You can implement all of these types of anchor text on your site, but it’s important to know the context behind everything before you start using them.
Anchor Text and the Google Penguin Update
You have probably heard of the Google Penguin update.
That this update targeted was the abuse of anchor text as a ranking factor: link profiles that look like the anchor text had too much manipulation in it.
Google Penguin specifically targeted websites that had too much exact-match anchor text.
Before the update, people started to reverse engineer what Google was looking for and they eventually overdid it. Google realized that if you look at all these link profiles and you look at how people would normally link, they’re not linking the way an SEO does it.
Google tried to identify a lot of these link manipulations they found on the web and they penalized a lot of sites for it.
Keep this in mind: before Penguin, people overdid it, but there are now safeguards in place to prevent this going forward. So, getting a little bit of everything is OK.
You don’t want all generic anchors (if you have 100 links and they all use “click here” as anchor text, that’s not great). You don’t want all anchors to be exact match either (if you have 100 links and they all use “cheap shoes” as anchor text, that’s not great either).
Think about the balance of it all: Natural link profiles are messy–the Internet itself is a really messed up place. People mess stuff up all the time with broken links and broken anchors and misspellings.
It’s ok if you have a mix of different anchor texts, so don’t worry too much about getting exact match all the time, because it’s not only unnatural, but it can look very synthetic and you might end up being prone to an over-optimization penalty from Google.
As one of the best examples on the Internet, look at Wikipedia.
They do a phenomenal job of internal linking and they always have really good, descriptive anchor text.
That’s the rule of thumb you want to follow because the idea here is to be useful to users and search engines:
- Do your keyword research,
- Make sure your primary keyword is at the top of your mind, but just be descriptive about the documents you’re linking to.
It’s good for users and it’s good for search engines as well.
Our Preferred Type of Anchor Text
My personal favorite type of natural anchor text is branded partial match (a mix of branded anchor text and partial-match anchor text).
Basically, what I do is get a variation of the core keyword in there, and my brand in the anchor text.
So, for example, I have a page I’m trying to rank for “SEO checklist”, and I often link to it with a phrase like “great SEO checklist from ClickMinded” or “awesome SEO checklist – ClickMinded”.
This type of anchor text offers a great, nice, healthy balance because it gets a bit of everything in it.
That’s it, that’s the high-level overview of how link anchor text works and how they can help you rank higher in the search engines.
Remember, it’s all about balancing out the different types of anchor texts and being natural about it!
Even More Resources
If you’re new to SEO (and online marketing in general), be sure to take a look at a few of the resources we’ve put together for you, like our SEO strategy guide and our digital marketing strategy guide.