The anchor text or link text is the clickable text located in a hyperlink. The words which are contained in the hypertext play an important role in determining the ranking that the page will achieve from the search engines. This has been exploited for building page ranks in classical SEO. However, the behemoth that Google is, it has become synonymous with the term ‘search engine’. And so, with the latest ‘Penguin’ update of Google in April 2012, the way to use anchor texts for best SEO practices has to be changed. Here are some ways and means to ensure anchor text optimization in 2012.
Variation is very important if you are building links yourself through directories, by contacting webmasters or via guest blogging. There is a tendency to use the same anchor texts over and over again. The latest update makes Google consider these as ‘duplicate’ or in the worst case scenario, as ‘unnatural links’. Variation does not mean writing everything anew which is very difficult. But when it comes to the anchor text, one can utilize synonyms, plural or singular forms of the same word and modifiers for the keywords. Combining keywords or linking to a single URL with different anchor texts would also be best-practices strategy. Though there is a debate on the usefulness of such variation, one can be sure that it will at least prevent hurt to your site.
Though these have become rare nowadays, building or allowing others to build natural links will be helpful. A natural link is one that has not been optimized. In this, you do not ‘instruct’ anyone on how to link to your site. Thus, they come up with their own creative ways to link to your site. This may be as straightforward as the term, ‘click here’ or as mistaken as a misspelling. It is important to ensure that the text around these natural links are relevant for they will be used by the search engine to determine context or the anchor text.
The alt attributes of an image used by a link usually becomes the anchor text. If there are no alt attributes, Google and some other engines make use of the page titles and the surrounding texts as anchor texts. Here, the surrounding text will also act as context determiners for the search engine.
Branding and other tips
According to Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, branding is one of the most important signals for ranking. It may not be easy to become a brand overnight but working towards creating a personal brand will pay off in separating one’s work from the cesspool of information that the internet is. That apart, including the anchor text in the title tag and URL path will also help in boosting page rank on Google.
While efforts can be made to adopt the latest best SEO practices, one should never forget that the basic necessity for success is good quality content. Quality always rules and thrives irrespective of the time and best-practices adopted. Though quality is often considered as a necessity, it still acts as a differentiator. This only shows the scope of quality improvement that is possible to ensure that the anchor texts become most effective.