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What is Anchor Text?

anchor-textWhen you dig into the world of writing for the web, you’ll likely come across the term “anchor text”.  What does it mean?

In short, it’s the text that is used when linking somewhere.  For example, if I check out this site about the Braves the words “check out this site about the Braves” (which are linked to the Atlanta Braves website) would be considered the anchor text.

Why does this matter?

Anchor text is important because Google uses those words to help determine what the page you’re linking to is about.  For example, if I said that Ali was an “excellent graphic designer” and linked that text to her blog, Google would then begin to think that her blog is a good result when people search for “excellent graphic designer”.  Granted, that is a competitive phrase and there are hundreds of other signals that Google considers, but that’d be a good start.

A good example of this is the “miserable failure” example from nearly a decade ago.  A bunch of bloggers who weren’t fans of President Bush all linked to his site using the words “miserable failure”.  As a result, when you searched for that phrase in Google the result was Bush!  This technique, known as Google bombing, is no longer quite that effective.  Among other tweaks, Google now can detect overuse of a single phrase like that, and also prefers to see those words on the actual landing page as well.  However, the concept still holds true today.

Only the first one counts

An interesting point about anchor is that Google only looks at the first instance of any link on a given page.  For example, I could link to our Website Design page using all kinds of juicy anchor text like: awesome website design, atlanta website designers and creative web design, but Google would ignore those.  Why?  Because we already have a link to that page in our navigation bar in the drop-down.  Google will still calculate those other three links when using their PageRank scoring and other areas, but the anchor text is completely ignored.

Don’t “click here”

That said, you still want to have nice-looking anchor text for your links.  If nothing else, it simply looks better to say “Learn more about our website design” than it does to say “To learn about our website design, click here“.  The phrase “click here” is way overused on websites.  As long as you have proper design so that the links are easily identified as links (colored or underlined, etc), the extra text is unnecessary.

Even if your anchor text may not count in a particular situation, it’s always wise to use quality text to help people really understand where a link will take them.  If you’re guilty of overusing “click here”, take some time right now and clean up that text.

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Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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