Relevant Anchor Text Matters

linkAnchor text is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. Properly selected anchor text tells search engines and visitors what the page is about before they land on it. The keywords contained in anchor text helps determine search engine ranking. When used wisely relevant anchor text boosts a site’s rankings in search engines.

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Search engines are designed to provide highly relevant search results and this is where properly selected keywords in anchor text comes into play.  Properly selected anchor text provides pertinent information describing the content of the page you’re linking to. Anchor text is weighted (ranked) highly in search engine algorithms when the linked text is relevant ie. pertinent to the landing page it’s linked to.

Not all links are created equally, and not all links serve the same purpose. Anchor text should be keywords carefully selected for their value and specifically suited to their purpose, rather than phrases like “click here“. If you use “click here” then, according to Google’s search algorithm or ranking formula, you are getting credit for the term “click here” and not for whatever keyword or phrase you are optimizing for.

A link dump is when the blogger is lazy and just pastes the link into their post such as http://lorelleteaches.com/2012/10/14/what-you-must-know-about-writing-on-the-web/ instead of the properly formed What You Must Know About Writing on the Web.

Nothing can make your blog look more amateurish than “click here” links and link dumps. Worse still, using incorrect anchor text can negatively affect your blog’s page ranking and positioning in the SERPs (search engine page results). Also note that using deceptive anchor text can characterize you as a spammer and your blog as a splog (spam blog).

Combine click here” links and link dumps with special character use in titles, tags and anchor text, and inappropriate heading tags use, and you have a blog that is stalled in infancy, rather than a site that’s growing and thriving.

In business blogs and professional blogs properly formed links and relevant anchor text are not optional; they are expected.

Relevant Anchor Text Matters

Here’s an example of a descriptive anchor text in a properly formed link Creating HTML Hyperlinks (Links) in WordPress.

linkAnchor text tip 1: Properly Formed Links

To maintain a professional appearance on your blog and to benefit from the best SEO practice select relevant anchor text and always create properly formed links.

The guide for creating links in posts and pages in WordPress.com blogs is found in the support document titled Links.  This is the general link model:
<a href="URL HERE">Relevant descriptive anchor text here</a>You can create links in either the Visual editor or the Text (HTML) editor.
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linkAnchor text tip 2: Do Use Relevant Keywords

When creating a link to one of your other pages on your own site, or on another site, include the keywords that you are optimizing for on the other page in anchor text.

linkAnchor text tip 3: Do Not Use Special Characters

Wherever possible, use the titles of the articles you are linking to as anchor text. Avoid Special Character Use in Titles, Tags and anchor text as some characters are reserved in HTML and using them in site and post titles, text or tags means browsers can mistake them for markup.

linkAnchor text tip 4: Use Heading Tags Appropriately

Search engine spiders read HTML and understand the relevance of heading tags. When heading tags are used appropriately search engines give more weight to text that is inside a heading tag. Using heading tags in blog posts and pages just to make some text smaller or larger undermines the excellent SEO built into WordPress.com themes.

linkAnchor text tip 5: Preserve and Improve Your Brand

In Branding on the Blog and Beyond the Blog we discussed that in terms of your blog, your brand is how your target audience perceives you and your blog content.

Either by intention or by default, branding starts during the design and strategy stage of creating a new blog. That’s when the blogger selects a URL, site title and tagline that reflect the intended message for the intended target audience. Branding is reflected in the keywords and blog description of the site and published on the introductory About page and/or Profile page that’s easily located by search engines.

In part your branding is reflected in the keywords used by potential followers to locate blogs like yours by using search engines. And one of the most important factors determining your blog’s search engine ranking is the keywords in the anchor text that other sites use to link to on your site and when describing your site. If your branding is effective, then the keywords will also reflect what makes your blog’s brand unique within your niche.

Consider these two examples of links:

Example1: Click here to visit my friend`s blog.

Example 2: To view a blog being kept by a skilled bicyclist, writer and photographer, who knows how to structure her posts well, and how to feature her earlier content, so it can be easily located and enjoyed, visit Cycle Write Blog: My words, visions & trivia along the way.

Always keep branding and relevant and descriptive anchor text in mind when you create a link. The best gift you can ever give another blogger when linking to their content or to their site is using anchor text that they optimize for. It’s a gift will keeps on giving as it helps define their brand and helps determine their site’s search engine ranking.

* This post has been updated with new information, rewritten and republished. It was originally published on May 31, 2008 as How to select and use anchor text effectively.

Related posts found in this blog:
9 Guides for Beginning Your New Blog
Targeted Blog Post Titles Draw Traffic
Writing effective blog headlines
Top 5 Site Title Tag Tips

51 thoughts on “Relevant Anchor Text Matters

  1. Pingback: The Importance of Links to Related Sites | one cool site

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  3. Wonderful, TT, definitely one of your best. I’ve lost track of all the “click here’s” I’ve seen over the years, and yes, I’ve been guilty of same myself. It used to be pure ignorance; these days when I suffer a lapse, it’s pure laziness.

    Also liked your point about amateurish mistakes hurting one’s brand. Nothing’s so irretrievable as credibility– that alone is a powerful argument for learning good blogging practices. Many thanks.

    • Hi Mark,
      We live, we learn, sometimes we conveniently forget what we learn and we blog on. I’m glad you concur that keeping the impact of our habits can our brand (ie. how people perceive us and our site) in mind is important. It’s not only important for business bloggers and professional bloggers; it’s important for any blogger who wants to be taken seriously.

  4. I didn’t know this, I thought the point of ‘click here’ was to help people who were new to the internet and unfamiliar with how hyperlinks worked, in other words to alert them to the fact that a darn link was there at all. I never used it to start with, figured out anchor text, then stopped doing it as my buddy bloggers were doing click here. A classic example of just because other people do it, doesn’t make it right, eh? If I had any energy I would go back through the hundreds of old posts and root out all the click here’s and the dead links and all the rest of the things that mark me as a resolute amateur :) x Joanna

    • Hi Joanna,

      A classic example of just because other people do it, doesn’t make it right, eh?

      Exactly and I think what you describe probably mirrors the experience of most of us. We were in the dark and it took time to see the light (lol I could not resist :D).

    • I teach my students and clients this: If you have to explain how to use your site or how to click a link, the site is broken.

      I’m serious. Students have found that people feel stupid when they read “click here,” and have a poor impression of your site.

      When the Internet and web were new, such instructions were important, but we all get what a link is and how to click it. Readability is key to all of this. A poorly formed link interrupts the writing, and using click here to read this in your sentences isn’t helpful, but click here for more information on the subject. :D

      As for old posts, here is my solution.

      1. Your most popular posts are the gateways to your site. Clean those up first.
      2. Web pages you link to consistently and repeatedly for reference, clean those up second.
      3. WordPress PAGES, your pseudo-static web pages, are third as they are the “important” timeless web pages on your site such as About, Contact, etc.
      4. Monitor your stats regularly. Look at the top 20 web pages on your site. If the number changes and a new post enters that list, edit and clean that up.

      You don’t have to do all of your old posts, but do the ones that get the most traffic.

      • Thank you for your advice Lorelle. Curiously I thought I had done it more than in fact I have when I had a look after leaving my original comment. I think I used to use it mainly in sidebar text boxes, where the links were not always very clear in the theme I was using at the time but I don’t use those these days either. I will change any I come across in due course. The only thing I would say, and it is not unique to you, is that the use of the word ‘we’ as in ‘we all get what a link is’ is an assumption. It still has to be learnt or taught or experienced. And there are still people in the world who are not part of the ‘we’ that uses the internet. kind regards, Joanna

  5. I did not understand the importance of anchor text in the beginning but thank you for the reminder and through your valuable information on “One Cool Site” I am continually learning. Thank you :)

  6. I was not aware that anchor text was so important, although I do try to do better than “click here” in most cases. I’ll definitely choose my words more carefully in the future. Thanks for another valuable tip.

  7. Wow! I had no idea! As always timethief, your advice is invaluable. I’m actually going to go through all my posts and change the wording, eliminate all the “click here(s).” Might take me a while :(

  8. I have always thought using proper wording rather than a highlighted link looked nicer and was easier to read, but I didn’t know they all had actual names. Link dumps look untidy. I can’t remember if I’ve ever used click here, but I certainly won’t be in the future. Thanks. I love reading your great advice and I learn something every time.

    How is your back now?

    • I agree with you. Properly formed links with relevant anchor text within the flow of the text not only look better, and are not only easier to read, but also boost a site’s rankings in search engines.

      It`s so good to read your blog compliment. I`m a technical writer. The writing style in this blog is informative. The challenge is to share valuable content in a way that readers can read, understand and use immediately.

      P.S. My back is good one day and then not good the next day.

      • It’s nice to know that I have been doing the right thing, even without know I was. I find your posts very informative and useful. Thanks!

        I hope your back improves soon. It’s so debilitating and the worst thing is it’s not like a broken arm that everyone sees. It’s a hidden pain so there’s often no sympathy either. Take care.

  9. Very helpful – again! I am certainly guilty of having such phrases as “you can see my other one here”. I hadn’t thought of using the other article’s heading as anchor text. Always glad to learn. Thanks for sharing your expertise :-)

    • That approach is fine in some cases where “here” has already been identified to your readers in the same post. However, using relevant anchor text is always the best way to go.

    • There is an art form to writing good anchor text. Even after all of these years, I still battle with the word to put into a link. How many, which ones, how to compel someone to click.

      Then I look at the examples of Wikipedia when I am really struggling. Their links are fabulous examples of how to link within a sentence and paragraph without distracting the reader. If someone knows what the word or phrase is about, they read on easily. If they don’t, they can open the link in a new tab (Right Click > Open in New Tab or CTRL/CMD +Left Click) and keep reading, checking out the resources later, still keeping the reading easy.

      You should rarely find a “here” or “click here” or vague statement leading to a link on Wikipedia.

  10. In my early days, I used link dumps because I didn’t know how to create a hyperlink with anchor text. I stopped when I learned how to use the link button. However, I am guilty of occasionally using ubiquitous terms such as click here or previous post as anchor text, but now I won’t do this anymore. Thanks for this very useful post.

  11. This is one of your best posts yet I’ve read wow I use the click here and used headers to highlight but I didn’t know. Now I do thanks to you! I will write properly when not on my phone but that was fab thank you x

    • Hi Justine,
      It’s always great to hear from you. Almost everyone is doing the click here. It’s heartbreaking to see one blogging friend set out to gift another blogging friend with a link, and see they have devalued it because they used click here instead of relevant descriptive anchor text the friend is optimizing for.

      The abuse of heading tags use is also one that makes me gnash my teeth. Whenever I see a blog wherein the blogger has made multiple color changes to fonts in a post and misused heading tags in to increase or decrease font size it makes me want to scream. Any blogger who wants to be taken seriously needs to get rid of those bad habits ASAP.

      • I agree but you know trying to wade through WP to find out all these things is impossible and also if you don’t know you are doing it wrong you wouldn’t know to look it up, which is why your blog is great. You are giving us I wouldn’t say bite size, slightly large but manageable pieces of info to improve our blogs and highlighting common mistakes.

        I posted today and was really really conscious of it, hopefully did it better this time lol so eternally grateful :-D

      • Excellent point on “any blogger who wants to be taken seriously.”

        Your words on the virtual published page are artwork in and of themselves. The use of shorter, readable paragraphs, or breaking up paragraphs into smaller chunks for emphasis, the proper use of links, headings, lists, and images flowing through the page, all add to the readability as well as the visual design of our words.

        Research has shown that all of the urban legends about how many words are the best length for a web article are untrue. It is not 200, 300, 400, or 500 words. The truth is that people will read an article on the web no matter how long it is as long as it visually pulls them through to the end, and the writing makes them want to read through to the end. You win on both counts, you are a pro blogger.

        • Hi Lorelle,
          Thank you so much for your kind words. {HUG} I treasure them so much that I want to frame them because I know I have my ducks in a row when you say so.

    • I’m with timethief on the abuse of headings. Makes me bonkers, as does messing with fonts, bold abuse, and color horrors – all interfering with the process of READING.

      Since this is on the topic of HTML Anchor text, it’s important to note that you should not use a link inside of heading tags. It isn’t the end of the world, but it can mess up the design and often cause people to miss the link as it isn’t web standard. A standard is something that everyone expects and uses.

      • very true its a learning curve so much to learn to, i am always grateful that timethief picks on pertinent topics in bite size pieces for me to learn from, this one a bit of a corker, i can change all my old posts but will endeavor to improve my new ones :-)

  12. I LOVE YOUR BLOG! Okay, got that out of my system. But seriously, I learn something every single posting. I starting reverting to a lead-in descriptive sentence announcing the link and then making the actual link say “click here” because I had a lot of older people mention to me that they never knew to click something before. Granted, these are people who don’t go on the computer much (my great aunts and all their friends, etc.) but I wanted to accommodate them and reward them for reading me by making it easier. I didn’t realize I was making things more difficult for myself in the process. Thank you!

    • Oh stop it with love (never!). lol:D

      The gray hair is not fake. I am an older person in the rocking demographic of silver surfers who know how to surf online and who have what it takes to figure things out without instructions. Please do not create a blog based on patronizing the lamers who use ageism as a cop out. It does not take a degree in rocket science to know one has to click a post title or read more [...] link.

      Yes it’s important to telegraph your call to action to your readers but when gifting another blogger with a link it ought to be done in a manner that provides them the maximum SEO benefit.

      Example 1: Below is an effective use of relevant anchor text that is helpful to both the visitors I’m sending and to search engines and the blogger I want to send link love to:

      For comedy at it’s best forget all the rest and visit Little Miss Menopause’s blog Once Upon Your Prime. . . Live Happily Ever LAUGHTER!

      Eaxmple 2: Now compare Example 1 to this lame one below:

      Click here to visit Little Miss Menopauses’s blog.

      • okay, that’s definitely a stark contrast and makes your point perfectly. What I was doing was giving the nice lead-in like you did in example # 1 (thank you for that, btw!!) but then combining that with the “Click Here” for the actual link. Just as lame as example #2, I’m sure. But some of my readers are close to ninety and I was feeling charitable, before I knew the SEO price I was paying.
        Now however, after another valuable lesson from One Cool Site, they can just navigate the learning curve like everyone else! After all, 90 is the new 50 online expert. BTW, your hair is a shiny stand-out – – every time I see you, I wanna nickname you Sterling. Gorgeousity.

      • My Dad was complaining to me just the other day that he was reading things online that said he could see another link but he didn’t know how to get to it. When I explained links to him he was amazed. He’s always learning new things about his computer.

  13. Oh gosh, thanks for the information! I think I have been very very incorrect with my linking. Hopefully not lazy, just not knowledgeable, but I will be now thanks to you! I’ll have to go back through my posts and see where I can correct. Love the new format of your blog by the way, it looks nice!

    • You nailed it Robin. The issue stems for lack of knowledge and repeating a bad habit that one does not know is a bad habit over and over until it becomes ingrained.

      P.S. Thanks for the compliment on the theme change.

  14. Thank you so much for all this information I had no idea about most of it. Sadly my blog has quite a few ‘click here’ links so from now on I will insert links in a professional fashion.

    • Hi there,
      I think most bloggers do have an over abundance of “click here” links simply because they do not know what I posted above.

      There’s always room for blog improvement. If you make an appointment with yourself to spend just 1/2 hour every week on improving your blogging practices it will be reflected in your blog’s pagerank and positioning in the SERPs.

  15. Good tips TT. I’m always wondering why the links I provide aren’t being clicked on, despite the fact that they’ve been included to enhance the reader’s understanding of the topic…

    • Hi Mak,
      I hope my tips will help you. I accepted two challenges when creating this post. The first was to update and rewrite an outdated 6 year old post to make it fresh and relevant in today’s context. The second was to create a post that wasn’t a rant full of copy and paste examples that if posted here would have embarrassed other bloggers.

  16. Thanks for updating and posting this article. I realize now that I have fallen into the “Click here” habit for no other reason than a lack of understanding the basics of Anchor Text. With your helpful information I shall go forth and form better links.

    • Hi Allan,
      You are so right about “click this” being used primarily by those who do not understand the importance of anchor text in the SEO context.

      We all want to improve and promote our content and our site’s ability to attract more organic (unpaid) traffic. That’s why it’s sad to see long standing blogs full of “click this” links and link dumps.

      What’s truly sad is when a blogger wants to link to a friend’s post or site and uses “click this” rather than relevant anchor text that describes their friend’s brand and/or post content.

      I’m so happy to hear your feedback as it means that what I publish does make positive difference in the blogging habits of other bloggers.

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