SEO basics: Anchor text

SEO basics
What is anchor text?

What is anchor text?

Anchor text is the visible and clickable piece of text in a link. The text appears in a different color and is often underlined. If done right, this indicates what’s behind that link. Getting your anchor texts right increases the chance of someone clicking on your link. It also provides context for search engines.

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What does an anchor text look like?

The anchor text describes the article and entices you to click. Even search engines get that the linked article is relevant because both the URL as well as the anchor text appears to be in order. Let’s say you want to learn something about anchor text. What is anchor text exactly? You see that I naturally linked to the article you are reading now.

What does an anchor text look like in HTML? The first piece of code is the URL, while the second part describes the link. This is the anchor text. See below:
anchor text example

Different kinds

Anchor text is relevant for both your internal links and your incoming external links. External sites that want to link to your content can do so in various ways.

  • Branded links: A link with your brand name as an anchor, like Yoast.
  • The URL itself: Just your site’s URL without a text, like Not that helpful in most instances.
  • Site name: written as
  • Article title: Exact matching the article, like What is anchor text?.
  • Exact keywords: Your focus keyword/keyphrase as anchor text
  • Partially matching keywords: Using variants of your focus keyword to make a readable link.
  • Related keywords: Not a direct match, but a keyword or keyphrase that is closely related to the main one.
  • Generic links: Try to avoid these ‘Click here’ and ‘Read more’ links. Tell people what a link is about. Otherwise, they’re guessing.

Best practices for anchor texts

It’s not exactly rocket science because writing a relevant anchor text is common sense. A link must provide value for a user, and the anchor text is the most important way of conveying the value of that link. Keep it natural. Don’t make crappy sentences to put in your exact match keywords or keyphrases. If it doesn’t sound natural when you say it aloud, don’t write it. Also, don’t turn a complete sentence into the anchor text. Keep it condensed and easy to understand.

Read more: ‘The context of internal links’ »

Don’ts in anchor texts

First of all, keep your links relevant. Don’t spam your anchor text and don’t use generic anchor text to try to get people to visit your link. Don’t stuff your anchor text full of keywords. You shouldn’t use a text that has no relation to the linked content. Whatever you do, don’t fool your users. Nobody likes this. This also goes for trying to get your site design to stand out from the crowd with a link that doesn’t look like a link. Keep the different font color and underline it. Otherwise, people will easily miss your link.

Of course, you don’t have much control over how other sites link to your site. You can, however, set up a link building strategy that has a bigger chance of getting those coveted relevant links with great anchor texts.

Internal linking and anchor texts

We all know internal linking is essential. Yoast SEO has an internal linking tool built in that makes it a lot easier to find related content to link to on your site. Whenever you add a relevant link to your article, you also need to think about the anchor text. By thinking carefully about how and why you link to these articles to improve your internal linking structure you can help both users and search engines to navigate your site better.

To make the most of internal linking try only to add links that add real value to users. Write great anchor texts for them, so readers know this link has been carefully selected to let you read on. Don’t link for the sake of it. Make it relevant and useful. And of course; don’t spam!

seo basics anchor text exact match example

An example of an exact match

seo basics anchor text freeflowing text

An example of a more free-flowing form of linking

This is anchor text

Anchor text helps both searchers and search engines determine if a link is worth visiting. Some people try to game this system, but you sure shouldn’t do this. Google has become pretty adequate at determining which links are unnatural and even harmful. So, keep it natural and relevant, and you should be good to go!

Keep reading: ‘SEO basics: What is a permalink?’ »

21 Responses to What is anchor text?

  1. Radek Skowron
    By Radek Skowron on 22 March, 2018

    I almost done my project where I’m studying (among others) anchor texts – currently 850/1000 articles. What is interesting is the most blogs use optimized anchor text, only few percent of them use URL. I didn’t finish my calucations but so far most articles use strategy build with 3 types of anchors: brands’ names + descriptions (anchor tied with few words or even a whole sentence) + “see more” links. If some of you are interested the final results, let me know in comments.

  2. Hi Tehran Hostel
    By Hi Tehran Hostel on 22 March, 2018

    We always try to keep links relevant and avoid using Spam links, we could promote contents on our blog and show about 50% of our blog posts on the first page of SERP, however I personally believe using keywords in a smart way is not only harmful but also useful.

  3. Haroun Kola
    By Haroun Kola on 21 March, 2018

    I picked up a type in the sub headline:

    “Don’ts in anchor texts”

    Dont’s is correct

  4. Arnold Wender
    By Arnold Wender on 21 March, 2018

    Good read, I have a question, what is your opinion on using the title=”” element in the link?

  5. vickie
    By vickie on 21 March, 2018

    7 months ago i got hold of a word press blank template.I knew nothing of SEO,Anchor Text,NOTHING! So then i read every article I could find,and all the ones yoast sent to me and for a while I was learning and was so full of information I was about to OD on it. I know now, thanks to you all,what it is and how it is to be implemented in my pages but you know after all these months and all the reading I did , and everythog I learned… it was all for nothing. Why? Because I have no talent when it comes to writing. I have spent 7 months and did get 2 keywords ranking #1 and # 3 on google page 1 . But still not many sales because I have no writing skills . I have read the articles and have read til my eyes are going bad and just do not want to read any more. So with all my learning this past year I still cant get my pages well written. And unless i go to fiverr i will have to pay 500.00 + to get them written for me. so maybe if there is a tool that writes the articles I will get that. But until then , it does not matter how much seo you learn, if you cant write good interesting content, it don’t matter what you know,although i think this was starting out good.

    • Edwin Toonen
      By Edwin Toonen on 22 March, 2018

      Hi Vickie. If I understand you correctly, you are already ranking for two keywords? That’s awesome! You must be doing something right because rankings don’t just fall out of the sky. If this doesn’t lead to new customers there might something else going on. It could be that your site design is not good enough or that people don’t ‘trust’ your offering. Maybe it’s the price of your product. It could be a lot of things and you need to find out what it is. Maybe run a survey? Ask people why they won’t hire you?

      I do get your frustration with writing. Not everyone is a born writer and for some, it’s a real struggle. However, everyone can learn to get a decent article on paper. Yes, it might take some practice but there is lots of help out there. If you have installed Yoast SEO, you’ll see that it has a great content analysis built in that will guide you.

      Why not try to write about things you enjoy, just for the fun of it? Don’t see writing as a necessary evil. Try to get some experience to find out how you write, what writing style you enjoy and work from there?

  6. Adams
    By Adams on 21 March, 2018

    Quite simple but very important for anyone who really cares about SEO. Thanks YOAST and keep being awesome!

    • Edwin Toonen
      By Edwin Toonen on 22 March, 2018

      Thanks for your kind words, Adams!

  7. Freddy G. Cabrera
    By Freddy G. Cabrera on 21 March, 2018

    Hey Edwin!

    This is an important part of SEO. You need to take good care of your anchor text. It is the gateway to your content and more content.

    The anchor text is like the door that someone wants to open according to what it says. Right!

    Thank you for sharing your tips on this topic!

    Have a nice week! :D

    • Edwin Toonen
      By Edwin Toonen on 22 March, 2018

      Yep, see it as the gateway. Try to roll out the red carpet whenever you can :)

  8. Deb Scally
    By Deb Scally on 20 March, 2018

    Conceptually I understand what it is by your discussion above, but I am not sure where I am supposed to write or insert the anchor text? Is it just something I manually add on to a hyperlink?

    • Edwin Toonen
      By Edwin Toonen on 22 March, 2018

      Hi Deb. Yes, anchor text is the text you place your link on. So if you are using WordPress you can select the word or phrase you want to link and paste the link onto it. Or you can use the link button the editor to do it manually.

  9. Ronnie Andersen
    By Ronnie Andersen on 20 March, 2018

    Thx Edwin for the insights.

    • Edwin Toonen
      By Edwin Toonen on 22 March, 2018

      You’re welcome, Ronnie!

  10. SeoHindi
    By SeoHindi on 20 March, 2018

    Nice article. Anchor text is important to improve keyword ranking.

  11. Nicecreame Laurra
    By Nicecreame Laurra on 20 March, 2018

    Nice article. Important information for anyone new to SEO, and you make it very simple and easy to understand :)

  12. South Union Park
    By South Union Park on 20 March, 2018

    Thanks for sharing this article. it helped me to learn some cool stuff.

  13. Consulente SEO
    By Consulente SEO on 19 March, 2018

    Nice article Edwin. Anchor text is still working in SEO. A very important ranking factor…

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