This post is meant to be helpful for all levels of SEO expertise.
Whether a link leads to another page on the same website (internal link), or to a page on a different website (external link), you need to use good anchor text. This makes it easy for users to identify the content of the destination page, but it also makes sure search engines assign the right value to the page. So, the better and more search engine optimized you can make your anchor text, the better it is for everyone who visits and can gain value from the page.
Tell Visitors What They’ll Find on the Destination Page
‘Click here’ has to be one of the most common rookie mistakes made with anchor text. The problem with phrases like ‘click here’ is that it says nothing about the destination page. Click here for what? Sure the explanation might be in the text before that, but users don’t often consider the surrounding text.
Whatever you choose for anchor text should be related to the page the link leads to and avoid things such as URL addresses, product numbers, or page numbers, unless they’re referenced specifically for information purposes.
Link Internally and Externally
There are generally two reasons for a link: 1) to provide additional information, 2) to help users navigate a website. So, keep that in mind as you create your pages. If you are working on a blog post, for example, and the purpose of the website is to sell a specific product, don’t make users look for the product page. Link directly to the product page!
Don’t go too overboard with the links on a page, however, or you could find yourself confusing users and actually harming the page’s search rankings. Use only as many links as are necessary to make the site easy to navigate or provide enough additional information to give a solid understanding of the material. If the link doesn’t do either, get rid of it.
You also want to avoid keyword stuffing your anchor text. You want to keep your search engine optimization strategy in mind, but any more than one or two keywords and it just makes things way too confusing.
Keep Anchor Text Short
Anchor text should always be long enough that users can understand what the destination page is about, but short enough to make it easily digestible. Once you start using long sentences or paragraphs, it starts to compound the meaning and purpose of the page. For example: “Buy red shoes with pink bows to go with the black dress you just purchased” in comparison to: “red shoes.
If you find the anchor text getting too lengthy, consider the destination page and ask yourself what the core reason is for adding the link. If it’s to sell red shoes, use ‘red shoes’ as the anchor text. If you have more than one pair available, consider linking higher up in the site architecture (category page). In our example, if you want to be more descriptive with your anchor text, consider using images or a section on the page that says ‘You might also like…’ to help give the anchor text context.
How you color and format your links will play a large role in how the page is used. When readers scan a page, for example, they use headlines, bold or italics, and links to move through the page. By making it easy for visitors to identify links, they can quickly pick them out and locate the one they’re looking for.
Perhaps most importantly, good formatting lets the user know that section of the text is clickable and will take them to additional information. In other words, users know they can click a particular phrase. So, to make them stand out, make sure links are in a contrasting color to the regular text. You also want to make visited links a third color, so when visitors return to a page, they can easily see where they’ve been and find pages they were on previously.