Anchor Text

Anchor Text

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Anchor Text

 

Code Sample

<a href="http://www.example.com">Example Anchor Text</a> 

Optimal Format

SEO Friendly anchor text is succinct and relevant to the target page.

What is an Anchor Text?


Anchor text is the visible characters and words that hyperlink display when linking to another document or location on the web. In the phrase "CNN is a good source of news, but I actually prefer the BBC's take on events," two unique pieces of anchor text exist for two different links - "CNN" is the anchor text pointing to http://www.cnn.com/, while "the BBC's take on events" points to http://news.bbc.co.uk.

Search engines use this text to help determine the subject matter of the linked-to document. In the example above, the links would tell the search engine that when users search for "CNN", SEOmoz.org thinks that http://www.cnn.com/ is a relevant site for the term "CNN" and that http://www.bbc.co.uk is relevant to "the BBC's take on events". If many sites think that a particular page is relevant for a given set of terms, that page can manage to rank well even if the terms NEVER appear in the text itself.

Link Anatomy

In the example above, "Jon Wye's Custom Designed Belts" would be the anchor text of this link.

SEO Best Practice


As search engines have matured, they have started identifying more metrics for determining rankings. One metric that stood out among the rest was link relevancy. Link relevancy is determined by both the content of the source page and the content of the anchor text. It is a natural phenomenon that occurs when people link out to other content on the web.

This is most easily understood with an example. Imagine that someone writes a blog about whiteboard markers. Ever inclined to learn more about their passion, they spend part of their day reading online what other people have to say about whiteboard markers. Now imagine that while reading on their favorite topic they find an article about the psychological effects of marker color choice. Excited, they go back to their website to blog about the article so their friends can read about it.

When they write the blog post and link to the article, they get to choose the anchor text for the link pointing at the article. They could choose something like “click here,” but more likely they will choose something that it is relevant to the article. In this case, they choose “psychological effects of marker color choice.” Someone else who links to the same article might use the link anchor text “marker color choice and the affect on the brain.”

This human-powered information is essential to modern-day search engines. The search engines can use it to determine what the target page is about and thus which queries it should be relevant for. These descriptions are relatively unbiased and produced by real people. This metric, in combination with complicated natural language processing, makes up the lion’s share of link relevancy indicators online.

Other important link relevancy indicators are link sources and information hierarchy. For example, the search engines can also use the fact that someone linked to the whiteboard marker article from a blog about whiteboard markers to supplement their algorithms understanding of the given page's relevancy. Similarly, the engines can use the fact that the original article was located at the URL www.example.com/vision/color/ to determine the high-level positioning and relevancy of the content.

Key Points:

  • If many links point to a page with the right keywords in their anchor text, that page has a very good chance of ranking well. Real examples of this include the search engine result pages for the queries, "click here" and "leave". Many of the Google results for these queries rank solely due to the anchor text of inbound links.
  • People have a tendency to link to content using the anchor text of either the domain name or the title of the page. This is an advantage to SEOs who include keywords they want to rank for in these two elements.

Importance of the First Anchor Text

SEOmoz experiments have shown that if two links are targeting the same URL, only the anchor text used in the first link is counted by Google.

Anchor Text

More recently, several webmaster have run experiments showing ways to count multiple anchor text phrases contained on the same page and pointing to the same target. This is accomplished by creating anchors on the target page and linking to those anchors using hashags, such as the way SEOmoz links to blog post comments:

<a href="../blog/example-post#jtc142864">Second Anchor Text</a> 

 

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