It may sound a cliché of the dating world but the phrase “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” is surprisingly accurate when it comes to backlinks. Of course, any link that can point to your site (a.k.a. a backlink for those not already familiar with the term) is helpful to your SEO process but you can find yourself facing a unique problem if you aren’t properly using anchor text.
What is anchor text?
Anchor text is text part of a hyperlink. So in the example, “WP Maintenance Plan provides maintenance, security, and WordPress optimization services,” the anchor text is “WordPress optimization” because it is hyperlinked and will take you to another page.
Note, in the example above this wouldn’t technically qualify as a backlink since I am linking to another page on this site. While internal linking is important and has its place in any SEO plan, we are primarily focused on anchor text as it relates to backlinks for today.
What can happen if you aren’t strategic with your anchor text
While not the most glamorous part of SEO, it is extremely important that you don’t let this be a forgotten one. Anchor texts is one of the metrics that Google uses to determine the relevance of your content for particular keywords.
In a vacuum, anchor texts don’t tell the whole story but combined with all of the other metrics that Google collects, it can be an indication if a page has just been optimized for SEO or if it’s truly relevant to a topic/keyword.
Just last week, we did an audit for a current client that we’ve been focusing exclusively on making on-page optimizations to their site since they are the most cost-effective. We knew the client had enough reputable backlinks pointing to their site to be competitive and enough content for us to optimize. We’ve been making several tweaks over the last 6 months as we watched their rankings climb higher and higher. Then, we noticed the keywords started leveling off in their ascent.
Upon concluding our audit, we realized that this very popular business had ZERO backlinks with an anchor text that matched our keywords. The anchor texts were almost exclusively the business’s name and domain. This was keeping them from making the short leap into the top 3 – 5 rankings for their target keywords.
How to optimize anchor text
As we always candidly tell our clients, backlinking is not cheap to do correctly. It’s why we often try to prioritize on-page optimizations to see if we can help sites rank in the top spot for their keywords. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be actively trying to solve this problem yourself.
SEO value aside, it’s always good for your bottom-line when other businesses/websites are writing about your company. While it may sound strange to ask a business that is going to be writing about you to specifically hyperlink a target keyword, I can almost assure you that this doesn’t sound foreign to them. As more and more companies become SEO-savvy, this type of request is becoming more commonplace than you would think.
Another key thing that you can do that only takes a small amount of time is to request sites that are already pointing to your site to update their anchor text. We can provide a complete list of the backlinks that point to your site and what anchor text they are using, so you can quickly begin contacting people down a list.
Anchor text doesn’t get the same time in the spotlight as other SEO methods, but it is a crucial metric that is often overlooked but can be easily fixed with the right data. If you aren’t already a subscriber, we encourage you to consider enrolling in our WordPress maintenance plan today. We can provide you with the right reports and detailed recommendations that you need to maximize the SEO of your website while also handling all of its day-to-day maintenance for only $49 per month.