13 min read

Anchor Text Optimization for Backlinks: Best Practices in 2024

Dmytro Sokhach, CEO of Admix Global
Anchor text optimization

Optimizing anchor text is vital for effective offsite SEO. After all, it plays a significant role in improving your site’s ranking and visibility on SERPs.

But, let’s be honest.

Choosing the perfect anchor text isn’t as simple as it seems. It’s more than just picking keywords. It's about creating a strategic blend that works harmoniously with Google's complex algorithms.

According to our State of Link Building 2024 report, anchor text is one of the key metrics in evaluating the quality of a backlink.

anchor text key metrics

This highlights its importance in your overall SEO strategy.

No worries. I'll guide you through all the nuances.

After all, I'm here to help you make the most of anchor text for top SEO results without risking penalties.

What is Anchor Text?

Anchor text is the clickable text within a hyperlink. It's what users see and click on to navigate to another webpage.

Think of it as a signpost, guiding both search engines and users to the linked content.

In HTML, it looks like this:

<a href="https://example.com">SEO Best Practices</a>

That’s anchor text in bold, alright?

On your webpage, however, it appears as: SEO Best Practices. Here, "SEO Best Practices" is the anchor text.

To make things clearer, check out these two other examples on HubSpot:

example of anchor text on hubspot

These are two anchor texts on in HubSport’s article about internal link building tools.

anchor text in source
anchor text in source 2

And this is how these anchors look in HTML.

Anchor text serves two crucial functions:

  • It gives users a clear idea of what to expect when they click the link. For example, if you see AT like "SEO Best Practices," you know the link will take you to a page about SEO best practices. Or at least, you can expect this to happen.
  • Anchor text also tells search engines about the content and relevance of the linked page. This matters for SEO because it helps search engines understand how pages are connected and what topics they cover.

By the way, this also directly affects how those pages are ranked in search results.

Why Anchor Text is Crucial for Link Building

Anchor text is a powerful signal to both users and search engines. When used correctly, it can supercharge your SEO strategy; when misused, it can lead to penalties.

So yeah, it’s much more than just clickable text.

Now, let's explore why anchor text means a lot for link building.

Improved user experience

First off, anchor text enhances the user experience.

Clear and descriptive anchor text helps users understand what they'll find when they click a link. Say, if you use anchor text like "PPC (pay-per-click) keyword research," users will know they're headed to a resource on keyword research.

example of anchor text on semrush article

And Semrush didn’t deceive us here. This is where you’ll end up after clicking the link:

how anchor text improve user expirience

This clarity improves navigation and keeps users engaged on your site longer.

Contextual relevance

Anchor text provides context about the linked page to both users and search engines.

When you link relevant content with appropriate anchor text, it helps search engines understand the relationship between pages. This contextual linking signals to Google that your content is organized and related, boosting your site's overall SEO.

Think of it this way: if you link to a guide on "ethical link-building strategies" using anchor text like "link-building tips," it tells Google that the linked page is about link-building, enhancing its relevance and authority.

🔴 Talkin about ethical strategies. Need expert advice to avoid over-optimization and penalties? At Editorial.Link, we provide tailored link-building services designed to keep your site penalty-free. Our team of SEO experts will ensure your website achieves top search engine rankings.

Google ranking signals

Properly optimized anchor text can improve your site's visibility and ranking.

For example, if authoritative sites link to your page with relevant anchor text, it boosts your page's credibility in Google's eyes.

However, keep in mind that over-optimization can backfire. Using too many exact-match keywords can trigger Google's spam filters, leading to penalties.

A balanced approach, using a mix of branded, generic, and partial match anchors, is what you should aim for.

Avoiding google penalties

Maintaining your site's health depends on how friendly you are with Google.

Over-optimized anchor text profiles can look unnatural and may lead to penalties.

Google’s advanced algorithms can detect manipulative link-building techniques. To avoid penalties, make sure your anchor text distribution appears natural.

For instance, avoid using the same keyword-rich anchor text repeatedly. Instead, mix up your anchors and use natural language. This not only looks more organic but also enhances the user experience.

Natural anchor text helps diversify your link profile. It can include the website name, page title, generic terms, or calls to action.

When using natural anchor text, link to authoritative websites in your niche, even if they aren't directly related to your target keywords. This approach makes your content more user-friendly and credible.

Here are a few examples of natural anchor texts:

  • "Check out our latest blog post"
  • "Learn more about our services"
  • "Discover how to improve your SEO"
  • "Visit our contact page"
  • "Read this comprehensive guide"
  • "Find out more about link-building strategies"

Using natural anchor text helps build trust and authority, enhancing your site's health and SEO performance.

Types of Anchor Text for Backlinks

Grasping the different types of such text is key to building a diverse and natural backlink profile. Each type has its own role and can affect your SEO strategy in unique ways.

Want to know how to use anchor text effectively? Here’s a simple breakdown.

Exact match

Exact match anchor text (or Branded Anchor text) uses the target keyword you want to rank for.

This type is precise and directly relevant to the linked page's content. For example, if your target keyword is “white hat link building," an exact match would be:

<a href="https://editorial.link/white-hat-link-building/">white hat link-building</a>

On the webpage, it looks like this:

exact match anchor

This type clearly signals to search engines the exact topic of the linked content.

Branded

Branded anchor text includes the name of a brand or company. This type is useful for enhancing brand recognition and credibility.

For instance, if you are linking to us at Editorial.Link, a branded anchor text would be:

<a href="https://editorial.link">Editorial.Link</a>

Here’s how it appears in HubSpot’s article:

  • In HTML:
branded anchor in html
  • On the web page:
branded anchor on web page

This type of anchor text helps build brand authority and is generally safe from over-optimization penalties.

Partial match

Partial match anchor text includes your target keyword along with other words. It provides context while avoiding the risk of over-optimization.

For example, if your keyword is "domain authority," a partial match might be:

<a href="https://editorial.link/dr-vs-da/">Domain Rating (DR) or Domain Authority (DA)</a>

That’s exactly what I got in my article High Quality Backlinks: How To Get Them in 2024:

example of partial match anchor

The example above includes the keyword "Domain Authority" along with other words, making it a perfect partial match anchor text.

All in all, this method blends keywords naturally into the content, making it user-friendly and SEO-effective.

Naked link

A naked link uses the actual URL as the anchor text. This type is straightforward but offers little context to users or search engines.

Here is an example of a naked link from my article "4 Ethical Link-Building Strategies for Successful SEO":

example of naked link anchor

As you can see, a naked link uses the actual URL as the anchor text. This type is straightforward but offers little context to users or search engines.

📝 Note: While easy to implement, naked links should be used sparingly to maintain a professional and clean-looking site.

Generic

Generic anchor text uses common phrases that don’t describe the linked content or provide any useful context.

Examples include "click here," "read more," or "this page."

Although not keyword-rich, they are sometimes useful for call-to-action (CTA) elements.

For example:

If we were to include a generic anchor text in any of our articles, in HTML it would look something like this:

<a href="https://editorial.link/contact-us/">click here</a>

This link would use "click here" as the AT. Although generic anchor texts like this are commonly used for CTAs, they don't provide much context for search engines. This can impact SEO effectiveness.

Here’s another example of a generic “click here” anchor in a Harvard Business Review post about the importance of breathing:

example of generic anchor text

It directs users to a SoundCloud audio file where they can listen and compare the difference between a nervous and confident voice.

Thus, descriptive anchor texts are key to enhancing relevance and searchability. They help both users and search engines understand the linked page.

🔴 At Editorial.Link, we specialize in securing high-quality backlinks with optimized anchor text. By focusing on premium links from high DR sites, we help ensure your site ranks higher on SERPs, driving more organic traffic and enhancing your online presence.

Best Anchor Text Selection Tricks

Familiarizing yourself with different types of anchor text is essential for building a varied and natural backlink profile. After all, each type has a unique impact on your SEO strategy.

Here are some of the best tricks to ensure your anchor text selections are both effective and natural.

Variety of URL anchors

A common mistake in SEO is using the same URL format repeatedly.

This can appear unnatural to search engines.

Instead, mix up your URL anchors to mimic natural linking patterns.

Here are some examples using Editorial.Link:

  • https://editorial.link (standard)
  • https://editorial.link/ (with a trailing slash)
  • https://editorial.link/blog (inner page URL)
  • editorial.link (without "www")
  • www.editorial.link (without "https://")

Use the author's name as an anchor

Using the author’s name as such text can create a natural and authentic linking pattern.

For example, if you were linking to my profile on Editorial.Link, it would look like this:

example of author name as an anchor text

Or

one more example of author name as an anchor text

By clicking on such an anchor, you will be respectively taken to my profile page on Editorial.Link.

example of author page on website

Use SEO title as an anchor

Your SEO title tag, which appears in the search results, can be an effective anchor text. It’s common practice and naturally keyword-rich.

For instance, consider the SEO title from Backlinko's guide on building high-quality backlinks:

  • SEO Title: "The Skyscraper Technique: How to Build High-Quality Backlinks"
using seo title as an anchor

When this title is used as an anchor text, it looks like this in HTML:

<a href="https://backlinko.com/skyscraper-technique">The Skyscraper Technique: How to Build High-Quality Backlinks</a>

On the webpage, it appears as The Skyscraper Technique: How to Build High-Quality Backlinks.

Using keyword-rich titles as anchor text gives clear context to users and search engines about the linked page. This method ensures your links are relevant, informative, and natural-looking.

Using SEO titles in your anchor text can really amp up your site’s performance by getting you high-quality, relevant backlinks.

Don't use the same target anchor text more than once

Repeating the same AT can look spammy. Instead, switch up your keywords and use synonyms.

This trick helps you get credit for your keyword while avoiding over-optimization. Google’s algorithm is smart enough to recognize synonyms and related terms, thanks to latent semantic indexing (LSI).

For example, if your keyword is "digital marketing tips," you could use:

  • top digital marketing tips
  • best digital marketing advice
  • popular online marketing strategies

This variety keeps your links natural and helps avoid penalties.

Brand + target anchor

Combining brand names with target keywords is a savvy strategy, especially for product niches. This method pairs target keywords with brand terms, reducing the risk of penalties while enhancing brand recognition.

When you blend your brand name with a target keyword, you create a more varied and natural-looking anchor text. This approach not only helps in maintaining diversity in your anchor text profile but also reinforces your brand identity.

For instance, in the link-building niche, you might use:

<a href="https://editorial.link/link-building-services">Editorial.Link link building services</a>

Here’s why this strategy is beneficial:

  • Brand Reinforcement: Each time your brand name appears in an anchor text, it strengthens your brand's presence and recall. Users start associating your brand with specific keywords, which can enhance your brand's reputation.
  • SEO Balance: Google’s algorithm looks for natural linking patterns. By combining brand names with target keywords, you avoid the pitfalls of over-optimization. It’s a subtle way to include your target keywords without appearing spammy or manipulative.
  • User Trust: Links that include brand names often appear more trustworthy to users. They provide a sense of credibility and professionalism, which can encourage clicks and improve the overall user experience.
  • Versatility in Content: This strategy allows you to fit anchor texts naturally within various contexts. Whether it’s a blog post, a product page, or a news article, combining your brand with keywords can seamlessly integrate into different types of content.

Practical examples

Let’s explore more practical examples across different niches:

  • E-commerce

For a brand like "Deloitte," you could use:

<a href="https://deloitte.com/insights">Deloitte insights</a>

This link is from a study on backlink strategies where Deloitte's insights are referenced for industry research.

  • Surveys

For a brand like "HubSpot," you might use:

<a href="https://hubspot.com/state-of-marketing">HubSpot State of Marketing report</a>

This anchor text was used in a joint case study involving HubSpot, Litmus, RockContent, and Wistia.

  • Interactive assets

For a brand like "Icons8," you could use:

<a href="https://icons8.com/lunacy">Icons8 Lunacy</a>

This one shows the anchor text leading to Icons8's free design software, Lunacy, which is a highly linkable asset for generating backlinks.

All the examples above illustrate how combining a brand name with a targeted keyword can create effective ATs that boost SEO by providing relevant context to both users and search engines​.

Final Thoughts

Anchor text optimization is your secret weapon for killer SEO.

It’s not just about picking keywords—it's about crafting a natural, engaging mix that Google loves.

Think of anchor text as a signpost for users and search engines. When done right, it makes your site easier to navigate and boosts your ranking. But beware: over-optimization can land you in hot water with Google.

Simply try to keep it as natural as possible. Mix branded, generic, and partial match anchors to avoid looking spammy. Focus on user experience and accessibility—make sure your links are clear and helpful.

In short, a smart, balanced approach to anchor text builds trust and drives long-term value. Keep it varied, keep it natural, and watch your SEO soar.

🔴 At Editorial.Link, we specialize in securing high-quality backlinks with optimized anchor text. By focusing on premium links from high DR sites, we help ensure your site ranks higher on SERPs, driving more organic traffic and enhancing your online presence.

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