How To Determine And Optimize Link Anchors For SEO?
When it comes to SEO, of course, everyone knows the capital importance of links. But beyond the hyperlinks, the anchor behind which the link is “hiding” is also decisive and is one of the many points that must be considered for a successful SEO strategy.
Link anchors, also called “link texts”, are indeed one of the essential factors of SEO. Both because they are part of the positioning criteria used by search engines. They allow Internet users to identify the content of a page that is the subject of a link before clicking on this last.
In this article, we will see how to optimize your link texts and how to choose them.
What is a link anchor?
The average Internet user does not necessarily pay attention to it. Harmless in appearance, these texts on which we place links play an essential role in natural referencing.
- The link is a URL referring either to an internal site on which we are located or external.
- The anchor is this word (or set of words) on which we can click and find today on all web pages.
These links, therefore, hidden inside a text, are often highlighted by the CSS file on site: they are usually of a different colour from that of the text, they can be underlined, in bold, and even everything.
The different types of link text
1. Optimized Anchor
Anchor text is considered an “exact match” if it includes a keyword that reflects the page to which it is linked.
For example: “IoT strategy” refers to an article helping to set up an IoT strategy.
2. Widened Anchor
Also called “semi-optimized”, this anchor is a variant of the keyword of the linked page.
For example, “Internet of Things” also refers to the article helping set up an IoT strategy.
3. Brand Anchor
As the name suggests, this is simply writing the name of the linked brand as anchor text.
For example, “Facebook” refers to Facebook.
4. Bare Anchor
We speak of a bare link when a URL is presented as a link anchor.
https://www.facebook.com/ is a bare link anchor.
5. Generic Anchor
This is the use of a generic word or phrase as an anchor.
“Click here” is a widely used generic anchor.
You can make the images clickable: when an image is linked, Google uses the text of the “alt” attribute of the image as anchor text.
Good SEO Practices
We need to distinguish between two types of link anchors that you create and those that external sites formulate to return to your site (backlinks). Most of the time, you have no control over these, which is why we’re going to talk about best practices that will govern how best to use anchor text within your website.
1. Short Anchor Text
To my knowledge, there is no specific character limit on link anchors. But it’s good to keep your link text as short as possible. The text you choose for your anchor must take into account two main factors:
- What is the most concise and precise way to describe the page to which the link refers?
- What is the word or phrase that would best entice your users to click on this link?
2. Relevance of the Target Page
As search engines have perfected, they have started to use more metrics to determine their rankings. One of these measures is link relevance, which is the ratio of the subject of Page A to Page B when a link from the first links to the second. A well-designed and relevant link can increase the chances for page A or Page B rankings for queries that are relevant to their topic.
For example, a page on the best cafes in Paris will likely send a better relevance signal to Google when it links to a cafe’s website than when it connects to a site with pictures of baby pangolins.
A word anyway on the backlinks. If you ever have a say in an external link you have obtained, do not hesitate to suggest a different anchor to the author of the text in which the link to your site is found. This practice is often greeted with kindness; the author who wishes to “offer” you an external link is usually grateful for your work and does not seek to harm it.
3. Keyword Density of Anchor Text
With the update to its algorithm, Google began to take an even closer look at the keywords used in link anchoring. For example, if too many inbound links from a site contain the exact anchor text, it might look suspicious. Indeed, perhaps the links were not acquired naturally to artificially boost the ranking of this page on a specific request.
The internal links are good practice, but be careful to vary the anchors to connect your pages. If too many links to the same page use the exact anchor text, Google could detect spam behaviour (even if they are on your site).
This practice is also counterproductive. You can achieve better results by striving for various, more natural anchor phrases than the same keyword every time.
Anchor text can be a sensitive and touchy subject for SEO professionals, so challenging to know how (and when) to link to relevant content.
If Google often sends mixed signals and no one can clarify the gray areas, it is always better to have varied and balanced anchors.
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