Over the past couple of months we’ve been working with a few people helping teach them to do basic SEO on their sites. One question that often seems to appear surrounds anchor text. What is it? What impact does it have? Why is it so important?
In short, anchor text describes the words that appear on a link. For example, the following HTML would create a link with the word ‘Dog Collars’:
<a href="http://www.hamishmcbeth.co.uk/categories/Just-for-Dogs/Dog-Collars/Dog Collars">Dog Collars</a>
But why is this important from an SEO perspective?
When Google, Bing and any other search engines calculate how high to rank a certain page under a certain search term (ie. What the user has typed into Google when hunting for something) they look at a number of things. One of the most important is the number of in-pointing links going into a page from other websites and the anchor text that’s used. So, in theory, if you have a lot of links to a certain page with the ‘dog collars’ anchor text then you’ll appear higher up the rankings for that search term than a page that doesn’t have those in-pointing links.
A number of factors do make the relevance of an in-pointing link more or less effective – the most important being the ‘authority’ that the page containing the link has. If, for example, you managed to get a link to your site on the front page of facebook.com it would be seen as much more important than a link from, say, your personal site that nobody knows about because it only launched yesterday.
So, when thinking about your SEO strategy, first work out what the 3 or 4 most important search terms are and try to build links with that anchor text. Oh, and don’t forget to optimise your content!