What Is Anchor Text? A Beginner-Friendly Guide

Whether it was on a website, personal blog, or news site, you’ve undoubtedly clicked on anchor text many times before — even if you didn’t know what it was called. 

But what is anchor text exactly, and why is it crucial to optimize it? Here’s everything you need to know. 

Key Takeaways

  • Anchor text is the clickable text of a hyperlink.
  • The benefits of optimizing your link text include improving your website’s user experience and SEO performance.
  • There are multiple types of anchor text: exact match, partial match, branded, naked, related, generic, and image.
  • Avoid over-optimization and track your anchor text performance for best results.
what is anchor text

Anchor text, also called link text, is the clickable text of a hyperlink. Compared to standard texts, anchor texts are typically a different color (traditionally blue) and are usually underlined on web pages. 

Clicking anchor texts will automatically redirect you to the linked page.

If you’ve ever viewed the HTML code of a page before, you know that anchor text looks different behind the scenes.

Here’s an example of how anchor text looks in HTML code: 

<a href=”http://www.examplewebsite.com”>Example Anchor Text</a>

On the page of a site, the words “Example Anchor Text” would display as the clickable words only without the code and would link to the “example website” URL.

The Importance of Anchor Text

There are quite a few reasons why anchor text is important. For starters, it improves your website’s user experience by indicating what the linked page is all about to your visitors.

For example, if you see anchor text that says “benefits of sleep,” you automatically assume that clicking that anchor text will redirect you to a web page that discusses the benefits of sleep.

Anchor text is also important for search engines. It helps Google’s algorithm and search engine crawlers understand your content better. It also helps it grasp your website’s structure, especially with internal links.

The more relevant and descriptive the anchor text, the better it will be with SEO-friendliness and improving your website’s user experience.

While these CTAs have their place, you should generally avoid generic and vague anchor texts such as “click here” and “learn more.” They aren’t descriptive enough to engage the reader and aren’t very helpful for search engines either.

Spending time on your anchor text can boost your SEO efforts and keep your web visitors around for longer. 

types of anchor text

You can use seven different types of anchor text. Here’s a quick look at each one and the most notable differences. 

1. Exact Match Anchor Text

This is the most common type of anchor text. Exact match anchor text is made up of the primary keywords of the page it’s linking to.

A good example of exact match would be linking to a web page that revolves around free plagiarism tools using the anchor text “free plagiarism tools.”

However, it’s best to use exact match anchor text sparingly, as Google can penalize for excessive use.

2. Partial Match Anchor Text

As you’ve probably guessed, partial anchor text is one that contains a variation of the target keyword of the linked-to page.

Referring to the previous example, if you’re linking to a web page that discusses free plagiarism tools, partial anchor text would be “best free plagiarism tools in 2023.”

Note that partial anchor text can be a portion of the target keyword or the entire keyword with a few added words.

3. Branded Anchor Text

This is when you use a brand name as the anchor text (or a brand name plus a keyword). This type is great to use when you’re including external links and need to cite a source or want to link to a specific URL directly. 

An example of a branded anchor would be “Facebook,” linking directly to Facebook’s homepage. An example of a branded anchor with an added keyword would be “Facebook analytics.”

4. Naked Anchor Text

This is when a site’s URL is used as the anchor text. 

Examples include the following: 

Naked anchor text is commonly used in reference lists, which you can find at the end of many articles. It’s not commonly used within the body of an article because it can look disorganized and affect readability. 

Differentiating between related and partial anchor text can be challenging. The main difference is that related doesn’t include the keyword, whereas partial match does (but with some variation).

Let’s say you’re trying to link to a page that’s targeting the keyword “link-building strategies.” You can use anchor text that says “guest blogging strategies,” and it would count as related anchor text since guest blogging is, in fact, a link-building strategy.

Related anchor text is quite popular because it helps you provide a good deal of context without using the same keyword repeatedly, which isn’t good for SEO.

6. Generic Anchor Text

Generic link text is exactly what it sounds like: it’s text that doesn’t provide any contextual information. Examples include “Click here,” “Learn more,” “View more,” and the like.

While it’s okay to use this type of anchor text sometimes — it’s not that helpful for users or search engines, so keep it to a minimum. 

7. Image Anchor

Images can contain external links and be clickable. In this case, the alt text of the image doubles as the anchor text. For example, an image of a cat lying in the sun might contain the alt text of “black-and-white cat bathing in the sun.” If you’ve ever had traffic come in from search engines’ image searches, it was due to descriptive alt text. 

Note that alt text is typically longer and more descriptive than standard link text. Use your keyword in alt text, but don’t overdo it with multiple variations or secondary keywords. 

4 Tips for Optimizing Anchor Text

Now that you’re aware of the importance of anchor text and its different types, let’s go over some tips you can use for SEO.  

1. Relevance Is Key

The most important tip when it comes to optimizing anchor text is to make it as relevant as possible. This is so site visitors and search engines can understand what the link is about.

The more relevant your anchor text is, the more natural it’ll appear to your readers. This, in turn, increases the chance of your anchor text getting clicked.  

Your clickable text should be made up of words or phrases that match — even partially — the topic of the embedded link.

You should also pay close attention to the surrounding text. The more context the surrounding text provides, the better your underlined anchor text will be understood by humans and bots alike.

2. Incorporate Variety

Sticking to one type of anchor text isn’t a good idea, especially with exact match anchor text. The excessive use of a single type might be perceived as spam by Google.

With that in mind, incorporate variety into your link text. 

Mix and match exact-match anchors with related, partial-match, and branded for best results, and limit your use of generic, naked, and image anchors.

3. Avoid Over-Optimization

Relying on the same keyword-rich anchors repeatedly leads to over-optimization of your link text. Using different types of link text will help keep your content natural. 

Limit link text to six words or fewer to keep things descriptive but concise. Avoid unnatural anchor text distribution, including multiple links in one sentence or excessive links in one paragraph.

4. Track Your Anchor Text

While it’s not the easiest thing to do, testing and tracking link text is important. This is because it highlights how anchor text affects your website’s SEO and performance in search engines.

There are many tools you can use to track the performance of your link text. Our favorite is Linkio’s Anchor Text Categorizer. It takes some getting used to, but it’s guaranteed to help with your SEO.

Anchor Your SEO Efforts

Now that you know what anchor text is, you can work on improving yours.

With a little effort, you can turn your link text into helpful prompts that keep your readers around for longer while boosting your SEO efforts.