What Is Anchor Text In SEO: Types, Importance & Optimization Tips

Much has been said about the importance of anchor texts in SEO. But are any of the talks true?

Will you rank your site solely on using exact-match anchors? Are they a ranking factor?

What is Google saying?

This article will provide the answers to your questions. Here, I discussed everything there is to know about anchor texts — the several types & examples.

More importantly, I’ll show you how much influence anchor texts have on SEO.

So, shall we dive in?

What Is An Anchor Text: Starting From Scratch


I like Moz’s definition of anchor text:


Source: Moz

But there are a few issues I have with that definition. It’s too complex — all that talk of HTML and CSS.

Plus, anchor texts are not always blue. While that is the standard, an anchor can be purple too.

In fact, the color can be anything you desire. For example, I use green for my anchor texts.

So, is there a definition for us simple folk?

Yes. Check this out:

An anchor text is a clickable text [a placeholder] leading to a web page [one of yours or an external website].

I sometimes think of anchor texts as masks. They hide hideous/naked and lengthy URLs. And they are pretty effective at it.

Or don’t you prefer “anchor text” to “https://serpreach.com/what-is-anchor-text-in-seo-its-importance/“?

FYI: anchor text is also known as “link text,” “link label,” or “link title.”

What Does Anchor Text Look Like?

In HTML: an anchor text is embedded in the “a href” tag. It looks like this:

<a href=”https://test.com“> this is a test </a>

In documents or web pages: anchor text is often colored differently or underlined. It will look like this:


Types & Examples Of Anchor Texts

Several SEOs claim all sorts of anchor texts. To me, however, there are only 6 types.

The 6 anchor text types encompass all others. Check them out below — with examples.

Generic Anchor

Like the name, generic anchors [also called random anchors] are often detached from contexts. And if they stand alone, they can be confusing.

And unfortunately, generic anchors are often found in CTAs. They often look like BS.

Another telltale sign: generic anchors don’t include keywords.


  • Click here
  • Read more

My advice:

Add benefits, values, and emotions to the actions. From experience, the additions will enhance your clicks and conversions.

Use this formula:

Action + what + value/benefit


Download a copy of the SEO starter kit to increase your site’s traffic…

Exact Match Anchor

This anchor is arguably the most widely used of the 6 types. Here’s why:

  • Exact match anchors aid SEO
  • They contain your main keywords in the “exact” phrase

Also, exact match anchors can be “article/page title anchors.” In this case, your title will include your keywords.

FYI: exact match anchors are also known as “phrase match anchors” when they contain additional keywords.

Unfortunately, using exact match anchors can be risky. When overused, this anchor disrupts the structure of your pages. Plus, it might come off as an effort to game your rankings.


The link labels in the examples are the main keywords. Hence, exact match anchors.

Partial Match Anchor

Similar to exact match anchors, this type contains all your main keywords but in a different arrangement.

It is often confused with phrase-match anchors.

Here is the difference:

  • Phrase-match anchors = “exact match anchors” + “additional words”
  • Partial match anchors = “re-arranged exact-match/phrase-match anchors”

Another anchor type, “related keyword anchor,” operates like a “partial match.” The only difference is that the former uses secondary/related terms.


When partial match or related keyword anchors are meaningful sentences, they are called “long-tail anchors.”

Either way, these variations will diversify your exact match anchors. This way, you’ll maintain a Google-friendly structure for your pages.


Branded Anchor

Like the name, this anchor uses the brand name as a placeholder for a link. Businesses often use this to add authority to their products and perception.

Side note: brand mentions are vital link building opportunities. Set alerts on Google Alerts and contact the authors for a backlink.

Note: when an anchor text includes your brand name and another keyword, it is no longer “Branded anchor.”

In this case, the anchor is a “brand+keyword” label.


Naked Anchor

I mentioned how anchors are masks for naked URLs. Well, that is not always the case.

You’ll often find URLs as anchors at the footer of articles for references.


Image Anchor

Unlike other anchor types, the placeholder here is an image. How, then, does anchor text come in?

Images have alt tags [texts] that describe the content to bots for indexing. Those texts act as anchors.


So, in case of “lazy loading” or when images do not load, users can still click the anchors.

Which Of The Six Anchor Types Is Best For SEO?

Pre-penguin algorithm update in 2012, SEOs rank pages solely on exact-match anchors. However, that’s a different case today. How so?

Ahrefs studied the anchor texts from the top 20 search results across 19,840 keywords. Here are the findings:

  • Exact-match anchors’ correlation with ranking is relatively weak [Spearman correlation (median) = 0.1869]
  • Phrase-match anchors correlation with ranking is also weak… even weaker [Spearman correlation (median) = 0.1393] than exact-match
  • Partial-match anchors correlation with ranking is just as weak as phrase-match [Spearman correlation (median) = 0.1393]
  • There is no correlation [Spearman correlation (median) = 0.013] between generic anchors and ranking 

Bottom line:

None of the anchor types significantly influence ranking [and SEO generally]. And of the lot, generic anchors are the worst.

In other words, use variations of the anchor types in your content. But don’t include the generic kinds.

More importantly, don’t hinge SEO success on anchors.

Wait, if anchors’ influences are insignificant to seo. How are they important?

What Is The Importance Of Anchor Text In SEO?

Before I give my verdict, let’s hear what Google says.

According to Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page (Google founders), in their 1998 paper [titled The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine], anchor texts improve the quality of search results.

The paper revealed two specific importance of anchor texts in SEO as follows:

  • First, anchor texts describe web pages accurately
  • Secondly, anchor texts help index documents such as images that are difficult for a text-based search engine.

And here is what John Mueller said in 2017 while replying to questions on internal links:


Follow the thread here


Follow the thread here

John’s stance is the same as Sergey’s and Lawrence’s. So, yes, and undoubtedly, anchor texts are crucial to SEO.

But are they a ranking factor?

My take:

While anchors are crucial for SEO, they are not a ranking factor.

Otherwise, you’d only rank for your exact link labels. And that is not often the case.

Take Ahrefs’ guide on “finding email addresses” as an example. The article ranks for 7205 keywords with a total of 6.2K traffic.


The exact-match anchor [find email address] is responsible for only 1,076 [17% of 6.2K] traffic.


Again, anchor texts are critical in SEO. I optimize my content for them. You should too.

Don’t know how?

Read the instructions below…

Optimizing Your Content For Anchor Texts

Finding Anchor Text Opportunities

Excessive/spammy use of anchors is risky. Strike a balance. But even that is not straightforward.

How many anchors should you use per post? Is there a standard ratio?

Unfortunately, there are no standards. But I have a way of rationalizing the issue via SEO tools.

Follow these steps:

  • Go to Semrush > Site audit > enter your domain
  • Go to project > input your domain
  • Click issues > type anchor
  • You’ll see a page like this:
  • Check the “Notices;” you’ll find a guide on links without anchor texts.

More importantly, you’ll see a detailed report on generic anchors that you can improve.

Now you have the suggestions & issues on your site’s anchor texts. Let’s optimize them.

Follow the 5 optimization tips below…

Keep a Natural Flow

The usual rule for writing is that it should flow naturally, and anchor text is no exception. Links must flow naturally with the rest of the information on the page when you add them. It should be easy to read and should feel natural.

A link probably does not belong there if it is difficult to read or fits awkwardly; remove it.

Remember this:

While links and anchors are crucial for SEO, they should not impede the content’s flow or direct message.

The quality of your content should be the priority, as it is the foundation of all effective SEO strategies.

Maximize Page Relevance

As a result of the search engines’ sensitivity to even the minutest information, relevance plays a significant influence on page ranking. The rating of both pages is improved depending on how precisely the linked page’s content relates to its own. So, the subject of the source page and the anchor text must correlate.

Search engines take note of the different anchor texts used to link to the original content and use them to determine the post’s topic and the kinds of keyword or query searches it might be appropriate for.

Keep Your Keyword Density Appropriate

Through Google Penguin, Google keeps a tight check on anchor texts. If a few of a site’s inbound links use the exact anchor text, it increases the risk that these links were not obtained naturally. The ideal strategy is an anchor text relevant to your topic and keyword. Instead of using the exact anchor text, you can achieve fantastic results by employing a range of natural anchor texts.

Although links and anchor texts have already been discussed in terms of importance, it is still crucial for marketers to make sure that the link text is clickable.

After highlighting the text, add hyperlinks using the shortcut menus. You can use the <a> and </a> tags in HTML. These tags show where the hyperlink starts and ends.

Also, you can use plugins like Yoast to implement anchors on WordPress. Besides, you can add the links in word processors [like Google Docs] and content optimization tools [like Surfer] before uploading to WordPress.

Experiment More

Due to the unique nature of every firm, SEO must also be approached differently. To determine the best plan for your firm, you should regularly test different link-building strategies.

For the BEST results, experiment with diverse keywords, anchor text phrases, nofollow links, etc.

Anchor Texts Are Important To SEO. But They Are Not Everything.

As discussed, anchor texts help search engines understand your web pages and their elements. This way, your site structure remains intact and is indexable.

However, that is just about the importance of anchor text. It is not a ranking factor like site security or speed.

For overall success, you need to optimize everything on your website. Start with the technical parts, content and off-page SEO.


Does Anchor Text Matter?

Short answer: yes!

Anchor texts improve the quality of search engine results. Specifically, they help the text-based understand media files.

More importantly, anchor texts provide context about web pages for easy indexing.

But are anchor texts a ranking factor? Will you rank because you used them?

Unlike page speed and site security, anchor texts are not a confirmed ranking factor.

What Are The Types Of Anchor Texts In SEO?

There are several categories. In this article, for example, I used 6 classifications. Yoast used 8.

In all, we can collapse the several types into 5:

  1. Branded
  2. Random/generic
  3. Exact-match
  4. Partial-match & phrase-match
  5. Image

How Can You Optimize An Anchor Text?

You can optimize your anchor texts in two ways:

  • Find opportunities — use an SEO tool like Semrush or Ahrefs to audit your site for issues on anchor texts.
  • After rounding up the suggestions from the tools, follow Google’s advice. Make the description succinct: brief and straightforward.

But remember not to over-optimize your content with anchor texts. Also, avoid generic labels as much as possible.