An anchor text is an element of the linking structure in a standard HTML text link.
If you’ve ever looked at an HTML document, you may have seen something like this:
<a href=”https://www.some-domain-name.com”>Some Domain Name</a>
This piece of code renders as text links in HTML documents and webpages.
The part with the “http:” is the destination URL. This is the webpage where the link will take the visitor once they click on it.
The part after that says “Some Domain Name” – this is the anchor text.
The Purpose of an Anchor Text
The anchor text is supposed to describe what a webpage is about in a few words. However, there is no limit to how long an anchor text can be. Not only does the anchor text tell a user what a webpage is about, it also signifies to the search engine what the content on that webpage is about. Due to this direct correlation between anchor text keywords and ranking for those keywords in the search engines, anchor text have been a big factor in SEO link building over the years.
For example, if you have a webpage about green apples, then you may choose to use “Green Apples” or something similar as the anchor text when building text links. But, hold on, before you go berzerk and build hundreds of text links using the same anchor text – beware. Google’s Penguin is on the lookout.
Anchor Text, Past
Because links were and is still such a big factor of search engine rankings, it was commonplace to see SEOs and webmasters using the same anchor text over and over again in their link building campaigns. This led to a widespread misusage of anchor text and spamming. So, what does Google do when they know people are manipulating their search engine rankings through loopholes in the algorithm? They update their algorithm. And, that’s exactly what happened. In April 2012, Google released the first version of the Penguin update.
Anchor Text, Present
According to Google, Penguin affects a little over 3% of search queries in English. Although Penguin works to combat many problems of spammy SEO techniques, anchor text is a big part of that equation. So, today it is not safe to use the same anchor text on all or most of your text links. Try to diversify your anchor text and spread them out across different referral sites.
For example, say you have a site about green apples. For the first text link, you could use “Green Apples” as the anchor text. Then, for the next 5 to 10 links, you could use different variations of anchor text keywords, like “Community for Green Apples” or “Green Apple Guide”, etc.. Also, building links for your sub-pages is a good idea. Having all your backlinks point to your homepage may appear unnatural to the search engines.
Track Your Anchor Text
There are many online tools and SEO software that allow you to check the percentage that an anchor text is being used for your site. Check your backlink profile using one of these tools and then do some research to come up with a set of alternative keywords that you can use to counter-balance and diversify your anchor text.
There are a few reasons why I disagree with how Google is handling anchor text at the present time:
- Innocent sites may get penalized even if all of their backlinks are completely natural. If Google deems your backlink profile as being “unnatural,” you can be penalized. Period.
- When most people link to other sites, they usually use the name or title of the site. So, a site with an EMD (exact match domain), could potentially be penalized through Google’s algorithm because nearly everyone links to a site using the site name or EMD.
- Competitors may be able to sabotage you. Think about it – a competitor could pay for a thousand spammy links to your site and one day your site will have disappeared from page one.
What are your thoughts?