Of course you are. However, you shouldn’t be completely happy yet. First, let’s talk about anchor text. Anchor text is the word or words that shows up on a page as a hyperlink. You click on the words to go to the linked web page. Years ago, a lot of links said “click here,” simply so that people would know that they ought to click.
Now, all your visitors understand that they should click on the link. Now, the big job of the anchor text is to let people and search engines know more about the page being linked to.
Let’s say that your website, a pet store, got a link from a blog about geckos. “These guys have the best geckos,” says the link. The search engines robots see that, and conclude that your site has some value to offer to people seeking geckos. Another link comes along, in the sidebar of a blog about dogs, with the anchor text “Pet Store.” The search engines notice that a pet-related site agrees that you’re a pet store. People looking for things about pets, the robots conclude in their metaphorical minds, should be offered your site.
Now put yourself in the position of one of our clients, a rock band. They’re getting a link from a computer shop, with an image. The search engines look at this, and think, “What the heck?” Robots can’t see pictures, and there’s no anchor text to clue them in.
It’s a link, but it doesn’t offer any additional information about what our client does, who they are, or what they have to do with computers.
What’s more, search engines know that there is some misuse of links. In both our pet shop examples above, visitors can tell that they’ll be going to a pet shop if they click on the link. Bad linking practice has links with random words and surprises visitors — for example, if you clicked on the word “best” in “best geckos” and ended up at a place that sells insurance, you would feel tricked. Without anchor text, the search engines can’t tell whether there’s some link abuse going on.
You need good anchor text. When you place a link yourself, make sure that the text you use for your link is a good choice for your website. If someone else gives you a link, you can often ask for the anchor text you prefer.
What’s good anchor text?
Good anchor text provides useful information for human and robot visitors.
- Your anchor text should be descriptive. For our client in the example above, the logo the computer store is using will tell the human visitors who they are and where the link is going to take them, but it won’t tell the search engines. Ideally, both types of visitors will know just where they’re going and what they’re going to find there. The name of the band, a descriptive term like “family music,” or a specific description of the link destination such as, “online music store” or “tour dates” will give the information needed.
- Your anchor text should include your keywords. A recent link request to our lab site came from someone who said that of course he wasn’t telling us what to write, but that he was working on the key phrase “spelling software.” Naturally, we used his preferred phrase; it’s a good keyword for his product, so we were able to use it quite naturally in reviewing his product. When you put in your own anchor text, as you do when creating a social media profile or placing a link in a directory, you can make sure that your anchor text uses the keywords your potential customers will use to search for you.
- Your anchor text should be varied. It’s natural for different people to use different words when they write about things. Therefore, search engines find links with varied anchor text more convincing than a lot of links with the same anchor text. When you place your own links, or when you request links, try to use different phrases. Our client can, when doing linkbuilding, use the name of the band, the common abbreviations for the name of the band, or the type of music they play. Just make sure not to use any anchor text that is deceptive or unclear to human visitors.
You can’t always control the anchor text used by sites giving you natural links to your website, but creating good anchor text when you can will benefit your site.