The anchor of any good SEO strategy

June 7, 2011

Let’s face it: search engine optimization has a lot of moving parts. But while keeping a handle on the all-important (and ever-changing) world of SEO is an endless challenge for content marketers, there are still plenty of simple steps you can take to increase page value in search.

One of the simplest and most overlooked examples involves the proper use of anchor text for SEO. Basically, anchor text is any hyperlinked text on a page. For example:

What is anchor text? This is anchor text!

Simple enough, right? But what many online marketers new to SEO don’t realize is that the actual words you hyperlink can have a significant impact on page rank in Google.

I wrote recently about the important role backlinks play in SEO. But while the link itself is important, what Googe’s really interested in is what SEOmoz refers to as link relevancy, and this is where quality anchor text can help. Search engines like Google use anchor text to help decipher the relevancy of the content it links to. Or to put it more simply, whatever keywords are used in the anchor text add link juice to the page it takes you to.

Let’s look an example. Say I posted the following link directing people to a guest article my colleague Amanda Maksymiw wrote over at Content Marketing Institute. Many online marketers or publishers might do something like this:

Click here to see this new article on content curation for online marketing.

While I’ve created a backlink here, Google has associated it with the keywords “Click here”. Unfortunately, those words have nothing to do with the targeted keywords for the content itself, which is about curating content as part of an online marketing strategy.

A better use of anchor text would be something like this:

Check out this new article on content curation for online marketing.

As you can see, the anchor text now includes keywords relevant to the page it is pointing to. This is important because Google will then associate this backlink with the phrases like “content curation.” The result is that Amanda’s article will then see a boost in page rank around that phrase when people search for it – not only because the page itself is optimized, but because it was “tagged” as being about that keyword topic in the backlink’s anchor text.

Some more quick tips for link building as part of your online marketing strategy:

  • While this is a good general linking practice, you’ll see the greatest value from backlinks coming from external sources. So be sure to keep anchor text in mind when submitting your guest posts!
  • Google also considers the content on the page hosting the backlink when determining page rank. For example, if I linked to Amanda’s article from a popular webpage on content curation, it would probably carry more weight than if it was linked to by some random blog.
  • Using keyword-rich anchor text to link to other pages will likely inspire others to do the same. The result? Higher quality backlinks.
  • Adding meta titles to all your hyperlinks (very easily done is WordPress) is also a wise practice.
  • The length of anchor text can also play a role in the value Google places on it. A best practice is to keep them as short as reasonably (again, reasonably) possible.

Finally, check out some of these resources for more details on the power of anchor text (particularly the SEOmoz article; one of the best sources for all things SEO).

You can find more information on content marketing and editorial practices at the OpenView Labs website. You can also follow Brendan on Twitter @BrenCournoyer and find more from the OpenView team @OpenViewVenture.

Content Strategist

Brendan worked at OpenView from 2011 until 2012, where he was an editor, content manager and marketer. Currently Brendan is the Vice President of Corporate Marketing at <a href="">Brainshark</a> where he leads all corporate marketing initiatives related to content, creative, branding, events, press and analyst relations, and customer marketing.