Anchor text — or link text — is the visible, clickable text of a link. It usually appears in a different color than the surrounding text and is often underlined. Good link text tells the reader what to expect if they click on the link. Getting your anchor text right increases the chance of someone clicking on your link, and helps search engines by giving them context.
What does an anchor text look like?
Anchor text describes the article being linked to and entices visitors to click. Even search engines understand that the linked article is relevant because the URL and the link text correlate. So, for example, if you were to link to this article, you might use the link/anchor text like this: What is anchor text? So you link to other articles in a way that looks natural to the reader.
What does anchor text look like in HTML? The first piece of code is the URL, while the second part describes the link – and this is the anchor text. Like this:
Why are link texts important for SEO?
Links are important for SEO: you need to add internal links, for example, to make your site structure clear to search engines. The text of the link helps search engines make sense of your (internal) links; it gives them more context. When you link to other content, Google uses the link text as an indicator of the topic of the linked page. If the link text matches your keyphrase, Google will not be able to tell which article is the most relevant for that topic and should rank for that keyphrase. So yes, anchor text is a ranking factor for Google.
Besides adding context to links for search engines, link text is also important to your users. The anchor text clarifies the value of a link and tells them where it leads them. So, using the focus keyphrase in the link text can be confusing for both search engines and your users. That’s why you should actively avoid competing links.
Different kinds of link text
Anchor text is relevant for both your internal links and your incoming external links. External sites can link to your content in various ways.
- Branded links: A link with your brand name as an anchor, like Yoast.
- The URL itself: Just your site’s URL without a text, like https://yoast.com. Not that helpful in most instances.
- Site name: written as Yoast.com.
- Article title: Exact matching the article, like What is anchor text?.
- Exact keywords: Your focus keyword/keyphrase as anchor text
- Partially matching keywords: Using variants of your focus keyword to make a readable link.
- Related keywords: Not a direct match, but a keyword or keyphrase that is closely related to the main one.
- Generic links: Try to avoid these ‘Click here’ and ‘Read more’ links. Tell people what a link is about. Otherwise, they’re guessing.
Link focus keyphrase check in Yoast SEO
The Yoast SEO plugin comes with a link focus keyphrase check, which can help you improve your link text. This check warns you when it detects competing links in your text. A link is considered a competing link when its anchor text contains the focus keyphrase that you want your page to rank for. So, the link focus keyphrase check assesses the links on a page and their anchor text and notifies you if you have competing links. If you have Yoast SEO Premium, the check will also look for the synonyms of your keyphrase.
Let’s consider an example. Say you have written an article about potato chips, so your focus keyphrase is ‘potato chips.’ If you then use a link with the anchor text ‘potato chips’ in that same post, that link is considered a competing link.
When Yoast SEO detects a competing link, it displays a warning message in the SEO analysis results.
How to improve your anchor link texts
So, what do you do if Yoast SEO warns you that you have competing links in your text? Follow the tips below to improve your link texts!
1. Create a natural flow
Writing, in general, should have a natural flow. The same is true for link texts. When adding links, make sure they fit well with the rest of the text. Look at it like this. If you are struggling to squeeze in a link in a sentence, the link probably doesn’t belong there. It’s better to put it somewhere else, and avoid making your texts unnatural and difficult to read. So, while links are important for SEO, you should make sure that they don’t get in the way of the message you want to convey.
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2. Match the link text with the content you’re linking to
A good practice for writing link texts is matching the text of the link with the content of the page you are linking to. When a reader sees the linked text, they should immediately know what to expect if they click on it. Take a look at the text in the image below.
The links in this example blend in seamlessly with the rest of the text. Moreover, you know precisely what to expect if you click on a link. For example, the link text “content analysis in the Yoast SEO plugin” clearly leads to a post explaining the Yoast SEO content analysis features. How about the link text “meta description.” The sentence the link belongs to is about optimizing your text. So, you would expect that the link leads to a post about optimizing meta descriptions. And that’s what it does.
3. Don’t trick your readers
In the example above, the link texts are used responsibly. That is very important. You should not try to trick your readers with links. For instance, if your link text says “potato chips,” it would be bad practice to have that link take the reader to a car dealership page.
4. Make clear the link text is clickable
Lastly, make it evident to the reader that the link text is clickable. You can do that by using a different color for the link, underline it, or both.
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5. Bonus tip: put your entire keyphrase in quotes
Let’s say you are writing an article with the long-tail focus keyphrase ‘learning how to knit.’ If you use any of those words from the focus keyphrase in a link text, you may get feedback from Yoast SEO advising you to change it. To avoid getting a red bullet for the focus keyphrase in link check, you can put the entire keyphrase in quotes, so the analysis only matches the entire phrase, instead of the individual words.
Internal links and anchor texts
We all know that internal links are essential. Yoast SEO has a built-in internal link tool that makes it a lot easier to find related content to link to on your site. Whenever you add a relevant link to your article, you also need to think about the anchor text. By thinking carefully about how and why you link these articles to improve your internal linking structure you can help both users and search engines navigate your site easier.
To make the most of internal links try to only add links that add real value to users. Write great anchor text for them, so readers know this link has been carefully selected to help them find out more. Don’t link for the sake of it. Make it relevant and useful. And of course, don’t spam!
This is anchor text
Anchor text helps both users and search engines decide whether a link is worth visiting. Some people try to game this system, but don’t fall into this trap. These days, Google has is pretty good at spotting links that are unnatural and even harmful. So, keep it natural and relevant, and you’ll be good to go!
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