Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Using Anchor Text

Anchor text is the text that is visible in a link to a web page the linked text that is often included on web sites — is another of those keyword anomalies that you should understand. Anchor text usually appears as an underlined or alternately colored word (usually blue) on a web page that links to another page, either inside the same web site or on a different web site. Broadly speaking, search engines see anchor text as a description of the page they link too.

What’s important about anchor text is that it allows you to get double mileage from your keywords.Anchor text is an extremely important factor in your on-page optimization strategies. When a search engine crawler reads the anchor text on your site, it sees the links that are embedded in the text. Those links tell the crawler what your site is all about. So, if you’re using your keywords in your anchor text (and you should be), you’re going to be hitting both the keyword ranking and the anchor text ranking for the keywords that you’ve selected. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. In fact, everything in SEO has these, and with anchor text the exception is that you can over-optimize your site, which might cause search engines to reduce your ranking or even block you from the search results altogether. Over-optimization occurs when all the anchor text on your web site is exactly the same as your keywords, but there is no variation or use of related terminology in the anchor text.

Sometimes, web-site owners will intentionally include only a word or a phrase in all their anchor text with the specific intent of ranking high on a Google search. It’s usually an obscure word or phrase that not everyone is using, and ranking highly gives them the ability to say they rank number one for whatever topic their site covers. It’s not really true, but it’s also not really a lie. This is called Google bombing. However, Google has caught on to this practice and has introduced a new algorithm that reduces the number of false rankings that are accomplished by using anchor text in this way. The other half of anchor text is the links that are actually embedded in the keywords and phrases used on the web page. Those links are equally as important as the text to which they are anchored. The crawler will follow the links as part of crawling your site. If they lead to related web sites, your ranking will be higher than if the links lead to completely unrelated web sites. These links can also lead to other pages within your own web site, as you may have seen anchor text in blog entries do. The blog writer uses anchor text, containing keywords, to link back to previous posts or articles elsewhere on the site. And one other place that you may find anchor text is in your site map. Then to have those page names (which are keywords) on your site map is another way to boost your rankings and thus your traffic — remember that a site map is a representation of your site with each page listed as a name, linked to that page.

Anchor text seems completely unrelated to keywords, but in truth, it’s very closely related. When used properly in combination with your keywords, your anchor text can help you achieve a much higher search engine ranking.

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