We're getting back to basic SEO concepts today with a discussion of Anchor Text.
Anchor text is also known as link text, link label, and even link title depending on which SEO professional you are talking to. In our office we commonly flip flop between "anchor text" and "link text" depending on the situation. All 4 phrases are common enough, and can be confusing, so hopefully this Golden Nugget will help.
Hyperlinks, or links, connect all the pages of the web together. Sometimes you click on an image hyperlink, and sometimes you click on a text hyperlink. When word (text) are hyperlinks, many times they will appear as blue and underlined.
It's those blue and underlined words that are the Anchor Text, and they are very important for SEO.
When the internet was in its infancy many people used the words "click here" to tell users to jump from the current page they were on to the next page of interest. For example you might see linking like this: "For more information about this ring [click here]," and the words "click here" would be the hyperlink.
Search engines use the anchor text to help rank the pages they link to, in that it's assumed the linked words somehow describe the page they link to.
We'd like to show you our best [engagement rings].
The words "engagement rings" are shown as the anchor text and that would link to a page dedicated to engagement rings.
The search engines will count the number of times the anchor text "engagement rings" is use to link to that page. The higher the count, the more important that page will be for SERP ranking.
Link Building is the SEO process of creating links from other pages to a single target page. If we want to boost the rankings of the example engagement ring page we could create 100 links to that page using the anchor text "engagement rings". That's what Link Building is all about.
Many people believe that link building with appropriate anchor text can only be done from other websites to your jewelry site. This is not true; you can also build links from your own pages inside your site to another page inside your site. This is known as Internal Linking, and it's an easy way to control your link building strategies.
Now think about Facebook and Twitter for a moment, and how their linking works.
When you share a link on Twitter the link is automatically turned into some shortened URL. The URL is visible in the Tweet, but they don't allow for anchor text. Twitter doesn't use anchor text, but the links still count a little towards ranking.
When you share a link on Facebook it will automatically pull the page title and a snippet of text from the shared page. The page title becomes the Facebook anchor text.
As a final note about Anchor Text, we'd like to mention changes Google made in March 2012 and show you this quote:
"Tweaks to handling of anchor text. [launch codename "PC"] This month we turned off a classifier related to anchor text (the visible text appearing in links). Our experimental data suggested that other methods of anchor processing had greater success, so turning off this component made our scoring cleaner and more robust."
We're pretty surprised that several other SEO professionals have misinterpreted this Google announcement. This announcement says that they improved their processing of anchor text, and they are cleaning up how some people are gaming the system. As of the writing of this Nugget the Wikipedia page for Anchor Text incorrectly states "would no longer be an important element of their ranking metrics."
It just goes to show you that not even Wikipedia can be trusted.