Anchor text is the name used to describe the clickable text that points back to your website. The precise words used and the number of different websites they are used on helps to determine where your website appears in the search results. For instance, for quite a few years now if you search for the phrase “click here” then the Adobe Acrobat reader download page has shown at the top of the results. Not because Adobe are targeting that phrase but because of the number of pages that have told people to “click here” if they haven’t got Acrobat installed.
Because of that very public display of the importance of using precise keywords in the anchor text, there was a time when SEO concentrated on using the keywords that you want to rank for in as many places as possible.
So wherever website owners had control or influence over the anchor text used, they would use the words they wanted their pages to rank for.
Google has gradually got wise to this form of manipulation of their search results which, in turn, has meant that it now expects a mixture of anchor texts pointing to any particular page.
The logic behind this expectation is that most of the time it is unnatural to have exactly the same words pointing to a page – the Adobe example is quite a rare exception to that rule.
Google are looking for a mixture of anchor texts:
- Keyword phrases
- Business name, sometimes including the town or industry
- Business URL – with or without http, with or without www in front
- Generic phrases such as “click here”
In addition, it’s perfectly normal for the main URL not to actually be clickable. This happens when webmasters forget to link it or when the software they use for the site gets confused or when the webmaster gets confused and thought they were linking the page but instead simply copied the URL into the page and didn’t notice.
There is no precise science for this and, despite what you may read elsewhere, there is no precise mix of these elements that Google consider natural.
In fact, it would be unnatural if there was a precise percentage of each of this type of anchor text.
In the real world, there will be a range for each of these different possibilities and that range will almost certainly change by industry and quite possibly by country as well.
What that means is that it pays to keep in mind the different possible anchor texts and just use them according to your mood when you are endeavouring to get a link back to your site.
Digressing slightly, some webmasters obsess over whether or not a hyperlink is flagged as “no follow”. They think that such a marking means that the search engines don’t follow the link whereas it is actually a misnomer and is supposed to be used to indicate to the search engines that no PageRank should be passed to the receiving site.
Overall, the important thing is to get a mix of anchor text wordings from a mix of sites and let the search engines figure out the rest.