Those of you who are familiar with SEO will doubtless be familiar with the concept of anchor text and are probably aware that anchor text is a powerful ranking factor but may not be aware of the details of just how it works. This article will attempt to provide more information on this topic.
What is Anchor Text?
Anchor text is the text which is hyperlinked when you use text links to another page as shown in this example: “Please see our site rankings to understand better how our search engine optimization capabilities can help you to rank better.”
In this example, the words “site rankings” and “search engine optimization” are hyperlinked to specific URLs. The words within the hyperlink, “site rankings” and “search engine optimization”, are known as the anchor text.
In finding ways to evaluate the relevancy of web pages some search engines (notably Google) use anchor text links pointing to the page as an indicator of the subject matter of the page that it links to. For example, the text “search engine optimization” above indicates to readers that they can expect to see content pertaining to Search Engine Optimization if they visit the linked page and so Google will credit the text of links pointing to pages as relevant pointers to that page.
The use of links as a ranking factor has been around for some time but Google's PageRank implementation, first used by Google in 1998 in its search engine algorithm is focused on the idea that any links to a page could be considered as “votes” for that page and so the more links to the page the higher it should be ranked. But PageRank does not consider the relevancy of the link, and in fact, is really only a small part of the Google algorithm at this time.
In addition to PageRank Google has always considered the words in the page title and anchor text links as special relevancy indicators and Google's ranking algorithm has always placed special emphasis on anchor text and page titles, even going so far as to create a sort of mini index which contains only words and phrases taken from page titles and anchor text links pointing at the page, and uses the data from this index first and in preference to the data in the main index. Other search engines have followed suit in one way or another.
Please note that the keywords in the anchor text enhance the relevance of the target page pertaining to the keywords used. While the relevance of the page containing the anchor text is also enhanced to some degree (because of relevant keywords appearing on that page), the real benefit is to the target page URL.
Use this knowledge to build the relevance of each page of your site, through optimized anchor text containing important keywords, relevant to the theme of such pages, from other pages of your site.
Search Engine Algorithms like Anchor Text
The inclusion of important keywords in the anchor text can make a big difference in the final ranking of your site pages. All search engines that matter, give significant weight to the anchor text on your pages.
While the weight that search engines place on anchor text links can vary from time to time anchor text is, in fact, a major ranking factor in all important search engines.
It is interesting to note that anchor text from internal page links, is considered in much the same way as external links, but with perhaps less ranking power. One of the major advantages of internal links is that they are totally under your control and thus should not be neglected in your ranking strategy.
How to Optimize Anchor Text Within Your Site
There are two major methods of using internal anchor text links, putting hypertexts links in your page text and using them in your menu system.
Anchor text optimization within the text of your page is probably given more weight than links from menu systems as Google tends to look at words in the vicinity of the anchor text when weighing it,
When linking to internal pages from within your page text, the text should read well and be in context with the rest of the page and paragraph such as:
In order to gain higher rankings for your on-page search engine optimization you should write a paragraph about internal anchor text links and link relevant text to appropriate pages within your site, It not only looks much better than saying something like:
If you want to know more about search engine optimization click here.
Whatever you do make sure that your on-page text reads well and delivers your message coherently. Do not force unnatural links into your sentences.
Optimizing the Anchor Text of Menu Links
The use of dynamic menus provides not only a way for your users and search engines to find all the pages of your site, but they also give you the opportunity to place many internal links within your site without detracting from the message you are delivering.
You must ensure that your dynamic links are crawlable in order for them to be of use to the search engine spiders. In order to see if a menu system is crawlable, I recommend the use of one of the simulating spiders. Just point the spider at the page with the menu you want to verify and the spider should report back all the links in the menu system, if not it's not worthwhile using.