Thursday, July 14, 2011

SEO Basics – How to Write and Use Anchor Text

Maybe it seems too simple, but I’m amazed at how many articles, press releases and blog posts don’t make effective use of anchor text. Let’s start with a basic definition. I found a lot of definitions that would make your head spin and your eyes cross. Since you wouldn’t be able to read the rest of my post in that condition, here’s one that is written in plain English:

Anchor text  [ang-ker tekst] -  Clickable text in a Web document that, once clicked, takes the reader to another Web page.

There seems to be a misconception that anchor text is the text that surrounds the clickable link. This is not true. Here is an example:

                        Click here to Learn the SEO Song

“Learn the SEO Song” is not the anchor text in this example. “Click here” is the anchor text. Now, imagine you are wearing special glasses that only let you read anchor text on a page, and absolutely nothing else. What would be more interesting and informative: “Click here” or “Learn the SEO Song” – Which phrase tells you more about the content of the page? Right, exactly.

The HTML for the above example looks like this:

<a href=”">Click here</a> to Learn the SEO Song

Ok, so a better way of constructing the anchor text, that actually says something to a visitor wearing those special “Anchor Text Goggles” would be like this:

                        Click here to Learn the SEO Song

The HTML now looks like this:

Click here to <a href=”">Learn the SEO Song</a>

Ok, you’ve got the basics. Now here’s a great tool you can use to practice until you get the hang of it:  Improve Your Anchor Text Skills with Hub Spot’s Press Release Grader 

Now why would a Press Release Grader help you improve your anchor text?

Anchor Text Goggles in Action
Ok, imagine that you have content or a product or service you want the world to know about. Imagine that all the people who can really help you get the word out are wearing Anchor Text Goggles, and they can only read the anchor text on your page and nothing else. Back in school, when we wrote papers, these were called “citations.” Now I know we’ve all been trying to forget about those days – or maybe we have forgotten without even trying, but stay with me…

Anchor text [or a citation] helps readers understand what is most important to you and what you are trying to tell them. Now for the kicker:

Citations  used well not only would make your 5th grade teacher proud, they give your users links to helpful, authoritative or interesting information that helps you understand a topic, product or service better. When you do that, Google likes it too. In fact Google likes it a lot. In fact, Google likes it so much that it’s a key component to how they rank one Web site over another.

Practice your anchor text. You’ll get a happy Web site, a happy 5th grade teacher and a happy Google [aka the visitor with the Anchor Text Googles]. For more information on how to improve the quality of your website, click here.