Skip to main content
We are Brand SEO Beijing serving international business, your marketing partner, Contact us by mi@mgsh.com.cn

Anchor Text as a Google Ranking Factor: Everything You Need to Know

Anchor text is useful for providing context to users, but is it a Google ranking factor?Keyword-rich anchor text has long been an SEO best practice.

why?

Because it's a way of signaling to search engines what type of pages your links lead to.Many people believe that this information comes into play when ranking pages in search results.

Anchor text is the word or phrase that users use when they click to visit the URL linked in the copy.

Anchor text is great for giving users context on the page they're about to visit, but when it comes to search rankings, does it make any difference?

Below are claims about anchor text as a ranking factor, followed by evidence to support or debunk those claims.

Disclaimer: Anchor Text as a Ranking Factor

Anchor text is considered a ranking factor because it helps search engines associate URLs with specific keywords or key phrases.

The importance of anchor text is not limited to what search engines can do with it;It is also crucial to provide a good user experience by enhancing website accessibility.

On-page optimization techniques that improve user experience tend to be positively correlated with search rankings, which is another reason you’ll see anchor text listed as a top ranking factor.

When optimizing a website, a good rule of thumb is that SEO follows user experience.

When a website is built to provide the best experience for human visitors, it usually ends up being optimized for search engines.This isn't always true, but you'll learn that it works with anchor text.

On-page optimization techniques that improve user experience tend to be positively correlated with search rankings, which is another reason you’ll see anchor text listed as a top ranking factor.

When optimizing a website, a good rule of thumb is that SEO follows user experience.

When a website is built to provide the best experience for human visitors, it usually ends up being optimized for search engines.This isn't always true, but you'll learn that it works with anchor text.

Anchor text enhances the user experience in several ways.Descriptive anchor text can help users instantly identify the link they are looking for when they are quickly browsing an article.

For example, if a user clicks on an article that makes a crazy claim, they may want to browse it to find the source of the information.

In this case, generic anchor text doesn't help users find the link they need quickly.It also doesn't tell Google anything about the destination page.This is why descriptive anchor text is recommended instead of generic words or phrases.

Another less obvious way that anchor text can improve user experience is through accessibility.Think about what the experience of a visually impaired website visitor is like.

Blind or visually impaired users rely on screen readers to browse the web.This involves using software to read all text (including links) on the page as the user navigates the website.

If users hear "click here" or "read more" for all the links they come across on the page, they won't find it helpful.In fact, it would be downright frustrating and they might choose not to visit the site again.

Accessibility is the key to providing a good user experience.Even if you don't think it matters to your specific audience, it does matter to a search engine like Google.

With all that said, it's time to answer the question - is anchor text a ranking factor?

Evidence of anchor text as a ranking factor

Yes, anchor text is a ranking factor.

Using descriptive anchor text when inserting links on web pages is a best practice listed in Google's SEO Getting Started Guide.

For starters, SEO can have a lot to take in, but it's not a secret science.Google aims to provide users with the most relevant results, and it requires the cooperation of site owners to do so.

That's why Google has made it clear what it wants site owners to do when optimizing pages for its search engines.

When optimizing your pages to rank in Google, it's wise to listen to Google.So what does Google think about anchor text?

A Beginner's Guide to SEO from Google:

"...The better your anchor text, the easier it will be for users to navigate and the easier it will be for Google to understand the content of the pages you link to.

With proper anchor text, users and search engines can easily understand what the linked page contains.

The Beginner's Guide then goes on to recommend the following best practices:

  • Choose descriptive text, not generic or off-topic text.
  • Write concise text, not lengthy sentences or entire paragraphs.
  • Make links visible, as they should be easy to spot in regular text.
  • Use descriptive text for internal links, but avoid overusing keywords.

More recently, Google's John Mueller confirmed that anchor text is still a ranking factor in one of his regular Q&As with the SEO community..

The topic of anchor text comes up frequently in Mueller's Q&A.Here is another example;This time, Mueller addresses the UX aspect of anchor text:

"If you update the anchor text internally to make it easier for users to understand, then often that also helps search engines better understand the context of those pages.So I will definitely do it.

We can’t talk about anchor text as a ranking factor without discussing its importance in the early days of SEO.Google's guide to avoiding overusing keywords in anchor text is a callback to how this signal has been abused in the past.

In the past, it was easy for websites to manipulate their rankings by building links using exact keywords as anchor text.Anchor text carries so much weight that pages can rank for keywords that never appear in page copy.

Longtime SEO professionals may remember Adobe once ranking for the term "click here" as this is a common anchor text site owners use when linking to PDFs.

Google eventually found out how its overestimation of anchor text was being abused by spammers.It addressed this issue in 2012 by releasing a Penguin Algorithm update, which was partly aimed at manipulative link building tactics.

Sites trying to gamble their search rankings with exact-match anchor text are now more likely to be ignored than rewarded.

Anchor Text as a Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

Sites trying to gamble their search rankings with exact-match anchor text are now more likely to be ignored than rewarded.

Google confirmed that anchor text is used in search rankings to gain a deeper understanding of web pages, which may help present those pages to relevant queries.

The strength of anchor text as a ranking factor is nowhere near what it was before Penguin, when sites could rank for their chosen phrases by building keyword rich enough links.

Extended reading:

Top 8 Google Ranking Factors - What Really Matters for SEO

Is AMP a Google ranking factor?

Is Google AdSense a Google Search Ranking Factor?

Back to Top