Back when we were blazing through the Internet over a phone line, it may have actually been helpful to include the phrase “click here” in our anchor text to help people understand they could actually click on the text and be directed to another page. However, that time has long since passed, and it is now time to be much smarter about our use of anchor text.
When used properly, anchor text can really enhance user experience and entice users to actually take the action you want them to take. However, it is important to keep some basic ground rules in mind when using anchor text for optimal results.
1. Anchor text should be descriptive
Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide states that anchor text should be descriptive and generic terms such as “click here” and “page” should be avoided as anchor text.
When creating anchor text, always use good descriptive words and be straight forward so that your users will know exactly what they’ll find by clicking your link. Here is an example of some generic, non-descriptive anchor text that we should always avoid.
Here is an example of some great descriptive anchor text that lets users know what they’ll get even before they click on the link.
See how much good descriptive anchor text can improve user experience? It can really make a big difference. Wikipedia is the king of great descriptive anchor text. The site uses descriptive anchor text like no other, and we all know the success they have seen over the years.
2. Anchor text should provide information when read out of context
Users shouldn't have to read a whole paragraph to figure out what your anchor text is about and where it will take them. The truth of the matter is that many people skim through pages looking for helpful resources, and what catches most users’ attention on a page is the anchor text. If a user is searching for a link to your newly released Pinterest eBook, will have a better user experience if you use anchor text like this:
Or, if you create anchor text that can actually be read out of context like this:
In the first example, the user has to go back and read at least part of the paragraph to figure out what “here” will lead to. In the second example, all the user has to do is skim over the anchor text to figure out what it’s about, thus providing a much better user experience.
3. Anchor text should link to nouns when possible
It's best to avoid linking to verbs simply because they are more abstract and vague, and users don’t always know exactly where they will end up when clicking on them.
On the other hand, a link to a good solid noun is something a user can relate to through their senses. It creates a visual picture in their minds, and they’ll know better what to expect when clicking on anchor text that is a noun.
4. Anchor text should be concise
The Google SEO Starter Guide also states that anchor text should be short, but descriptive. Anchor text containing a few words or a short phrase is perfectly acceptable, but making a full sentence or paragraph with all anchor text is strongly discouraged by Google.
5. Anchor text should stand out
CSS and other text styling methods make it possible to hide your anchor text and have it appear as if it were any other text. Google encourages site owners to make it easy for users to distinguish between anchor text and other normal text on a page. If you’re using a styling method to essentially hide your anchor text, you’re probably up to no good and creating a bad user experience along the way.
In the end, creating great anchor text comes down to user experience. You should create anchor text that will make your content better than content without links, and entice your site visitors to take the action you want them to take. Be descriptive, concise, and make your anchor text stand out on your page. If you do, I can’t guarantee you success, but I can guarantee your user experience will be enhanced and your likelihood for success will only increase. Happy anchor-texting!
What tips do you have for creating great anchor text?