Anchor Text in SEO Link Building: Fully Explained

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By Tomislav

Key Takeaways

Anchor Text Essentials: Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink that enhances user experience and SEO by providing context and indicating the relevance of the linked webpage.
Branded Anchor Text: Utilizing a brand name as anchor text is safe, boosts brand recognition, and is particularly beneficial for linking to your homepage.
Exact Match Caution: Use exact match anchor text sparingly due to the risk of appearing manipulative. It’s beneficial but should be balanced with other types for a diverse link profile.
Partial Match Strategy: Partial match anchor text is preferred over exact match for its balance between relevance and avoiding over-optimization, though it should be used cautiously on ‘money’ pages.
Generic and Naked Anchor Texts: Include generic and naked anchor texts in your backlink profile for natural diversity and transparency, respectively.
Diversification is Key: A diverse anchor text profile is essential to avoid negative scrutiny from Google’s algorithms, incorporating a mix of branded, partial, generic, and naked anchor texts.
Do’s and Don’ts: Do use diverse anchor texts, focus on relevance, and prioritize user experience. Don’t overuse exact match, include irrelevant keywords, or create a spammy anchor text profile.

What is Anchor Text?

Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink that navigates from one webpage to another.

It is typically underlined and colored differently from the surrounding text to indicate a link.

Anchor text is crucial for user experience (UX) and search engine optimization (SEO).

For users, it provides context about the content they will find upon clicking the link.

For search engines, it signals the topic and relevance of the linked webpage.

Most Common Types of Anchor Text and How to Use Them Safely

Branded Anchor Text

Branded anchor text uses a brand name as the hyperlink’s text.

It is especially relevant for businesses aiming to establish their online presence and improve SEO rankings.

Applicable to all business sizes, it strengthens the link between the brand and the content.

Using a brand’s name as anchor text can enhance user experience and signal the content’s relevance to the brand.

This anchor text type is safe and aids in building brand recognition.

I’m particularly supportive of using branded anchor text for backlink building in SEO.

Using branded anchor text for links to your homepage is safe and effective, reflecting a common linking practice.

While not the only strategy, branded anchor texts are generally very safe and effective.

Example of branded anchor text:

  • Simple brand name: Linking to “Wikipedia:” with the anchor text “Wikipedia”.
  • Brand name with variation: Linking to “Apple:” with the anchor text “Visit the Apple website”.
  • Brand name with possessive: Linking to “New York Times:” with the anchor text “The New York Times website”.

Exact Match Anchor Text

Exact match anchor text includes the exact keyword or phrase that the linked page targets.

This anchor text directly mirrors the optimized keyword or phrase, linking the text and content clearly.

While beneficial for SEO, signaling the linked content’s relevance, caution is essential.

Overusing exact match anchor text can signal manipulation to search engines, hindering ranking efforts.

Hence, exact match anchor text should be used judiciously, balancing with other anchor text types for a diverse link profile.

This is crucial for your ‘money’ pages, where too many exact match backlinks suggest unnatural tactics.

Such patterns are rarely natural online.

My advice: avoid this strategy for ‘money’ pages. It’s fine to use exact match anchor text elsewhere but sparingly and diversely.

Examples of exact match anchor text:

  • “Learn more about SEO services today!” (linking to a page about SEO services) – never do this when building backlinks
  • “This article provides valuable content marketing tips.” (linking to a page about content marketing tips) – do this sparingly
  • “Get started with email marketing for your business.” (linking to a page about email marketing) – do this sparingly

Partial Match Anchor Text

Partial match anchor text involves using a keyword along with other words or phrases within a hyperlink.

It strikes a balance between exact match anchor text and more generic variations.

This method maintains relevance to the linked content while avoiding over-optimization risks of exact match anchor text.

While partial match anchor text is safer than exact match for backlink building, I do not recommend using it for your ‘money’ pages.

Examples of partial match anchor text:

  • “The Ultimate Guide to SEO Strategies for Beginners” (linking to a page about SEO strategies)
  • “Learn effective content marketing tips to grow your website traffic” (linking to a page about content marketing tips)
  • “Boost your sales with a powerful email marketing campaign” (linking to a page about email marketing)

Generic Anchor Text

Generic anchor text uses generic words or phrases that don’t specifically describe the content of the linked page.

These phrases are often broad and lack keywords, offering little to no information about the link’s destination.

While it may seem like a missed optimization opportunity, generic links occur naturally and should be included in a natural backlink profile.

Overly optimizing anchor text for every link can be more damaging than not optimizing at all.

Examples of generic anchor text:

  • “Click here”
  • “Learn more”
  • “Read this”

Naked Anchor Text

Naked anchor text, also known as a URL anchor, simply displays the full URL of the linked website as the clickable link.

Unlike other types of anchor text, it lacks any descriptive or keyword-rich phrases.

This straightforward approach can be seen as both a benefit and a limitation.

On one hand, using naked anchor text provides transparency to users by clearly showing the destination URL.

However, from an SEO perspective, naked anchor text may lack context and keyword relevance compared to more descriptive anchor text variations.

If you see a naked anchor text backlink pointing to your website, worry not.

Naked anchor text links are perfectly fine and will still bring the vast majority of benefits even compared to exact match anchor text links.

When building backlinks, sprinkle in links with naked anchor text to diversify your backlink profile.

Example of naked anchor text:

  • Instead of: “Learn more about SEO strategies on [Search Engine Optimization (SEO)] websites.”
  • You would see: “Learn more about SEO strategies on”.

Importance of Diversifying Anchor Text When Building Backlinks

Diversifying anchor text is crucial for building a natural backlink profile that meets Google’s algorithm expectations.

In other words, you don’t want your backlink profile to stand out in a negative way.

This can attract scrutiny and negatively impact your Google rankings.

Google uses a complex array of algorithms and technologies to scrutinize backlinks, including:

  • Machine Learning: These models are trained on vast datasets to spot patterns in backlink profiles, such as sudden spikes or unnatural anchor text distribution.
  • Link Graph Analysis: Google’s vast link graph helps in analyzing the structure of backlinks, spotting suspicious activities like link farms.
  • Web Spam Detection Techniques: Google’s patented techniques analyze the quality of linking sites, link context, and traffic patterns to identify spam.

Bottom line, actively building backlinks, especially through purchase, is against Google’s guidelines.

Google views backlinks as votes of confidence, and acquiring inauthentic votes disrupts the algorithm’s effectiveness.

The algorithm is designed to identify and discount manipulative practices.

Hence, the safest approach is maintaining a natural-looking backlink profile and avoiding actions that draw unwanted attention.

Do’s and Don’ts of Anchor Text When Building Links

Anchor text plays a crucial role in link building, both for search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience.

Here are some key do’s and don’ts to follow:


  • Use diverse anchor texts: Aim for a mix of branded, partial match, and generic anchor texts to create a natural profile.
  • Focus on relevant keywords: Integrate relevant keywords and variations within your anchor text, but avoid keyword stuffing.
  • Maintain keyword balance: While aiming for relevant keywords, prioritize user-friendly and informative anchor text that accurately describes the linked content.
  • Utilize branded anchor text: Include your brand name as anchor text to increase brand awareness and establish trust.
  • Context matters: Ensure the anchor text flows naturally within the surrounding content and accurately reflects the linked page’s topic.
  • Prioritize user experience: Use clear and concise anchor text that informs users about the content they will encounter upon clicking.


  • Avoid Exact Match Overuse: Refrain from overusing exact match anchor text as it can appear manipulative to search engines.
  • Steer Clear of Irrelevant Keywords: Do not use anchor text that leads to irrelevant pages or fails to satisfy user intent.
  • Limit Excessive Anchor Text: Avoid excessive use of anchor text within your website, as it can lead to Google penalties for spammy practices.
  • Say No to Spammy Anchor Text: Stay away from spammy anchor text that has no relation to the linked page or its content.
  • Diversify Anchor Text Distribution: Ensure a diverse set of anchor text types, including long-tailed, generic, and brand anchors, for a natural link profile.