Offsite SEO & Link Building

Anchor Text Best Practices

November 4, 2019

What is Anchor Text?

Anchor text is the words covering a link to another page on the same website or another website. By default, most browsers will show anchor text as blue, underlined text, though this can be changed relatively easily through CSS styling.

Example: I'm anchor text.

That was pretty self-explanatory, no? That link is "empty." It just adds a hash to the end of the URL. In the practical world, obviously, that would go to another page.

Anchor Text Types

When you're browsing the web, you'll likely encounter a mix of the following types of anchor text - note that we haven't linked the examples, but pretend, for the purposes of this article, the underlined text links to a press release announcing the new iPhone on and our target keyword for this press release is "smartphone." Let's take a look:

  • Naked links - - It's debatable whether or not this is technically anchor text since it's really a lack of any anchor text. But hey, in my opinion, it is - and And if there's anything I'm an expert on, I'm an expert on my opinion.
  • Branded anchor text - "In a press release issued by Apple, we learned that..." - These will typically show up as part of a sentence, or as a source reference. These can also be the names of products, trademarks, or slogans that uniquely relate to the brand in question. For example, the anchor text "iPhone 11" is branded anchor text.
  • Exact keyword anchor text - "The new smartphone is stunning..." - Exact keyword anchor text, otherwise known as crack cocaine for SEOs, is by far the most powerful authority transfer anchor text medium. But, with great power, comes great responsibility. We'll talk about these in-depth shortly.
  • Partial-match anchor text - "The new phone is stunning..." - If the target keyword is "smartphone," then an example of a partial-match keyword would be "phone."
  • "CHARM" anchor text - "Click here to see the press release." - This is a term we use at Propellic use to describe anchor text similar to "Click Here" and "Read More" (hence, CHARM - where the "A" is "and"). Many SEO bloggers call these "General" anchor text. While absolutely true, I personally prefer to call them what they are. Other variations include "Learn More," "Next," "Previous," and the simple, "here."

Which Anchor Text Type Should You Use?

If you're building links (through outreach) for yourself or for a client, you often have the ability to influence which of these is used in the link you're building. I get this question at least once every month: which type of anchor text should be used most?

You should be using a diversified and weighted combination of each of the 5 main anchor text types (Naked links, branded, exact keyword, partial-match keyword, and CHARM anchor text) to minimize the chance you'll leave obvious footprints and risk getting a penalty from Google Search Console.

How To Avoid Anchor Text Footprints

Whenever we have a conversation about link building, we must consider the concept of "footprints." What is a link building footprint? - A link building footprint is any trail you leave of unnatural link building patterns. Here are some examples of link building footprints:

  • Acquiring an unnatural number of links in a short period of time, followed by nearly halted link acquisition
  • Acquiring links with disproportionally high frequencies of a certain type of anchor text (for example, acquiring 15 high-quality links that all use the same exact-match anchor text - BIG nono)
  • Acquiring a disproportionate ratio of links from less-common TLDs (top-level domains) - for example, .ru, .bid, .download, and so-on.
  • Getting .edu links when you don't have any valuable non-Edu links (this is a very common one)

As you can see, there are lots of ways to establish unnatural footprints. An anchor text footprint is not a good thing. Leaving a footprint means you are building links in an unnatural pattern, which will increase the likelihood of a link scheme penalty, as defined in the Google Search Console help docs.

I hope that helps! If you need a hand, I encourage you to check out our SEO Services page or schedule a 60-minute consultation with me.

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