What is Anchor Text?


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Welcome! — In this article, we’re going to answer the question “what is anchor text.”

If you’ve spent any time looking into SEO, you’ve probably come across this term. 

However, like a lot of SEO terms, it’s kinda hard to figure out what it actually means. Especially if you don’t know anything about SEO. I mean, does it have something to do with boats? Maybe it has something to do with the sailing industry? 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really have anything to do with any of those things! 

However, it’s an important concept you need to appreciate no matter what niche you’re in. And no matter what kind of SEO tactic you’re gonna use. 

After all, if you don’t understand what anchor text is, and if you ignore the ‘rules’ surrounding the use of it, your SEO campaigns will likely fail. You might even end up hurting your rankings!

Don’t worry though, because this article will explain what it is. And we’ll also touch on the eight different types of anchor text you need to be aware of (#5 is a good example of one that many people tend to ignore). 

We will also cover some of the rules you need to focus on when it comes to it. As well as what can happen if you don’t follow certain rules. (In fact, one of the sections in this article looks at a website that experienced a huge drop in traffic. Practically overnight, because it didn’t do things the right way!). 

Near the end of this article, we will also take a look at what the future holds in regard to anchor text and its impact on SEO. 

So, stick around, and make sure you read all the way to the end so that you can get up to speed.

What Is Anchor Text?

So… What exactly is anchor text? 

Well, it is just the text that is used to represent a link.

So, if you look at this graphic, you’ll see that the bit on the left, is the actual webpage people will be taken to when they click on a link. 


However, the bit on the right represents the anchor text. This is what people will actually see when they’re looking at a link on a webpage. 

For the most part, the anchor text can be whatever you want it to be. 

For instance, even though the link above points to a page about a ‘tiny dancing horse’. The person creating the link could make it so that the anchor text reads ‘tiny dancing dog,’. Or even something completely random like ‘small red car.’  

Of course, no matter what the anchor text actually is, the person will still be taken to the same page, when they click the link. 

Because people can use whatever they like, this can sometimes lead to some very creative anchor text, and if you’ve ever seen any weird/cool examples, let us know in the comments! 

Why Is It Important in SEO?

It is important in SEO because it helps Google figure out what a certain webpage is about. 

Now, above we mentioned that someone could technically use a really random phrase as their anchor text. 

However, in most cases, people don’t really do this. They tend to use a phrase or some kind of wording that is relevant to the page they’re actually linking to.

It is this very fact that allows Google to use it to figure out what a certain page/website is about.

Of course, once people learn this, many inevitably go overboard and focus on one specific kind of anchor text. 

This then results in a penalty which lowers their rankings. Because of this, we’re going to look at how you can stay on the safe side of things when using anchor text to improve your rankings!)

Different Types of Anchor Text

As mentioned, people can use all sorts of variations when they’re creating anchor text for their links. 

However, most it falls into the following eight categories: 

Let’s quickly go through each variation to help you understand the difference between all of these different types!

#1. Exact Match Anchor Text

Exact match anchor text is anchor text that matches the precise keyword you’d like a certain page to rank for. 

For instance, if you sell bookshelves, you might want to rank for the keyword ‘bookshelves.’ If that’s the case, an exact match link to your website might be something as simple as ‘bookshelves.’ 

This kind of anchor text can be very powerful. Because it can help you rank for the term you’re using in the actual anchor text. 

However, if you use this kind of anchor text too much, you might be penalized by Google. In fact, there was a famous Google algorithm update known as the “Penguin update,” which penalized websites that had too many ‘exact match’ links. 

Later on, we will touch on why this update was important and the impact it had.  

But, for now, you just need to appreciate that you shouldn’t focus too much on these kinds of links, no matter how powerful they are. 

#2. Partial Match Anchor Text

Partial match anchor text is a link that contains the keyword you want to rank for, alongside another related keyword/phrase. 

This kind of keyword is often used in a paragraph when someone is trying to describe something.

For instance, if we take the bookshelf example from earlier, a partial match keyword might be something like ‘brown bookshelf’ or ‘how to choose the right bookshelf.’ 

“Related keyword” anchor text is anchor text that is related to your niche/business but doesn’t really focus on any of the keywords you’re trying to target. 

So, if we take the bookshelf example from earlier. A good example of a related keyword might be something like ‘how to choose the best office furniture.’ 

This page might then link to an article on my website that talks about furnishing an office, and there might be a section dedicated to bookshelves.

#4. Branded Anchor Text

Branded anchor text is anchor text that uses the brand name of a website/business. 

For example, if our bookshelf store from earlier is called ‘world’s best bookshelves’. A branded anchor link would essentially just be the text — ‘world’s best bookshelves.’

Here’s a good example of some branded anchor text that we managed to get for a client, after securing a link for them on forbes.com


If you’d like to learn how to get links like this, you should check out this video.

If you go to juliangoldie.com, you can also book a free consulting call with us. And we’ll go over how you can build these kinds of HARO links to your site.      

#5. Branded “Plus Keyword” Anchor Text

This kind of anchor text includes the brand name of a business alongside a relevant keyword. 

So, if our business is called ‘world’s best bookshelves,’. A “branded plus keyword” link might be something like ‘buy bookshelves at world’s best bookshelves.’

#6. Naked Anchor Text

This kind of anchor text sounds a little crazy, but I promise this article is still ‘safe for work!’ 

Naked anchor text is basically just anchor text that showcases the actual link, without any kind of editing. 

So, you know the bit you type into your browser whenever you want to go to a certain website? — That’s basically what a naked anchor text link looks like. 

If we take our bookshelf store example from earlier. A naked anchor text link for this business might be something like www.worldsbestbookshelves.com. 

#7. Generic Anchor Text

Generic anchor text links are links that contain random phrases. 

A lot of the time, these phrases are often a call to action. Such as ‘click here’ or even something like ‘visit this site to learn more.’

#8. Image Anchor Text

Finally, there’s also ‘image anchor text.’ 

This is essentially just a ‘linked’ image that people can click on. So, if someone clicks on this image, it will take them to a certain webpage. 

Are there any rules you need to follow?

Google will keep a close eye on your backlink profile and they will tend to analyze the anchor text you’re using. 

If it skews too much in one direction, meaning if there’s an overabundance of one type of anchor text, it might trigger some red flags. Google might then penalize your website, and so you could lose rankings. 

Earlier we touched on a big Google update that focused a lot on anchor text. This update was called Penguin. (Which is ironic, because it’s kind of a happy-sounding name for what was a pretty horrifying update for many people!).

After all, when Penguin hit, a lot of people logged into their Google Analytics accounts and saw something like this chart — pretty terrifying!


Most of the websites that experienced a drop in traffic because of this update, experienced bad results because they had a lot of exact match anchors.  

This update, or at least the nature of this update, is still a core part of the latest algorithm that Google uses to rank websites. 

Because of all this, you should just try to vary your anchor text as much as possible. This means that your backlink profile should make use of all the different categories we touched upon earlier. 

Now, there isn’t really an exact ratio you want to focus on when it comes to its variations. 

But, as long as you focus on building links naturally, you should automatically end up with backlinks that use several different “types” of anchor text. 

Of course, if you are an SEO pro, you might have some thoughts on what counts as a good ratio when it comes to using different kinds of anchor text. If that’s the case, let us know in the comments, because I’d love to hear your point of view on this topic. 

On the other hand, if you’re relatively new to this topic, and you’d like some advice on how you can build links naturally, consider booking a free call with us at juliangoldie.com. We will be happy to help you develop a solid plan that is tailored specifically to your site!

Will Anchor Text Be Important in the Future?

As mentioned, anchor text is one of those things that is often manipulated by a lot of people so that they can achieve high rankings very quickly. 

Google is always fighting against this pressure. And earlier, we spoke about the Penguin update, and how it was helping Google prevent this kind of thing. 

However, SEO is a bit of an arms race. And people are always coming up with clever ways to get around the rules. Because of this, Google is constantly looking at methods that will help them rack down on this issue. This is so that people can’t game the rankings too much. 

One such method Google is considering is focusing on the text that actually surrounds the anchor text. 

This point of view is based on a patent filing by Google. 


Now granted, this patent filing is a bit of a complicated read. But, it essentially says that it will focus on something called the ‘anchor tag’ and, in simple terms, this is just the text that surrounds a link. 

So, if a link is in a paragraph, Google might look at the words in the paragraph alongside the actual anchor text to figure out what a certain page is about. 

It is because of this that you should try to secure links on relevant web pages as much as you can. If you do this, your links will be around relevant keywords, almost by default. 

This could then mean that a link has a much stronger impact on your rankings. Even if it doesn’t use any kind of exact match anchor text or something that contains a relevant keyword. 

If you’d like some advice on how you can land “natural links” check out this video.

If you’d like someone to actually walk you through the process of how you can secure natural links for your specific site. Book a free consultation call with us at juliangoldie.com

Also, if you have some of your own awesome methods when it comes to securing natural links. Please mention your tips in the comments, I’d love to exchange notes with you!


So, you should now have a decent understanding of what anchor text is and why is it important. You might want to read this Backlinks for Beginners guide next.

You should also understand how you should use it the right way so that you don’t get into any trouble with Google. 

If you have any thoughts or even any suggestions/ideas on what we covered, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. 

Julian Goldie

Julian Goldie

Hey, I'm Julian Goldie! I'm an SEO link builder and founder of Goldie Agency. My mission is to help website owners like you grow your business with SEO!


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