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The anchor link or the anchor text is the portion of text on which a link to another page is inserted. By clicking on this anchor link, you will be redirected to a page, either on your own site, or external.
The keywords chosen for this anchor link are selected according to the theme of the page to which they redirect Internet users and search engines. This guarantees the coherence of your content and the improvement of the customer experience.
Be careful, these anchor texts must not be chosen at random, otherwise you may incur the wrath of Google Penguin and penalise your natural SEO. There is a whole set of criteria to keep in mind and to respect when selecting your link anchors in order to use them to optimise your website.
Role of anchor links in SEO
Create an internal link for your site
Link anchors allow you to create and optimise your internal linkage. In other words, by inserting hyperlinks on anchors selected beforehand in your content, you can link your pages together. This will allow you to organise your pages according to a clear and relevant tree structure, which will appear as such to the search engines. They will then be better able to understand the architecture of your site, and thus index your pages.
Moreover, anchor text is very important for your natural SEO, because it is their quality that will push spiders to explore some of your pages or not. If a spider judges your anchor to be of good quality, then it will crawl the page to which the hypertext link inserted in your anchor points. On the other hand, a poorly chosen anchor will dissuade the same spider from exploring the linked page.
Improve your natural SEO
Improving your natural SEO involves obtaining quality links on sites with good SEO metrics. But the quality of a link, contrary to what you might think, depends not only on the popularity of the site on which it is found, but also on the quality of the anchor link chosen.
A quality anchor is, in short, a unique and relevant anchor. It is the match between the keywords chosen for your anchor text and the subject matter of the page to which the anchor links that will enable you to send positive signals to the search engine. From there, you will benefit from an improvement in your natural SEO.
The different types of anchors and the associated risks
The exact anchor
An exact anchor is an anchor composed of the keyword that corresponds exactly to the main keyword of the content it links to. For example, the anchor “insulate your roof”, which refers to an article explaining why and how to insulate your roof, is an anchor that is described as exact.
This type of anchor makes it clear to the user and to the search engine what the article is about that your anchor points to. An exact match anchor is therefore very effective in terms of SEO. On the other hand, there is a high risk of being penalised by Google Penguin, as the visibility of this type of anchor may betray your netlinking strategy.
The anchor with partial match
A partial match anchor is an anchor consisting of the main keyword of the content it links to, with additional words added. Let’s take the same example as for the exact anchor. An anchor with a partial match that links to content on the subject of why and how to insulate your roof would be of the type “tips for insulating your roof”.
This type of anchor is quite advantageous. It allows you to integrate your link anchor naturally into your content, while clearly indicating the topic of the page to which it redirects. This explains the high SEO effectiveness of this type of anchor, which only moderately exposes you to the risk of a Google penalty.
The branded anchor
The branded anchor, as the name suggests, is an anchor that uses your brand name directly. Here, a branded anchor would be to link to the home page of our site on the keyword “Keyweo”.
If your brand is relatively popular, then this type of anchor will allow the user, and Google, to know directly the theme of the page it links to. For example, if your link anchor is “Zara”, chances are the article it links to is about fashion.
This type of anchor is highly valued by search engines, which puts you at very low risk of being penalised by Google. On the contrary, your site may be enhanced by Google. However, its SEO effectiveness is moderate, as it depends on the popularity of your brand.
The generic anchor
The generic anchor is an anchor that can be applied to any page of any topic. They are used subtly to divert the reader’s attention. Here are some examples of generic anchors:
- Click here to view
- This site
- More details
- More information
This type of anchor works in the same way as a call to action: it encourages the reader to click on a link and be redirected to another page. However, there is a drawback: such an anchor does not tell the search engines what the page is about. It is therefore of low SEO effectiveness, although also of low penalty risk.
The generic anchor
This type of anchor is simply a URL inserted as it is in a piece of content, without being placed on an anchor.
Be careful, to use this type of anchor, it is better that your URL is short and readable so that the theme of the page to which it refers is clearly understandable for an average user, as well as for Google. Its SEO effectiveness remains low, as does the risk of a penalty.
Sometimes you can turn an image into an HTML button. To do this, you simply insert your URL into the alt attribute of an image so that clicking on the image will redirect you to the target page. In this case, your anchor text is in the alt tag of your image.
The SEO effectiveness of such an anchor is low, but it exposes you very little to the risk of penalties.
How to optimise your anchor links?
Analysis of your link profile
Conducting an audit of your link profile is essential. Indeed, it will allow you to determine the nature of the hyperlinks that link your pages together, and participate in building your domain authority. Thanks to this audit, you will be able to detect links that Google considers bad, and thus remove them to avoid sanctions from Google.
By determining and analysing your link profile, you will be able to see clearly in your netlinking strategy, and thus choose your future link anchors according to those already used.
Establishing a real analysis of the strategic keywords of your market is essential to select the anchors with exact and most relevant part matches. Following this study, you must select the most strategic keywords possible, i.e. with a keyword difficulty that is not too high, but that generates sufficiently high traffic to be interesting.
Vary the anchor links chosen
There is a reason why there are many different types of anchors. Indeed, it is essential, in order not to expose your netlinking strategy in the eyes of Google, that you vary your chosen anchor types. So, make sure you alternate between exact match anchors, partial match anchors, mixed with branded anchors, etc.
Respect certain proportions in terms of anchor links
There is no one-size-fits-all scheme that tells you exactly how much to use which type of link anchor. Indeed, Google is constantly updating its algorithms, and you should adapt your strategy regarding the selection of your link anchors. However, there are some tips that remain unwavering. You should be careful not to use only exact anchors, although this may be tempting. Instead, you should nestle them in between generic and branded anchors to make your netlinking strategy look natural.
Mistakes to avoid when selecting your anchor links
Only use one type of anchor link
As mentioned above, a common mistake, but one that is very detrimental to your natural SEO, is to use only one, or two, types of link anchors, namely exact and partial match anchors.
You should therefore take care to vary the anchors you use, which you will be able to do thanks to the audit of your link profile carried out beforehand. In addition, using varied link anchors is rather valued by Google.
Only use over-optimised anchors
Using only over-optimised anchors, i.e. anchors with exact matches, spoils the naturalness of a netlinking strategy. Google will then have no trouble determining the strategy in place, and will therefore penalise you by lowering your ranking in the SERP, as well as your Trust Flow.
Using irrelevant anchors
The relevance of your chosen anchors is essential. They provide information to both search engines and users. Your anchors should therefore be clear and informative. In addition, including these anchors in a well-written and relevant text will help you avoid appearing as spam in the eyes of Google. This is because the search engine does not only take into account the chosen anchor, but also the surrounding text.
Using the same anchor several times
While it is important to vary the types of anchors you choose, it is also important to simply vary the text of your anchors. You cannot place all your external links on one anchor. This will appear suspicious to Google and you will be penalised.
Directing Google to suspicious sites
Finally, you should be careful not to link to or place your links on dubious sites. Indeed, if you do so, Google risks losing confidence in you and the content you offer. The search engine will then penalise you by lowering your ranking in the SERP, as well as your Trust Flow.
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