anchor text as outbound marketing strategies to generate organic traffic on their site, allowing interested visitors to interact with their brand.

LSI Keywords

LSI keywords refer to target keyword variations. LSI anchors refer to anchor texts that are likely to resemble the primary keyword, but they’re primarily synonyms. [EDITOR’S NOTE: We often refer to this as semantic match keywords for modern SEO strategies.]

Anchor Text SEO: LSI and Semantic Keyword Anchors

To identify LSI keywords, type the search keyword into the Google search box. There, you will see LSI keywords ideas in the keywords suggestions that drop down beneath the box.

Naked Links

Here, the anchor text consists of the URL instead of any keywords. It’s a naked link because every user can literally see what the target URL is.

Some website owners avoid all optimized anchor text, because of the large and complicated Google Penguin algorithm rulebook. These individuals are nervous about anchor texts’ potential impacts on their search engine ranking.

Anchor Text SEO: Naked URLs

But don’t err on the other side. If you avoid anchors altogether, that can hurt your SEO performance as well.

However, you can prevent damaging mistakes and enhance your backlink profile by implementing the best practices we are outlining in this post.


Websites can wrap hypertext around images. This turns the image itself into a link. So for example, you may show a picture of a gym that links to a website for a local workout center

Does the image include an anchor text? Yes and no, but in either case, Google will still crawl the image for search-related purposes.

Anchor Text SEO: Images as Anchors

For properly optimized websites, every image will have an alt-text that can be used by search engines and text-to-voice browsers.

When search engine spiders crawl your image content, they will view both the image filename and alt-text and consider both as an anchor for the whole image.

Many content management systems such as WordPress automatically display the anchor text in the photo metadata window. Google uses this anchor text to get more information about the picture and check its relation with the target keyword.

General Anchors

This case requires using generic words like ‘visit this site,’ ‘read more,’ and learn more’ as anchor texts.

Anchor Text SEO: General or Generic Anchors

Yes, a generic anchor doesn’t offer any keyword ranking value. However, these generic anchors serve an important purpose in your link profile to help prevent any overoptimization penalties.

Benefits Of Anchor Texts For Your SEO Strategy

Anchor text makes it easy for search engines to index web pages. Search engines find it easy to understand page context and how users will find the page with well done anchors.

Of course, you don’t own and control the domains that are linking to your own website, especially the anchor texts. You only control that on-page within your own domain.

If you can build a campaign that helps improve how external domains link to your website to acquire optimized anchor texts, it will help you improve your search engine rankings for the relevant keywords.

This should be a top priority, especially for websites that have a large existing link profile and want to boost important keywords that are underperforming.

Anchor Text SEO: Best Practices

Ensure Anchors Appear In The Correct Proportions

What do we mean by the correct proportions? Don’t stuff your link profile with only exact-match and partial-match anchors.

To get this right, be sure to earn links showing your brand name / website name, naked URLs, and generic anchors.

This also means you should not have all of your links showing only the page title of the target page. Natural links will rarely link to you this way, unless they’re roundups of industry content showing another website.

Ensure Anchors Appear In The Correct Proportions

As you can see in this chart, a natural mix of anchors is heavy on brand, and a blending of all other types of anchor texts reviewed above.

Never Pursue Links From Spammy Sites

Backlink buying is a risky industry, but a big one at the same time. Prepare to have your website penalized by Google if you acquire backlinks form poor quality or questionable domains. Even worse, it could possibly have YOU labeled as spammy, so don’t take your chances on this one.

Anchor Text SEO: Never Build Links on Spammy Domains and Websites

Of course, you might be motivated to overlook this advice and do it anyway. It can provide some short-term advantages if done in volume and under Google’s radar.

But over time, they’ll figure it out. And your own website will suffer for it.

Be smart and focus on high quality, authoritative domains for all link building efforts. Over time, you’ll be happy you stayed within the lines.

Anchor Text SEO: Ensure The Anchor Text Matches The Linked Page

When placing links with money anchors, you’ll always want to point those links at content which is relevant to the keyword targets as well as the content on the linking page.

With this approach, you’ll enjoy faster and more sustained benefits from link building.

Related content is the most preferred in this case because it sends powerful relevancy signals as opposed to unrelated content.  Through a source page, search engines find it easy to understand the content on the page receiving the link.

Don’t Keep Linking With Only One Anchor Text

When placing content that links to your website, variety is your friend. Absolutely avoid using one or a handful of anchors on every single link you place externally.

Why? Google will see this as overoptimized and unnatural. This will in turn raise their suspicions that you are attempting to manipulate the SERPs in your own favor. Even if that’s your goal, you need to go about it wisely.

Final Thoughts on Anchor Text SEO

For many people, anchor text is a complicated topic. Some individuals in the SEO field prefer using exact-match excessively, whereas other people prefer staying safe.

Since the Penguin update rolled out almost a decade ago, Google has tightened its leash on backlinks and anchor texts to keep the SERPs relevant and clean.

Therefore, it’s pivotal that you implement the most reliable approaches and best practices for anchor texts as you build backlinks to improve your domain authority and keyword rankings.

All images provided by the author under his or her own license.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this post are that of the author, and Return On Now may or may not agree with any or all of the commentary.

This guest post brought to you courtesy of Return On NowProfessional Austin SEO and PPC Services Company.

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Rithesh Raghavan

Director at Acodez
Rithesh Raghavan is the Director at Acodez, a Digital Agency in India, and the co-founder of Acowebs, an online store for eCommerce plugins. Having a rich experience of 15+ years in Digital Marketing, Rithesh loves to write up his thoughts on the latest trends and developments in the world of IT and software development.

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