Improve your link text by avoiding competing links

The Yoast SEO plugin provides you with a lot of feedback regarding SEO. One of the things the plugin checks is if the links in your text contain the focus keyphrase of the page, because they shouldn’t. In this article, we’ll explain more about this check, and we’ll give information on how to improve your link text.

What is a competing link?

The link focus keyphrase check assesses the links on a page and their link text, and it notifies you if you have any competing links. But what is a competing link? A link is considered a competing link when its link text, also called anchor text, contains the focus keyphrase of the page within the link.

Let’s consider an example. Say you have written an article about potato chips, so your focus keyphrase is ‘potato chips’. If you then use a link with the anchor text ‘potato chips’ in that same post, that link is considered a competing link.

The focus keyphrase doesn’t have to match exactly. If you’re using synonyms of the focus keyphrase in your link text, this is also considered a competing link. In the example above, a link with the anchor text ‘crisps’ is a competing link as well. If you have Yoast SEO Premium, the check will also look for the synonyms of your keyphrase.

Why you should avoid competing links

Links are important for SEO: search engines follow links to find your content and index it, and they use links to understand your site structure. Link text, or anchor text, gives the search engines more context. It helps them make sense of your (internal) links. So, if you use the focus keyphrase of a page to link to another page, search engines might get confused: which of these articles is most relevant for that topic and should rank for that keyphrase?

Besides adding context to links for search engines, link text is also important to your users. The anchor text clarifies the value of a link and tells them where it leads them. So, using the focus keyphrase in the link text can be confusing for both search engines and your users. That’s why you should actively avoid competing links.

Learn more about this check in Yoast SEO in our explanation of the link focus keyphrase assessment.

How to improve your link text

The link focus keyphrase check tells you if there are any competing links in your text. If this check gives you a red bullet: check your text and make sure you’re not linking to another page with the focus keyword (or one of its synonyms) you want this page to rank for. If you are, make sure to change the link text.

Another way to improve your link text is by keeping it natural. Don’t write unnatural sentences to include a keyphrase, and make sure you don’t use misleading link text to get users to a page. Write natural, relevant anchor texts that convey the value of a link to both your user and the search engine, and you’ll be good to go!