Anchor text (the text in a link) and anchor text optimization (a facet of SEO), provides webmasters with a unique opportunity to sculpt a preferential or tiered pecking order.

Optimizing Internal and External Link Anchor Text

This pecking order cultivates continuity with search engines as well as assists human visitors (the ones that pay the bills) to understand which characteristics are expected on the destination page. If a link says blue shoes, then would expect to see blue shoes if you clicked it. To search engines, keywords incubate context; so, by linking to a page enough times with a specific keyword, those links will earmark that page as a destination for those keywords. Essentially, links and/ or anchor text allow you to crawl the web like an index (moving from page to page and website to website). Aside from acting as a primary means of navigation, the more optimized the anchor text is, the more relevance it can impart to both humans and search engines alike.

external and internal Link Anchor
Most of all, optimized anchor text
(1) Manages user expectations “what they expect when they click it.”
(2) It improves the user experience (so visitors are presented with convenient links to burrow deeper into your website) as well as
(3) Aid search engines extracting contrast (from page to page or site to site) to categorize relevance.

A page with 100 other pages linking to it within the site and 25 pages from other websites linking to it (with corresponding anchors) are what identify that page as a candidate for the keywords contained in the links.


Depending on how structured the on page elements are, such as the title, meta description, if there are synonyms that create an additional context within the content all determine how well that page will fare in the search engine results page when a query is executed. By you linking to a specific page multiple times, it produces a type of topical coherence (like a road map or blueprint) of what that pages purpose is (as it relates to the rest of the website). Not only do search engines interpret the keywords “in anchor text” with more significance than an ordinary occurrence of a keyword, but visitors also expect to see additional information on a topic when they click or follow a link.


How do you get the most out of anchor text?

The tendency to over-optimize a web site comes from inconsistently linking at every occurrence without understanding that “where you point those links” invariably determines how your own websites internal link graph communicates intent to search engines. Much like a table of contents, the link graph within a website determines which pages correspond specifically to what topic or keywords. Wikipedia is a prime example of consistent naming conventions that follow a logical progression of continuity.

category anchor text distribution pie chart

As a result, their internal pages are often found with double rankings at the helm of virtually any keyword. Much in the same way, if you theme your internal links, it increases keyword potency and unlocks their inherent ranking factor in search engines. Ideally you should have a threshold which proportionately dial-in your main keyword first, by linking from your strongest pages first (such as a homepage or other highly trafficked page). Then, you can use other aspects of on page optimization (such as alt attributes, navigation, sitemaps or external links) to create a holistic profile for each page in your website. For example, if I have product pages that contain multiple colors for a specific product, it is only natural that on the red model page there might be links to the blue model, the black model, the yellow model, etc. By using the modifier (the color) and providing links to the other models (with the color as the anchor text/link) such as black laptop computer, your page still gets credit for the root phrase (which in this instance is laptop computer).


By varying the array of inbound and internal links, you can create keyword stemming for each page so it can rank for multiple variations any time a search engine can latch on to an individual or paired keyword based on the elements on that page. This could mean an instance in the title, another keyword instance in the meta tags and an instance of a third keyword on the page itself somewhere in the body text could be significant enough to produce a direct hit from a search query (based on how reputable and topically themed your website is).In addition, if you linked to the black laptop page from another segment of the website with additional anchor text such as Apple, Toshiba, or Dell and the suffix laptop computer and incorporated those keywords into the title or meta description; you have effectively created a feedback loop of pertinent data that unifies the subject of the page.

If someone search for black apple laptop computer in a search engine, since you have internal links referencing that page with color specific inbound links (black, red, blue, etc.) and anchor text via internal links pointing at that same page with manufacturer/brand keyword modifiers; the cross-pollination of relevance from the links produces a hybrid ranking. This hybrid/fusion of links to the destination page allows that page to rank higher with less dependency on off page ranking factors (links from other sites). If you just had an “aha” moment, we understand.  The gravity implied by this statement is immense; essentially, your own website can produce its own ranking factor and authority from internal links. Just like the first example above, with additional links, the same page could even rank for the keywords Apple Computer, Dell Computer, Toshiba Laptop, etc. based on the threshold and concentration of internal and inbounds from other websites.


Finding that tipping point, which is the marriage of a sufficient amount of content as well as enough internal link authority coupled with off page rapport is unique to each keyword (based on competitiveness and popularity). The more internal links you can develop from relevant pages within your website to other relevant pages reinforces a logical array of naming conventions that correspond with what a person might type to find your product or service.

SEO involves optimizing your on-page content to correspond to as many potential keywords that would mirror motivated buyers search behavior. Although the premise of anchor text optimization seems rudimentary, it is one of the most significant and powerful SEO techniques that you can implement (from the start) instead of having to go back and fix sub-optimal link architecture after the fact.


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