Learn SEO Basics: Anchor Text of Inbound Links


Anchor text for inbound links is one of the most important factors in search engine optimization. According to SEOmoz’ search engine ranking factors (v2), anchor text is the 2nd most important positive factor.

“The text people use to link to you is one of the most important factors — often the most important factor — for how you will rank in Google.” (Danny Sullivan, Mar 15, 2007)

Now that I have your attention, let’s learn about anchor text, and how to benefit from this very important factor.

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What is Anchor Text?

Anchor text is the visible text of a link. For example, if I was going to link to a friend’s blog, I might use his name for the anchor text.

Check out Todd Malicoat’s blog.

If I wanted to make the most out of my link for Todd, I would use a nice keyword for my anchor text, for example:

Check out Todd Malicoat’s blog on SEO Consulting.

Todd ranks pretty well already for SEO consulting. If you check the anchor text for his backlinks, he has tons of links for “SEO Consultant” and “SEO Consulting”. If you do a search in Google for “SEO Consultant”, notice how the words “SEO Consulting” get highlighted as well. The words are very related and mean about the same thing, and so Todd is going to rank well for both of those terms. Obviously the anchor text of the link is not the SOLE reason Todd ranks well, but it is a major reason.

The Power of Anchor Text

Many examples show the power of anchor text, but here is one simple one:


Skip the wikipedia result and look at the Dell result. If you view Dell’s homepage you don’t see the word “computer” anywhere. When you view the source you can find the word “computer” just one time, in the meta tag for keywords. Obviously that doesn’t have the power to get it to that kind of ranking. If you check the anchor text of its backlinks you’ll notice a lot of their backlinks use the text “Dell Computers” or something with the word “computer” in it.

How do I use Anchor Text to benefit my SEO?

Any link building efforts should start with keyword analysis, identifying the keywords you want to rank better for. There are several tools for keyword research, including our Keyword Finder tool in SoloSEO that lets you find keywords from Overture, WordTracker, and Google Adwords all at once and to compare the results side by side.

Link building comes in many forms. Whether you’re requesting links from other sites, submitting to directories, or buying links, it is important to make the most out of your link by choosing the right anchor text. If you are requesting links from others, have the code for your link all ready to go, easy for them to insert into their webpage.

Keep in mind that having all of your anchor text the exact same from all your links may not be the best approach. Try mixing it up by adding a word, changing from singular to plural, or stemming a word differently. Just like above, Google considers “Consulting” and “Consultant” to be very related, enough that they would highlight the other word even though it doesn’t match your search term.

Some other articles on the topic

How to Link to Your Friends, by Todd Malicoat

The Power of Anchor Text, by John Chow (more like Google Bombing, but the Googlebombing algorithm hasn’t hurt him yet)

Aaron Wall’s post about the depreciation of anchor text

V7N discusses link vs content and the ending is a great quote (spoiler alert? hehe):

PageRank does matter. In fact, anchor text and inbound links is 95% of effective search engine optimization. Anyone who tells you otherwise does not practice real search engine optimization.

Subscribe to our RSS feed for my upcoming follow-up post about advanced tips for ways to control anchor text of inbound links, and ways to get more of them.

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