What anchor text is and what you should know about it

Written by
Daria Chetvertak
Jan 30, 2023
15 min read

In the modern SEO landscape, backlinks are a hot commodity. Everyone knows that they are a crucial ranking factor, but some backlink parts are often overlooked. This article is dedicated to anchor texts, which are among those overlooked parts. We’ll dive deeper into the best ways to work with anchor texts. We’ll also look at why link texts are essential for SEO. 

But what are their types? How can you create a quality anchor text for your backlink? Look no further than here to find answers to these and many more questions. 

Let’s begin with the basics 👇

What is an anchor text, and what does it look like?

Anchor text (or link text) is the visible, clickable text of a link. It’s the description of a page being linked. It’s also technically part of a link because it’s an <a> element of an HTML page. 

Here’s an example that clearly shows HTML formatting for a link text:

An example that shows HTML formatting for a link text

Anchor text usually appears in a different color than the surrounding text to make it clear for users that they can click on it. This is what it looks like on a page:

Anchor text on the website

While anchor text is a vital part of any link (both internal and external), let’s look deeper into backlink anchor texts. After all, inbound links are one of the main ranking factors. Read our handy guide if you want to know more about backlinks and why they are crucial for successful SEO.

Why are anchor link texts important for SEO?

When we are talking about the link building process, we always emphasize that working on anchor texts is an essential part of your link building strategy. And here’s why 👇

  • First, backlink anchor texts are what bring your website users to your page. It helps users understand the value of a link and what they get after clicking it. This means the referral traffic you’ll get will be more relevant.
  • Second, anchor text is the mediator between the linking page and the page that is being linked to. It helps the crawler understand the link’s relevance and this way influences your website’s rankings. The way it works is quite simple. If Google recognizes that the linked article matches your keyword included in the link text, it ranks this article as material that is relevant to this keyword.

Google says:

Links may be internal or external. In either of these cases, the better your anchor text is, the easier it is for users to navigate and for Google to understand what the page you’re linking to is about.

You may check out first-hand information to know what the guys from Google say about anchor texts.

The following section will come in handy if you want to know more about its impact on page ranking.

How do link texts influence search engine rankings?

Google uses several techniques to shape the search results, including page rank, anchor text, and proximity information.

John Mueller said that Google uses anchor text to help it understand the context of the link:

For example, if someone inserts the link to the article behind the keyword baseball card, Google will consider this article to be about baseball cards. The more pages that use the anchor link text baseball card to reference this article, the higher this article will be in search engine rankings for this keyword. This means that using the same anchor text will increase Google’s confidence that the page in question should potentially rank for this keyword.

How do link texts influence search engine rankings?

Meanwhile, repeating anchor link text too many times in your content isn’t a good idea. We’ll look at the reason why in the next section.

Mind Google’s anti-spam policies

Some SEO specialists believe that it’s best to use as many exact-match anchor texts as possible. To some extent, this makes sense. Keyword-rich anchor texts can help focus pages quickly rank for their target keywords.

However, you should bear in mind the following risk: Google’s anti-spam policies, inluding link spam, are rather strict, which is reflected in the core algorithm

Google closely examines keywords (among other things) in link texts. If Google sees that too many of the site’s inbound links show the exact same anchor text, it starts to suspect that the links haven’t been acquired naturally. So, if you don’t want the algorithm to slash your page’s SEO rankings, be cautious with repetitive word combinations. Or at least try not to overload your content with backlinks with a high percentage of keyword-rich anchor text.

Be careful with your link texts. Overloading your page with exact-match keywords can cause its SEO rankings to plummet dramatically. We’ll go over some practical tips in this section, but we’ll go over the main types of anchor texts first.

Types of anchor text

The list below presents and illustrates the most common types of texts for backlinks. You might see different namings for these anchor text types but the general idea remains the same.

  • Branded. These are the links attached to a brand name mentioned in the text. They look this way: 

SE Ranking

  • Domain or URL anchor texts. These anchor text types present links to other pages in an uncreative way. They’re also called naked links. Something like the link below would be a perfect example: 


  • Exact-match keywords or keyword-rich anchor text. These are anchor texts that contain the main keywords related to the URL being linked to. These anchor texts are typically called commercial anchor texts. Take a look at the examples below for reference: 

SEO software, Google rank checker, or competitor analysis tool 

  • Partially matching keywords. These are anchor texts that may combine branded text with a keyword or partially contain your keyword. The text below is a perfect example:

SEO software from SE Ranking or SE Ranking’s audit

  • Related keywords. This is when a related or long-tail keyword serves as the anchor text for a particular link. For example: 

Link building guide for beginners

  • Page title. Sometimes, the link is connected to the page’s name to which it leads. This is used most often by websites that add links automatically. For instance: 

Competitor Website Analysis Tool: Get SEO and PPC Insights

  • Generic links. These are links that provide little-to-no context to the page visitor or crawlers. They are very simple and involve attaching the link to generic phrases like: 

continue reading or learn more

  • Images. When an image is clickable and used as a link, its alt text functions as its anchor text. Here’s what this HTML code looks like: 

<a href=”https://seranking.com/blog/link-building/”><img src=”https://website.com/assets/questions/media/426142-1668760765.png” alt=”Link building”></a>

 Still, on the website, it might look like a regular image:

Images as a link

How do you find your or your competitors’ anchor texts?

To start working on anchor text optimization and to create or improve your anchor text plan, you first need to run a backlink analysis and find all of your anchor texts. SE Ranking’s Backlink Analyzer has all the features you need to analyze both your backlink profile or the backlinks of your competitors, including anchor texts. Use the following step by step framework for improving your anchor text plan with SE Ranking.

Check which domains link out to any website and get ideas for enhancing your backlink profile.

1. Go to the Backlinks section and click on the Backlink Checker.

Backlink Checker

2. Enter your domain name into the text field and push the Search button.

How to use Backlink Checker

You’ll see all the key data on your website’s backlink profile, including its Domain & Page Trust score, the ratio between dofollow/nofollow backlinks, the number of referring domains and backlinks, and the total number of unique anchor texts

Overview in Backlink Checker

3. To see the list of all your anchor texts, go to the Anchor Texts section, which is located on the far left of your screen underneath Backlinks

How to find all website's anchor texts

This tool provides handy tables with the most common anchor texts used in referring domains and backlinks.

4. After scrolling down, you’ll see all your website’s anchor texts and their backlinks. For a deeper analysis, you can sort them by word count. 

List of all website's anchor texts in Backlink Checker

This tool also enables you to evaluate every anchor text based on multiple parameters, including:

  • The number of referring domains with the same anchor text. 
  • The backlinks with their associated anchor text.
  • The amount of dofollow backlinks that each specified anchor text has.
  • The date when the backlink was first discovered and the date when the backlink was last analyzed by SE Ranking.
Multiple parameters to evaluate every anchor text on SE Ranking

5. You can analyze any referring domain, the backlinks coming from it, and the actual text of the anchor by clicking the drop-down menu.

Analyze any referring domain, the backlinks coming from it, and the actual text of the anchor

This tool is a super comprehensive tool. Not only does it help you find all of a backlink’s anchor texts but it also provides detailed information on each anchor. Here, you can conduct an in-depth analysis of anchor texts to work on them further and craft a well-thought-out link-building strategy.

Now that we’ve covered how to find all your anchor texts in just a few clicks, let’s get on to the most important issue—how to create anchor texts that actually improve your website’s SEO.

As mentioned above, anchor texts should be given due consideration. Otherwise, your website may be penalized by Google, or you may not see the desired results from your tireless SEO efforts.. To make anchor texts truly effective for your link building strategy, follow these three simple rules.

1. Make sure that your anchor text looks natural

Balance is the key to success. And link building is no exception. To avoid being penalized for spam, add some diversity to your anchor text strategy. Follow the two best practices below to naturalize your anchors for both search engines and users:

  • Keyword-rich anchors, which have the most impact on search engine optimization, should make up no more than 10-30% of the total. Balance commercial anchor link texts with branded ones, naked, related keywords, etc. What a balanced anchor text list looks like depends on your niche. 
  • Create an anchor text plan to systemize your work with anchor texts and link building. You need a good plan to properly distribute different anchors between the following types of focus pages: homepage, product pages, blog posts, etc. For example, the ideal backlink ratio for the homepage might be 80%-95% brand, commercial and naked anchor texts. Develop your anchor text plan by taking a unique and varied approach that’s based on SERP analyses.

2. Make your anchor text relevant

Google pays special attention to relevance. If your anchor text isn’t relevant to the page of the website that your backlink leads to, or to the linking page itself, you risk being penalized by Google, which may consider the link spam.

To ensure your links are sending strong relevancy signals:

  • Choose anchor text that provides at least a basic idea of what the page being linked to is about.
  • Use keywords that are relevant to your page, but don’t over-stuff it.
  • Avoid using lengthy or vague anchor text. Aim for short but descriptive text that consists only of a few words or a short phrase.

When reaching out to a site to offer your content or requesting a link to your mention on the external website, ask for specific anchor text.

3. Don’t trick your readers

We already discussed why anchor text relevance is important for search engines, but don’t forget about how important relevance is to users, too. Sure, users don’t directly impact your website’s rankings, but you need to please them not only because it’s the right thing to do but also for your own benefit. Remember— backlinks (with the anchors we are talking about) drive referral traffic to your website. Referral traffic could potentially turn into leads and eventually into clients. 

This means you should do your best to attract visitors to your website by making them feel like they should be your customers. How can you do this with anchor texts? 

Don’t make your anchors vague and misleading. Your visitors will be disappointed if they click on the anchor, text best SEO trends, only to be taken to a commercial landing page that offers your business’s SEO services. You should always be honest with your audience. Otherwise, you risk losing the trust of potential customers.

And, of course, make sure your link text is clickable and that it stands out from the rest of your content. Otherwise, visitors will be unaware of any link, and it may be considered cheating both the user and the search engine.

To understand your anchor text issues, you should regularly monitor backlinks. You can do it by using SE Ranking’s Backlink Monitoring tool, which gives you a bird’s eye view of your current link building situation, which includes your anchor texts. 

SE Ranking's Backlink Monitoring tool

Here, you can add the backlinks you need (you can do this manually with SE Ranking’s Backlink Checker or by using Google Search Console) and monitor any changes in your anchors. For instance, let’s say the donor website changed the anchor text of a link leading to your page. This change may not be good for your link building strategy, but luckily you can track and deal with situations like these right away. Use the tools mentioned above to keep track of your results and analyze the effectiveness of each anchor text. They will help you understand how successful your current anchor strategy is and what you need to improve upon to gain better results. 

Internal links and anchor texts

Anchor texts work well not only for backlinks but also for internal links. By using internal links, you create a network of connections between the different pages on your website. Using the right anchor texts within your website helps Google understand the relevance of your internal pages. It also creates an additional semantic core or even boosts the current semantic core for each page. Paying more attention to the anchor text used for internal links also helps users navigate your site better. The best part, however, is that you have complete control over the anchor texts used for internal linking. 

Stick to the rules above about backlinks. Supplying your content with the most relevant and natural anchor texts that attract users to click and visit your pages will do you a world of good. 

Don’t link for the sake of it. And, of course, avoid spam!

Wrapping up

Now you understand the importance of anchor text in SEO and its role in providing a positive visitor experience. You also understand how to use various link text types as well as how to avoid the most common mistakes. 

Your next step is to put theory into practice. Let’s go over some of the main points we covered:

  • Make anchor texts natural and relevant. The better your anchor text is, the easier it is for users to navigate. Google will also have an easier time understanding what the page you’re linking to is about.
  • Use keyword-rich anchor texts. These help focus pages rank for target keywords really fast. But don’t overload your content with a high percentage of keyword-rich anchor texts. 
  • Monitor your backlinks and changes in anchor texts. This will help you understand how successful your current anchor strategy is and what you need to do to gain better results. 

Once you come up with excellent anchor text ideas, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments section below the post!

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