Anchor text is a technical term to describe any text which is a link… There is also a version of this that applies to images links.
Due to recent Google updates this technique is not as important as it once was, but it should still be looked at
Tim Berners-Lee, a former telecoms engineer is widely regarded as the person who invented the internet as we see it today. Amongst the technologies he created, the ability to navigate between documents was to become known as a hyperlink, and without it, it could be argued that the net would simply not function.
Beyond being simply a technology to link documents, by ‘naming’ the link, it allowed people to get an idea of what a web page contained before going to it.
When the Google search engine was released, one of the signals Google looked at was the text that was being used on web pages to link to other pages.
As text generally has to be created for a link, it was fair to assume this text could be considered as a way for determining what a potential page could be about.
If the anchor text was a close or exact match for the destination, Google thought this link should be considered as a bigger vote, over sites with link of non relating text links.
For Image links Google also looks at other part of the link HTML to make the same assumption.
In recent years this has been a large focus for many Search Engine Optimisation techniques and as such Google has been looking for sites which abuse this deliberately and penalising accordingly.
It is however worth still looking at this with regards to SEO as it is a factor which Google still does consider.
While it is true that no one outside of Google knows the mechanism for determining rank in its search engine listing, we do know Google likes the top ten pages for a given phrase for a reason, and it is this fact we can use to formulate our strategy.
The reason for looking at the top ten as a whole is that it allows us to remove the ‘freak’ results of any one website.
With regards to Anchor text, it’s a good idea to look to get as many links with a match for your search phrase as possible, linking to the page you are optimising. Search engine optimisation is different for Google over some other search engines as it ranks pages and not websites…
Although 100% of your anchor text matching your search term would be a really powerful signal to Google that your webpage is relevant for the term, A 100% result would make it look like you had manipulated the results and would likely result in a ban.
We could look at any phrase but it makes sense to look at a popular term. It’s also important to note that the internet is a fluid place and analysis on one day and with one search engine can be different on another day on another engine.
Looking at some of the sites in the top ten does bring some interesting and rule breaking results…
The top rating site as you would expect is Wikipedia. Looking at anchor text usage, very few anchor texts contain Bill Gates. This would be expected due to the nature of the site, with a site like thegatesnote.com as this is a website about Bill Gates as you would expect nearly all the anchor texts have the key phrase in (over 80%). The lesson to learn from here is that having a lot of anchor text with your key phrase can be a good idea, but only if the site is niche enough to support it.
For most sites it is wise to include a range of anchor texts so Google sees the site as natural.
Now when Google changes the algorithm we can rerun the analysis and be happy that our technique will still work.