SEO basics: What is anchor text?

Anchor text is the visible, clickable text of a link. It usually appears in a different color than the surrounding text and is often underlined. Good anchor text tells the reader what to expect if they click on the link. Getting your anchor text right increases the chance of someone clicking on your link, and helps search engines by giving them context.

Before we dive in, if you want to learn more about link building strategies and other essential SEO skills, you should check out our All-around SEO training! It doesn’t just tell you about SEO: it makes sure you know how to put these skills into actual practice!!

What does an anchor text look like?

Anchor text describes the article being linked to and entices visitors to click. Even search engines understand that the linked article is relevant because the URL and the anchor text correlate. So, for example, if you were to link to this article, you might use the link/anchor text like this: What is anchor text exactly? So you link to other articles in a way that looks natural to the reader.

What does anchor text look like in HTML? The first piece of code is the URL, while the second part describes the link – and this is the anchor text. Like this:

anchor text example

Different kinds

Anchor text is relevant for both your internal links and your incoming external links. External sites can link to your content 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 practice for anchor texts

It’s not exactly rocket science: writing relevant anchor text is pure 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 up crappy sentences to shoehorn 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 »

Anchor text: Things to avoid

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 click on your link. Don’t stuff your anchor text full of keywords. You should never use text that has no relation to the linked content. Whatever you do, don’t try to fool your users – nobody likes that. The same goes for trying to get your site design to ‘stand out from the crowd’ with links that don’t look like links. Keep the contrasting font color and underline it or people will easily miss your links.

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

Internal links and anchor texts

We all know that internal links are essential. Yoast SEO has a built-in internal link tool 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 these articles to improve your internal linking structure you can help both users and search engines navigate your site easier.

To make the most of internal links try to only add links that add real value to users. Write great anchor text for them, so readers know this link has been carefully selected to help them find out more. 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 users and search engines decide whether a link is worth visiting. Some people try to game this system, but don’t fall into this trap. These days, Google has is pretty good at spotting links that are unnatural and even harmful. So, keep it natural and relevant, and you’ll be good to go!

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

21 Responses to What is anchor text?

  1. Radek Skowron
    Radek Skowron  • 3 years ago

    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
    Hi Tehran Hostel  • 3 years ago

    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
    Haroun Kola  • 3 years ago

    I picked up a type in the sub headline:

    “Don’ts in anchor texts”

    Dont’s is correct

    • Sheriena McEvers
      Sheriena McEvers  • 3 years ago

      Just curious about your comment…more than one don’t vs. something belonging to don’t. Isn’t his more than one don’t?

  4. Arnold Wender
    Arnold Wender  • 3 years ago

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

  5. vickie
    vickie  • 3 years ago

    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

      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
    Adams  • 3 years ago

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

    • Edwin Toonen

      Thanks for your kind words, Adams!

  7. Freddy G. Cabrera
    Freddy G. Cabrera  • 3 years ago

    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

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

  8. Deb Scally
    Deb Scally  • 3 years ago

    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

      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
    Ronnie Andersen  • 3 years ago

    Thx Edwin for the insights.

    • Edwin Toonen

      You’re welcome, Ronnie!

  10. SeoHindi
    SeoHindi  • 3 years ago

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

  11. Nicecreame Laurra
    Nicecreame Laurra  • 3 years ago

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

  12. South Union Park
    South Union Park  • 3 years ago

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

  13. Consulente SEO
    Consulente SEO  • 3 years ago

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