As you’re probably aware, off-site links which point back to your website are a critical part of the calculation that Google makes when determining where in the search engine results your site appears.
Part of the effectiveness of your links have to do with the anchor text that the link employs. Anchor text is the text component of your link, and is comprised of the clickable text which appears when you type the link in code.
http://netage.co.za is a plain text link. It’s clickable in most cases, but it doesn’t contain any anchor text.
Net Age is an anchor text link. The link points to exactly the same page as the text link above it, but it uses the anchor text “Net Age,” which acts as the link.
Any words can be used as anchor text, using the following HMTL code:
<code><a href=”http://netage.co.za”>This Is The Anchor Text</a></code>
Using the code in the line above, will create a link that looks like this: This Is The Anchor Text.
Anchor Text & Keywords
Thanks to the way that Google determines the importance and relevance of links that point to your website, the correct use of anchor text is crucial when you’re building backlinks to your site.
Ideally, to reinforce the importance and authority of a link, the anchor text in a link should be relevant to the page at which your link points.
Therefore, if we wanted to create a link to our web design page, our link should ideally look like this: Web Design.
As you’ll see if you click on the link, that link points to our page about web design. Using the anchor text “Web Design,” pointing to a page which is about web design, tells Google that this is a relevant link, which provides important information about the page to which it points, within the link itself.
Wherever possible, anchor text should contain the primary keyword which defines the destination page’s content. If the anchor text includes a keyword phrase that people search to find your business, it’s even better.
However, as important as your anchor text is when it comes to Google deciding where your site should rank, there are instances where Google does not take your anchor text into account.
When Google Doesn’t Use Anchor Text
As we’ve just mentioned above, there are circumstances under which Google will not take your anchor text into account. The following are some suggestions to help you ensure that your anchor text is considered by Google.
The NoFolllow Attribute
The rel=”nofollow” attribute which some websites add to their links is an instruction to Google not to follow the link in which it appears. This attribute was developed to allow pages to carry links which do not transfer PageRank from the page on which they appear, to the target page.
This came about as part of the many attempts to control search engine rankings, and prevented links from transferring some of the authority of the page which they appear.
A the code for a “nofollow” link looks like this:
<code><a href=”http://netage.co.za” rel=”nofollow”>Anchor Text</a></code>
The link above will not only not pass PageRank, but will also prevent Google from being able to use your anchor text as a factor in determining the importance of your link.
When adding a link on a website, you should first make sure that the links on that page do not have the “nofollow” attribute. One way of checking this is to view the page source, and see if other links from that page have this attribute.
Invalid URL Characters
The URL, or uniform resource locator, is your page “address” which allows users (and search engines) to find your page on the internet.
There are a number of characters which are considered “invalid” when used in URLs. This does not mean that your URL will not work, but rather that Google will have trouble indexing URLs which contain these characters.
Characters such as spaces, exclamation points, comma’s, brackets, hash symbols, etc. are all considered unsuitable for URLs, so ensure that the url which your anchor text is pointing to does not contain invalid characters.
Not only will Google struggle to index these pages, but many browsers may be unable to render the page, being unable to substitute the correct code for the invalid characters..
Incorrect Anchor Text
As we explained at the start of this article, it’s important to use anchor text which is relevant to your target page. If you’re using the incorrect anchor text, and pointing to a page which has no relevance to the anchor text you’ve used in your link, Google will not consider your page relevant to the search term, even if the search term (or keyword) is included in your anchor text.
Multiple Links To The Same Page
If any given page contains more than one link to the same page, Google will only take the anchor text of the first link into consideration, even if each link has different anchor text.
Avoid linking to the same page more than one from any single page. If you have links to multiple different pages of the same site on one page, Google will take the anchor text of each link into account.
301 Redirects & Anchor Text
If you have an anchor text link which points to a 301 redirect, there is a good chance that Google will not take the anchor text of your link into account. Since the anchor text should be relevant to the target page, changing the target into a 301 redirect will invalidate the anchor text of the link, even if the page which the link redirects to has relevance to the anchor text.
Wherever possible, avoid using 301 redirects unless absolutely necessary.