The importance of link building cannot be overstated.  A core component of effective link building revolves around the proper distribution of anchor text.  Anchor text plays a key role in SEO by providing both users and search engines important information about the content on the link’s destination.  This article will discuss what anchor text is, how it impacts SEO, and best practices for optimizing anchor text with proper distributions.

What is Anchor Text?

Anchor text is the visible, clickable link we often see as we scroll through blogs, news articles, or other websites.  Usually the link we click has good indicators as to the information provided at the site it links to. If links are the highway of the internet, anchor text serves as the road signs. There are a variety of types of anchor text, and the most common fall into these categories:

  • Branded – This anchor text includes the name of the Brand.  For example – Firestarter SEO
  • Keyword Branded – This combines the target keyword with the name of the brand.  For example – Firestarter SEO, a Denver SEO Company
  • Exact Match – These anchors only utilize the target keyword, such as Monthly SEO Packages
  • Phrase – This type of anchor text uses a phrase, often with a target keyword included.  In this case, a nationally-renowned SEO Company.
  • Random – This anchor text is untargeted, with minimal indicators, such as this well-designed website
  • URL/Naked Link – These contain no actual text, only the website URL itself, like https://www.firestarterseo.com/

How Does Anchor Text Impact SEO?

In SEO, there are a seemingly endless number of factors to consider.  One such factor is the anchor text. Anchor text impacts SEO by providing signals to search engines as to what certain links are about.  With how search engines have evolved, they can use anchor text to see if a website is engaged in spammy link building practices.  An important indicator of healthy anchor text is the distribution of the various categories of anchor text a website possesses.  For example, if 90% of a website’s links have an exact match anchor text, that serves as a red flag to search engines that the site is trying to game the system.

Anchor Text Optimization

Anchor Text Distribution

So how is anchor text optimized?  Most importantly, from an SEO perspective, you want a healthy balance in the distribution of your anchor text.  Specifically, too much exact match can be damaging. In a case study done by Moz, they found that the large national brands they audited possessed a fairly balanced anchor text distribution, with Branded anchor text containing the majority.  

The best starting point for your website is to audit your anchor text distribution.  There a number of tools (like this) available at no cost.  Once there is a clear understanding of where your anchor text stands, develop a link building strategy to balance the categories out.  The goal is to establish a natural-looking link profile so as to prevent any potential red flags from search engines.