Small Business Brief


Choosing the Right Anchor Text for Your Links

Choosing the right anchor text for your links has a lot of impact on your internal and external links.

It used to be that you could go crazy with anchor text, constantly stuffing with keywords.

It worked for a while. Then came Google’s Penguin update in 2012.

Google used anchor text to determine if links were spam or of value. For example, every single one of your links shouldn’t read “mortgage brokers.” This was a sure indicator of using spammy methods to build backlinks.

How can you be sure you’re choosing the right anchor text for all of your links?

Read this guide to find out.

What is Anchor Text?

Let’s keep it simple and start from the beginning. What exactly is anchor text?

Anchor text is the highlighted and clickable text you see in a link.

The words that appear in the anchor text can determine how the page is indexed in Google.

What Choosing the Wrong Anchor Text Does for Your Website

We know that Google changed the linking game in 2012. How does it all work?

First, you create a backlink. Google will index it, and make it part of your link profile, which is stored in a database. Rinse and repeat this process many times over.

The process is repeated until it has a profile that’s large enough to work with. At that point, your link profile is compared with your website’s keyword optimization.

If your webpage is optimized for “mortgage brokers” and all of your anchors are “mortgage brokers,” you will be penalized.

That doesn’t mean you can never use your keyword as an anchor. You just have to know when it’s best to do so.

One other point to mention is that you have to make sure that when you’re choosing your anchor links, the places they appear are relevant.

Think of it this way, a backlink equals a vote for your website. The anchor text tells Google what the vote is for. The more relevant your site it.

What’s the lesson here? You have to treat your home page differently from other pages on your website. That’s the key to choosing the right anchor text.

Anchor Text Types

When it comes to choosing the right anchor text, you need to understand the different types of anchor text.

Exact Match: This is an exact match of the anchor and keyword.

Branded: These anchors use the brand name or company name as the anchor. For example, a branded anchor can be The Web Ally.

Partial Match: These anchors have a partial keyword or phrase you’re trying to rank for. Going back to the mortgage brokers example, you might use “brokers for mortgages” in an article related to mortgages.

Phrase Match: This is similar to a partial match, and many people confuse the two. The difference is that with a phrase match, it’s a long-tail version of the exact match.

In this case, instead of using a partial phrase of mortgage brokers, we can match a phrase like “mortgage brokers for VA loans.”

Generic: You’ve seen them plenty of times. The “click here” or “Read this” and “Check this out” are great examples of generic anchors.

If you use this strategy, you have to be sure that the content on the page and the words around the anchor are relevant to your keyword or brand.

Google can figure out what the topic is and how your site relates without having to use an exact match anchor.

Naked: This is just using the URL for a link. For example, would be a naked anchor.

Natural: A natural link doesn’t refer to the keyword of the brand. Like a generic anchor, you have to be sure the content is relevant to your keyword or brand.

Author: That’s using your own name as anchor text.

Anchor Link Ratios

Once you know the different anchor link types, you can determine how often they should be used. Your backlink profile should look something like this:

Home Page

  • Between 80-95% of your links should be Brand, Natural, and URL
  • No more than 10% should be Key Phrases
  • No more than 5% should be Exact Match links

On Other Pages of Your Website

  • Between 35-45% of your links should be Brand, Natural, and URL
  • No more than 40-50% should be Key Phrases
  • No more than 20% should be Exact Match links

As you can tell, it’s much easier to create a complete link profile for other pages of your website than it is on your homepage. That’s why it makes more sense to focus on individual pages, rather than just the homepage.

Start Choosing the Right Anchor Text

How do you go about choosing the right anchor text?

Start with Google, of course. Look at it this way, Google’s already done the work for you, so you might as well look to see the link profiles of your competitors who are number one in search results.

All you have to do is search for the keyword you want to rank for. Take the top search result and enter the URL in tools such as SEMRush or Moz Open Site Explorer.

Then you can start building your own link profile. Which types of anchors should you start with?

If you’re just starting out, avoid exact match and partial matches at first. You want to build relevancy and trust. That’s why it’s important to start with generic, branded, author, and naked links first.

Remember, you can still have your keyword near the anchor to provide context. Using the mortgage broker example, you can say:

“If you want to hire a mortgage broker, click here.”

By starting off this way, you’re creating a link profile that looks completely natural. Do that for a while and then you can graduate to partial and exact match anchors.

Choosing the Right Anchor Text Leads to Higher Rankings

Creating anchor text is an important piece of building your link profile and garnering higher search engine rankings.

With a little work, you can easily improve your site’s link profile, which can lead to higher results and revenue.

As a small business owner, you might find this information to be a little too much to add to your daily to-do list.

You have the support you need at the Small Business Brief Forum. If you have a question, just ask.