Internal Link Anchor Text: Why it Matters for User Experience and Website Navigation
- 1 What Is Anchor Text?
- 2 How Important Are Internal Link Anchors For SEO?
- 3 Internal Anchor Text Optimization Best Practices
- 3.1 Ensure Page Relevance
- 3.2 Carefully Consider The Context
- 3.3 Don’t Use Generic Anchor Text
- 3.4 Use Descriptive Anchor Text
- 3.5 Use Exact Match Anchor Text
- 3.6 Keep The Anchor Short
- 3.7 Don’t Use The Same Anchor Text For Multiple Pages
- 3.8 Don’t Use URLs as Anchor Text
- 3.9 Don’t Include Punctuation Marks In The Anchor Text
- 3.10 Automate Internal Link Insertion With Caution
- 4 The Key Takeaway
Anchor text choice is an important part of any internal link strategy.
Instead of using random anchor text that seems the most convenient at the time of writing, a bit of forethought and consideration can help your pages rank better, and provide a better experience to your users.
Here is what you need to know about internal link anchor text:
What Is Anchor Text?
Anchor text is the clickable text of a link. It’s usually underlined and of a different color than the rest of the text, most often blue.
Anchor text helps both search engines and page visitors understand what the page you are linking to is about. When used intelligently, it can help pages rank better and boost click-through rates.
How Important Are Internal Link Anchors For SEO?
Internal link anchors are very important for SEO.
- They help search engines understand the structure of your website.
- They help search engines understand what the page you are linking to is about, as they are placed in a certain context.
- They are considered to be a ranking factor.
- They tell visitors where the link will lead them.
Internal Anchor Text Optimization Best Practices
Here is how you should optimize your internal link anchor text to ensure you tick all relevant SEO and UX boxes:
Ensure Page Relevance
When selecting the internal links you want to include in an article, first consider how relevant they are to what you are currently writing about.
Your goal is not to add as many internal links to a page as possible. It’s to a) lend other pages authority by mentioning them in a relevant context and b) tell your readers there are other pages they may be interested in available on your website.
When writing an outline for your article, take a look at the posts you have previously published, and make a list of the ones that can logically be referenced.
Carefully Consider The Context
The context surrounding an anchor text is just as important as the anchor text itself. When composing a sentence, think about the most natural way to include your chosen anchor.
The words mentioned near the anchor will help search engines better understand the target page. Plus, they will introduce the link to your readers seamlessly.
It’s good practice to choose a main anchor text for each of your pages, and then use appropriate variations as the need arises.
Don’t Use Generic Anchor Text
Avoid using generic anchor text as much as possible. Anchors like “click here”, “read more” and similar constructions should be avoided, as they are not nearly descriptive enough.
Having a few of these anchors will not be harmful, but aim to keep them to a minimum and use descriptive anchors instead.
Use Descriptive Anchor Text
The main purpose of anchor text is to describe what the target page is about. Using descriptive anchors is thus considered good practice.
For example, we have published an article about orphan pages on our blog.
A good anchor text for this page would be:
- Orphan page
- Orphan pages
- Page with no internal links
- Find orphan pages
- Fix orphan pages
Aim to be informative and succinct, and focus on telling readers what they can expect to find on the linked page.
Use Exact Match Anchor Text
Using exact match anchor text* is often frowned upon by SEOs, however, it is still a legitimate practice. Google advises it:
Exact match anchor text will naturally occur in the navigational elements of your website. Don’t be afraid to use it when adding internal links to page content either, but first and foremost aim to keep anchors natural and contextually sound. If that means using an exact match: go for it!
*Exact match anchor text uses the page’s main keyword.
Keep The Anchor Short
Try to keep the anchor text as short as possible, while communicating what the target page is about. 2-4 words should usually be enough.
If you want to refer to a page by its title, use the entire title as the anchor text, and capitalize it accordingly.
Never use entire sentences as anchor text. Don’t use headings as anchor text either.
Don’t Use The Same Anchor Text For Multiple Pages
You will often create pages that cover similar topics and that may be linked to using similar anchor text. However, each page should have its unique internal link anchor text, which shouldn’t be used for other internal pages.
For example, a fitness blog may have several articles on the topic of protein powder. Let’s imagine these are their titles:
- What is protein powder?
- How much protein powder do I need per day?
- What is the best protein powder for women?
While the anchor text for each of them will contain the phrase protein powder, they should be used in very different contexts. They should also be unique for the page:
- What is protein powder? → protein powder
- How much protein powder do I need per day? → how much protein powder, amount of protein powder, daily protein powder intake
- What is the best protein powder for women? → best protein powder for women, protein powder for women
Don’t Use URLs as Anchor Text
Never use URLs as your anchor text. Instead, select a suitable phrase that will describe what the target page is about.
The URL itself will not be informative enough either for search engines or for your visitors.
Don’t Include Punctuation Marks In The Anchor Text
If there is a punctuation mark immediately before or after the anchor text, put it outside the link tag, i.e. don’t make it a part of the anchor text.
Automate Internal Link Insertion With Caution
While this feature undoubtedly saves a lot of time and effort, make sure you don’t inadvertently create too many links with the same exact match anchor at the same time, as it may come off as spammy. While this is highly unlikely, you do still want to exercise some caution.
Instead, use several anchor text variations when using our automatic link insertion feature. You may need to repeat the process several times, but it will deliver the most natural results.
The Key Takeaway
Internal link anchor text optimization plays an important role in any well-rounded SEO strategy. By carefully choosing the anchors you use, you can both help search engines index and rank your pages, and your website visitors find exactly what they are looking for on it.