Why Are Anchor Texts so Important In SEO?

anchor texts

A chance for you to be honest — that clickable texts in a hyperlink, do you pay any attention to them, or do you randomly single out a group of texts and use them as anchor texts?

Best SEO practices demand that the anchor texts you choose must be relevant to that particular post or page it’s linking to, rather than a generic group of texts you singled out.

Blue is the standard color of anchor texts, but there’s no harm in changing its color to your preferred color of choice. You must also want to take note of the fact that the keywords in the anchor texts are among the signals that Google and other search engines use to determine what that particular web page or post is all about.

So What Exactly is Anchor Texts?

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If you’ve ever tried linking your content to another piece of content on your website or from outside, then most probably you know what’s meant by the term anchor text.

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Quite simply, it’s the highlighted part of a text that’s linked to another article or piece of content.

Anchor texts occur in links, as the visible and clickable text that will be linking to another article or page as specified by you.

In HTML, an anchor text appears like this:


OUR HOME PAGE is the anchor text here. It’s the text that our readers will be clicking on to be directed to our home page.

Why are Anchor Texts Important? 

There’ll always be a place for anchor texts in the world of content marketing so long as backlinks still play a crucial role in SEO. So learning about them is undoubtedly going to help you win big in terms of SEO.

anchor texts

Before the Penguin update, anchor texts were one of the ways Google could tell how relevant a particular web page or post was with regards to a specific search query.

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But as time went by, blackhat marketers would start to take advantage of the whole idea by spamming and over-optimizing their web content. So, as we speak, anchor text is one of the most natural ways Google can tell if you’re a spam site or not.

But that’s not to say that anchor texts are losing their SEO value. Not even remotely.

Their value might have dropped a little, but they’re something worth looking to if you’re working on optimizing your website for SEO.

Anchors Texts Before the Penguin Update

Before Penguin, there was so much value in sprinkling anchor texts all over a piece of article. You bulk up an article with anchors texts and your position in the SERPs drastically shoots up.

But search engines would soon realise the effect of this and make some necessary changes that would see to it that any site that pulls this trick on them would be severely penalized.

Some people would even use the same anchor texts for all their backlinks and still rank high for it. And then came the update.

Anchor Texts after the Penguin Update

The first Penguin update would see to it that the role of anchor texts in SEO takes a 360. Link building was given a complete overhaul that would completely turn its game around.

Any site that had attempted to trick them by using low-quality backlinks or plastering anchors all over was marked as spammy and penalised for it.

You must be wondering how Google was able to determine if a particular website was cooking backlinks or spamming its way to the top of the SERPs.

A no brainer:

Anchor Texts were the First Giveaway

It’s simple logic, a naturally written web page would NOT feature the same Anchor Text all through, NOT 100%. Say, you were to backlink your site using the anchor text “web designing in Singapore.” It would make sense if one or two of your backlinks feature the keyword, but if you were using the same anchor text five or more times, then it would be pretty obvious that there was something fishy going on with you.

The Penguin made Google smart enough to analyse anchor texts to determine whether or NOT that particular webpage should be penalized.

This was nothing complicated compared to the other changes made at the time.

This is critical as your site is likely to suffer the same penalty should you try to over-optimize your website for on-site SEO as we speak.

How Penguin Parses Backlinks

Penguin has to analyse the backlinks you place on your site to determine where you fall in the ranking ladder.

And this is precisely how they go about it:

  1. You write your content and backlink a few of the anchor texts.
  2. Google goes ahead to index the backlinks, but that’s NOT where it ends.
  3. The new backlinks you created will be entered into their database for that specific website for some serious link profiling.
  4. The same procedure is repeated with every new backlink that appears on your site, and the trend continues.

The next stage is the most important of all.

After your link has been analysed and profiled, the next thing that search engines do is compare it to your on-site optimization for that particular keyword.

So if the site that you’re linking to is optimized for something else other than the keyword in your anchor text, then Google will automatically mark you as a spam site and penalize you for it.

For instance, say your anchor text is “online marketing in Singapore,” but the content you’re linking to is talking about Green Tea, Google will automatically conclude that’s a spam page and reward you by dropping you further down in the SERPs.

It’s effortless for Google to tell if a particular backlink is forced. And when they do, all your attempts to rank are flushed down the drain.

The point is to both write and backlink naturally. Meaning, it’s NOT necessarily a must for you to run onsite SEO for every single piece of content you publish.

Again, the keyword you use doesn’t have to exactly match the keywords you’re optimizing on that particular webpage. So if the article you’re writing is about “the art of content marketing in Singapore” and it just so happens that the anchor text you’re using is an exact match, then Google will mark it as a spam site and penalize you for it.

Types of Anchor Texts

Not all anchor texts are the same.

And the key to creating a more natural anchor text profile begins with you understanding the different types of anchor texts.

  1.  Branded Anchors

As the name suggests, branded anchors feature the name of your brand. In our case, it’s the equivalent of featuring MediaOne marketing in an anchor text that we use.

Branded anchors are the safest of all types of anchor texts. They’re particularly important if you have a branded domain name that you’d wish to mention in an article

They’re however NOT safe if they’re precisely matching your domain name — just like we aren’t allowed to link to our home page with MediaOne marketing as the anchor text. You might want to read the latter part of this article to learn more about this.

  1.  Generic Anchors 

Generic anchors encapsulate random call-to-action texts such as click here, visit our website, follow the link, and so forth.

For instance, to direct you to another page that has the information you need, we may be forced to use the term click here in a sentence. So it becomes, clicks here to read more about…

“Click here” is a generic anchor in this case.

  1. Naked link anchors

Naked link anchors are posted as links and NOT texts. You have the links linking to themselves. For instance, to link to our homepage, we might find it fit to just provide our link www.mediaonemarketing.com.sg.

This is a naked link directing our site’s visitors to our homepage.

  1. No Text Anchors

This is a new trick that will not be landing you in any trouble with Google. Instead of providing an anchor text, you simply fill up the space with something else. This could be an image, a tag, or you could just leave it blank.

How to Use Audience Segmentation to Perform Retargeting Well

Or better use the text ‘no text.’ 

  1. Brand + Keyword Anchors

This is another safe trick you could pull to build a more natural anchor profile. It’s the same trick we used while picking a name for our agency.

We’re a marketing firm that could have done just fine with the name MediaOne, but we purposefully chose to add the word marketing at the end.

Now when we combine our brand name with a keyword; what we get is a brand + keyword anchor.

For instance, we may decide to use something like MediaOne marketing SEO tactics. This anchor text has our brand name and keyword, which makes it a brand + keyword anchor.

  1. LSI Anchors

Latent Semantic Indexing better acronym LSI represents all the keywords that are nothing but a variation of your primary keyword.  

To find an LSI to your main keyword, enter the keyword into Google and scroll to the bottom of the pages. All the LSI variations to the keyword will be provided there.

  1. Partial Match Anchors

Partial match anchors are almost similar to LSI, save for the part where you’re the one creating the variations instead of relying on tools.

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They’re considered the most natural way of creating anchor texts, which makes them way safer than LSI’s and other types of anchors.  

  1. Exact Match Anchors

These are the most powerful and sensitive of all the anchors on the list. They can tremendously propel your rank in the SERPs — and at the same time, they can easily earn you a penalty. So you’re expected to be extra careful while working them into a piece of article.

By exact match what is meant is that you’re using your target keyword as your anchor text. Happens when your anchor text matches your target keyword to a T.

Keyword Relevancy or Anchor Text Co-occurrence

Instead of using keyword rich texts in the anchor texts, you create, why not use them concurrently to create some relevancy around them.

Search engines simply check backlinks for relevancy before determining where to rank you. So why NOT serve it directly to them in a way that’s more natural.

Simple, find a way to use your target keyword and the anchor text you’re using in the same sentence. Bonus point if you can move the keyword closer enough to the anchor text.

Example 1: For Generic Anchors

The anchor text: Click here

Target Keywords: SEO in Singapore.

Sentence: To learn more about SEO in Singapore, click here.

Example 2: For Branded Anchors

The Anchor Text: Mediaonemarketing

Target Keyword: Link Building.

You can learn more about link building by contacting Mediaonemarketing today.

Example 3: For Naked Link Anchors

Target keyword: web development companies in Singapore

Here are the top web development companies in Singapore: https://mediaonemarketing.com.sg/top-web-development-companies-singapore/.

Branded Anchor Texts

Google is more concerned about the overall well-being of your site. They want you to put in the work and grow your brand.

They’re interested in this as it makes their work easier. Come to think of it, if all the websites that exist offered quality and were relevant enough to serve online users with what they need, then Google wouldn’t see the need to analyse individual websites for quality.

But since people can’t be trusted, they have devised a way to tell apart a site that qualifies to be a “brand” from a pool of spam sites.

They simply check your webpage for branded anchors, and should it turn out that they’re above 70%, then it will be officially marked as spam.

Planning how to use an anchor text to entice visitors to click on your site requires a lot of thought and preparation. Right?

A good anchor text guides your audience on what to expect when they click on the link to the article meaning that you should never use poor text or unrelated text in your post. In this article, we will look at anchor text SEO tips for Singapore digital marketers.

What is Anchor Text and Does it Matter?

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Anchor text comprises visible characters that hyperlink display in a link. It usually appears as a blue underlined clickable text.

Here’s how it looks like in HTML.

anchor text

In this example, the words in blue color are what we refer to as anchor text.

Anchor text matters a lot in search engine optimization. Besides, it’s one of the white hats practices advanced by Google right now.  So you’re better off including an anchor text on your blog posts otherwise you’ll be penalized by Google for low-quality content or over-optimization.

Anchor Text Before and After Penguin

Google’s ranking factor – Penguin has increasingly become intelligent in the way it ranks sites. Google makes frequent updates to this artificial intelligence system. Therefore, you must keep up with these changes to rank high.

Before Penguin update, you didn’t have to optimize your posts for anchor text.  However, after the first Penguin update, Google found a way of “fighting webspam” to gain a better ranking.

The use or no use of anchor text in content was another way Google determined if a website is using spam to rank. Consequently, you need to understand the importance of anchor text and how Penguin analyzes your content when link building to avoid penalties.

9 Different Effective Anchor Text for Optimizing Your Content

There are different kinds of anchor text variations that link your content internally and externally and also help you craft a natural anchor profile. Here, we’ll look into the four most effective types.

  1.  Exact Match Anchors

Exact match anchors have the power to increase your ranking. It’s good practice to optimize your pages for specific keywords that you’d rank high for in search engines. For an exact keyword match, the anchor text should precisely match the exact keyword that you want to target in your article.

  1. Branded Anchors

Sample this exact match anchor with a 20% exact-match representation. In this example the correlation is average.

anchor text

If you have a branded domain, you can choose to use it as the anchor text to link your pages.  When using branded keywords, a combination of your company name works well.

  1. The Site Name

 You can use your website’s name as anchor text. For example YourWebsite.com

  1. Phrase Match Anchors

anchor text

With phrase match anchors you use a key phrase that is closely related to the main keyword. This graph shows us how it looks like with the real correlation.

  1. Partial Match Anchors

Unlike exact match, If you’re optimizing for a particular keyword with a partial match, you’d have to use a slight variation of the keyword but in a more ‘natural’ way.

  1. Generic Anchors

Generic anchors work best as calls to action. Try to avoid generic links that tell people to ‘click here or ‘read more’ since they are not that helpful in SEO. A generic anchor features no target keyword as shown in this example.

anchor text

  1. LSI Anchors

LSI anchor is another way you can have slight variations of your main keyword. If you want to look up LSI keywords, you’ll need to type in your target keyword on Google search. The words that you find at the bottom of the page are LSI anchors. This practice helps you to build a diverse anchor profile.

  1. Image Anchors

Image anchors are an excellent way of linking your campaigns visually to help users discover information on your site. Google sights that content that makes use of images can drive high-quality traffic to your site.

  1. Naked URL Anchor

Naked URL anchor refers to your website URL as it would appear in a browser

  1. No Anchor Strategy

The no anchor is a strategy used by many big brands and features no text. We still don’t know if this approach is beneficial for optimizing web pages.

Anchor Text: Pitfalls to Avoid

There are some things that every digital marketer should learn to avoid being penalized by Google.

The number one thing every digital marketer should do is to keep page links relevant. In addition to this, avoid spamming your anchor text with generic anchor text and never use versions that are not related to link pages.

Stuffing your anchor text with keywords could get you penalized by Google. Keep away from generic anchor since it’s not an effective way of getting people to click on your site.

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Since Google uses external anchors to understand what your page is all about, some digital marketers were able to manipulate how Google ranks pages by pointing non-relevant links to their web pages. However, this was possible before Penguin updates! So, as a good practice avoid over-reliance on anchor text.

 If you don’t want web users to miss your site, make sure that your anchor text is underlined and has a contrasting color from the rest of the paragraph.

Another rule of thumb is to avoid understaffing or overstaffing your anchor text with keywords. On the same note overuse of exact-match anchor will get you penalized as this is manipulative anchor text spamming. Therefore keep exact match anchor text between 1 percent and 5 percent.

The last pitfall to avoid is fooling web users who visit your website with links that don’t look like links.

There are many excellent building strategies that a digital marketer can use to increase the chances of getting relevant links by using anchor text.

What’s the winning formula for search engine ranking? The answer to this is – use extra keyword-rich anchor text links than your opponent.

Remedies For a Penalized Site

If your site gets a penalty from what Google refers to unlawful practices, you should not fret, and neither is it the end of the world.

Few strategies have been known to work when you want to recover from a penalty. Remember a penalized site can be removed entirely from Google index. Sometimes it can be affected by an algorithmic spam action.

Depending on the severity of the penalty, you can decide to employ different tactics to tackle the problem at hand.

Sample these strategies that you can use for a penalized site;

File a Spam report with Google – Google will prioritize spam reports based on user impact, so there are chances you can get back your website on the index

Delete keyword-rich anchors from low-quality sources – If by chance you made a mistake of building your backlinks from spammy sites, you need to delete them or disavow if you have no other option. Ensure that you don’t remove helpful sites when eliminating spammy sites.

Anchor Text Diluting – A majority of penalized domains use anchor text diluting technique to rebuild after a penalty. With this strategy, you can build unoptimized backlinks on your web pages with naked link anchors. You can also use strong and relevant backlinks to create a better anchor profile., however, they are very costly.

Another way you can anchor text dilute is by creating local citations for quality link unoptimized anchors.  Additionally, you can populate social media platforms with your profile for NoFollow and Follow unoptimized anchors.

Creating and distributing high-quality press releases with the mainstream media will help you to get unoptimized anchors and build trust on your site.

Anchor-text diluting works for many penalized domains since it provides brilliant ways of building diversity in your link profile.

301 Penalty Recovery – First you need to find a high-quality expired website that is relevant to yours with naked link anchors and 301 redirect the domain to your penalized site for solid metrics. You can also start a new website and pick all the authority branded backlinks from your penalized site if it has any.

Disavow – We recommend you disavow as a rest resort in fighting harmful backlinks. Monitor Backlinks feature a fast, efficient disavow tool that helps you to spot backlink patterns and lets you filter spammy links for a deny list which you can quickly submit to Google.

Anchor Text SEO Best Practices

  1. Make Your Backlink Anchor Text Diverse

When you employ one keyword anchor in your pages, you are prone to penalties. Diverse backlinks create a genetic profile that keeps your site from being penalized.

  1. Avoid Spammy Backlink Profiles

Whenever you get a new link, make sure that it’s not low-quality otherwise you risk a penalty for spammy sites. Regularly monitor your backlinks checking which ones are working for you and the ones that are hurting you.

In addition to monitoring the backlinks, check the anchor text that your new links are using and how it affects your ranking.

  1. Use Diverse Anchor Text in Your Website

Google can penalize a spammy internal linking. Spammy internal linking takes place when you use the anchor text for internal links in your site. Avoid this at all costs.

  1. Don’t Use Exact Match Anchor Only

The use of exact match anchor only in your website can be a powerful tool for high ranking but is also a dangerous territory to venture into. You have to be tactical to know when to use this tool especially when guest posting, you may add a backlink for an exact match.

  1. Relevancy

Optimizing for anchor text alone in your pages may not work if you’re looking into ranking high.  There are many other factors that you need to consider among them – relevancy.

Backlinks that are not relevant from low-quality sites will demolish all your SEO efforts and hurt your rank. If you want to stay safe from penalties, adjust the anchor text in relevant backlinks.

Should You Build Keyword-Rich Anchors for SEO Optimization?

The answer is NO.

Here are the reasons why every digital marketer should not focus on building keyword-rich anchors right now.

Insignificant Responsibility for Sending Total Page Traffic

Keyword-Rich Links that feature the primary target keyword have a nominal responsibility of sending less than 13% of your total page traffic. You see, after the introduction of Hummingbird Google placed more emphasis on natural-language queries from web users. For this reason, pages that optimize for target keywords also rank for long-tail keyword variations.

The following screenshot is an excellent example of how organic US traffic finds emails using Ahrefs Site Explorer.

anchor text

anchor text

If you want to rank for exact match anchor, don’t focus all your energy on optimizing for one target keyword.

The Jeopardy of Building Keyword-rich Anchors

 Digital marketers who optimize for keyword anchors risk jeopardising their site from penalties by Google.  It’s an uncommon practice for people to naturally link to your page using exact match keyword anchor text.

There’s also a danger of building links with spammy sites like PBNs.

Weak Correlations  

Successful marketers engage in practices that Google algorithms correlate and rank sites for when it comes to SEO.

Besides the potential flaws, anchor text plays a dominant role when it comes to linking for relevancy for high ranking and quality traffic.

Wrap Up

Anchor text will remain a significant ranking factor in SEO and a powerful tool that web users and search engines utilize to determine whether a page is worth visiting or not. Remember that Google has an intelligent system that spots spammy, unnatural links so keep an eye on the anchor text that you optimize for ranking in your web pages.

Following the practices we’ve mentioned above, you’ll be able to pinpoint a problem anchor text and how it affects your ranking and also to avoid a penalty from Google.

Besides, using anchor text only as a strategy to rank is not recommended. Many other factors come into play for SEO ranking that a digital marketer in Singapore should know.  We suggest that you keep your anchor text as natural and relevant as possible to your pages for effective SEO, better ranking, and increased traffic all the time.

Get in touch with professional website design and search engine optimization services in Singapore. We look forward to helping your brand reign supreme online.


The Takeaway

I bet you’re surprised by the amount of weight anchor texts carry. Most people are, and the more you get to learn and understand the finer details of SEO, the more you’ll be shocked by the trivial discoveries.

With these details, you should be able to make the necessary calibration to your overall content marketing strategy or figure out what you’ve been doing wrong.

 For more info concerning anchor texts or help in optimizing them for SEO, kindly reach out to us today with your query, and we’ll be glad to help.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Social Media




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