For those readers who are not already aware what anchor text is it can be described as the visible part of a Hyperlink. By this I mean the part of a link that the user actually reads and clicks on, they are generally blue and underlined.
It is often the text of a link that helps the user decide whether or not they will be interested in the linked page and whether or not they will click on the link. Therefore anchor text as a rule should be descriptive of the page to which it leads.
Why Anchor Text Is Important
To understand the real importance of anchor text you first need to understand why it is important. Think about it, when you create a web page you have virtually full control over what appears on the page. You could fill the page keywords and key phrases and effectively give the impression that the page is about any topic you can think of. This does not however show one way or the other whether the page contains anything of any use or interest to a potential browser.
The anchor text is different firstly because you are limited to the number of words that can be realistically displayed on a link. Ten or so is probably a realistic maximum, most links will not contain more than ten word and the when they do the exessive words are more than likely discounted. Therefore due to the constraints on the anchor text the words themselves are considered to be and very strong representation of the contents of the linked page. This is true for both internal links and external links alike although the weighting will be greater for external links.
The second and aguably more significant reason why Search engines see anchor text as such a crucial factor in determining the content of a page is that generally you will have very little, or no control over the actual text that is used to link into your site. Left to grow naturally a website providing good content with a well presented appearance will, over time attract inbound links from other pages from around the net. The authors of these pages may have a very different opinion about what relevant and what irrelevant information you are providing and as such the anchor text they use may well reflect this. Also a page that is full of keyword but contains very little unique or useful information is not likely to be linked to at all, this helps search engines by effectivly weeding out poor quality pages.
You write a blog page titled Search Engine Optimization within the page you include a brief paragraph on the usage of anchor text. Over the following months the page attracts a lot of attention and you gain a few inbound links.
Let assume the following anchor text is used to link to the page.
- effective anchor text.
- link anchor text
- linking with anchor text
When the search engines finds these links not only will they increase your general pagerank of that page but they will actually effect the search terms your page will return for. The above anchor texts for example could quite easily get you page returning for queries like effective anchors or linking anchor text.
In fact it is possible to get listed and rank well for a keyphrase that does not even appear on your webpage using this approach. If you do find yourself ranking for terms that do not appear on the actual page this may be the reason. Also it may be a good idea to update the page or create a new page to meet the obvious demand for the particular topic.
How to control and optimize external anchor text
Well the short answer is that controlling anchor text is impossible unless your talking about a link exchange service or paid links. That is after all the main reason links are considered so important to search engines, they are uncontrolled by the webmaster and that is why they are so powerful.
The long answer is that although you may not be able to dictate anchor text, you can give it a push in the right direction. We must assume that anyone link to your page has at least read it, as such the title and header text is a good place to start user will be more inclined to link to you using anchor text similar to your title line.
Also keep your page topics fairly specific, a broader topic will inevitably lead people to take different things from the page and potentially link back using those topics.
Taking things a little further you may even like to provide people with your links ready made, there is still no guarantee that people will use them but it does add another element of control.
Please copy the following code to link to this page!
The above is a fairly primitive example of how you can provide webmasters with your chosen anchor text. As said there is still no guarantee that they will use it but this is a proven way to stear them in the right direction.
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