Anchor text is the hyperlinked words on a web page – the words you click on when you click a link.
Here's an example, reciprocal links, in which “reciprocal links” is the anchor text.
Anchor text usually gives your visitors useful information about the content of the page you're linking to.
Here's why anchor text is so important…
It tells search engines what the page is about. Used wisely, it helps boost your rankings in search engines, especially in Google.
If you use “click here” as the words people are going to click on, you're telling people the page is about the subject “click here”. If you use “Part 2” as the anchor text, you're telling the search engines the page is discussing “part 2”.
You wouldn't want to rank highly for “click here” or “Part 2”.
Anchor text is so important that it's possible for a page to appear in the top 10 in Google's search results for a phrase which isn't mentioned anywhere on the page.
For years, blog publishers have had fun using “Google bombing” to get pages ranked highly for humorous phrases. If the phrase is obscure, only a handful of links will win the phrase a No.1 ranking. If it's highly competitive, hundreds or thousands of links might be needed.
In January, 2007, Google created an algorithm which reduced the impact of many prank Google bombs, but anchor text is still very important.
When asking other sites to link to your site, it's a good idea to provide them with the HTML code ready to cut and paste into their page. That way, you choose the anchor text.
However, if your site is all about purple widgets, you don't want only “purple widgets” to be used as the phrase in every link to your site. Over-optimizing anchor text like that would create an unnatural pattern.
In 2012, Google made major changes to its algorithm, penalizing websites and blogs that were “over-optimized”. It's now more important than ever that your linking pattern should look NATURAL. It's perfectly natural for a site to get links from other sites' recommendations, social media, guest posts, press releases, blog comments (including do-follow and rel=”nofollow links”, which don't pass PageRank), a few forums in your niche, and so on.
It's also natural to have a few links on other people's sites that say things like “click here” or “visit site” and simple links displaying your site's domain name or URL. What you DON'T want is to have a large concentration of one type of link.
You can use anchor text in:
- External links – links from other sites
- Internal links – links on your pages
- Navigation maps
- Links on your main page. A very important spot.
Remember that real live humans will read your links as well as search engines, so the words in your anchor text need to make sense!