SEO Extent


Does Google Count Optimized Anchor Text as a Ranking Factor?

Do you think optimized anchor text is a search engine ranking factor? If you have spent some time in the SEO industry (whether a newbie or a veteran), you know what anchor text is and how it matters. Anchor text is the text (a word or a phrase) in the page content that links to another section on the same page or a different page altogether. It is mostly a different page of your own website. And optimized anchor text is the anchor text that contains the target keywords or phrases.

So, you understand this very well, right? Anchor text is not new for you, but what is your understanding about the role anchor text actually has to play in search engine ranking? Do you know whether optimized anchor text has an impact on the search engine results or not? If you ask me, I don’t want to give you a direct ‘yes or no’ answer now because I don’t have a direct answer to this. Let me make a discussion with you in which we will explore a few different ideas related to the use of anchor text, learn some of the important things around the very topic and try to find out an answer with proof.

Further in this post, we are going to have that broad discussion and explore a few important points about anchor text optimization, so read on.

Anchor text provides information to the users

When you optimize your anchor text, you mostly include one or multiple target keywords in it. This is what provides enough information to the users about the page they are going to visit after clicking on the link. The direct keywords used in the anchor text tell probably everything about the content of the linked page. So, since the users are getting some useful information about the page pointed by the link it’s safe to say that anchor text can send some signals to the search engines about the linked page as well. In fact, it does send signals to the search engines for sure. It’s up to the search engines whether they use that signal to rank the linked page or not.

We know the fact that search engines, and Google in particular, wants to display the best possible results to the searchers on the search pages, so since anchor text provides information or context to the users Google must be considering anchor text as a ranking signal. This is an interlinked concept. Those elements that are helping users in finding their exact and accurate websites can easily be the popular ranking factors for the search engines. So, since keyword-rich anchor text makes the life of the users easy, search engines are naturally going to like the concept of anchor text.

Therefore, as per this initial observation anchor text could be a ranking factor.

But, this is just an observation or a basic understanding, which is not been proved yet. There are more aspects of it that we are going to study next.

Popular belief: “Anchor text is a search engine ranking factor.”

Based on the results we see after including proper target search terms in the anchor text, we all have a belief that optimized anchor text does impact the search engine ranking. Of course search engines have hundreds or probably thousands of ranking factors, and optimized anchor text could definitely be one of them. Only search engines can give the official confirmation of the same, but this has been a popular belief amongst all SEOs for a long time that using keywords in anchor text improves search engine ranking.

Anyone who is new to SEO is taught to make the anchor text keyword-rich. They are taught to add keywords to the content, to the meta data, to the Alt tags used for images and to the anchor text used in links. It is believed that keyword-rich anchor text helps search engines in associating page URLs with the target search terms. Therefore, keyword-rich anchor text is believed to be a popular ranking factor.

And this is specifically why we create optimized anchor text by including our target keywords in the anchor text. We anticipate that search engine bots, while scanning through the page content, will get to see the target keywords in the anchor text and rank the linked page for those keywords. So, optimizing anchor text by including target keywords to them has been used as a good SEO practice for the past many years now. This practice also brings in some positive results in terms of ranking even if we’re not 100% sure whether search engines consider optimized anchor text as a ranking factor or not.

We are going to learn our personal experience regarding this next.

Our personal experience and realization

Let’s talk about some personal experience now. Since the time I entered the world of digital marketing and SEO I’ve been noticing the fact that on-page update has a huge role to play in boosting the search engine ranking.

Within our agency, as soon as we finalize the target keywords for a particular website and complete the on-page update based on those target keywords, there is a quick improvement in the search rankings. Majority of the websites we work on get found on the search results and jump straight to the search pages (8th page, 10th page or something like that in the initial days) from the NOT FOUND state only after the on-page update. This is the power of on-page SEO. And optimized anchor text has always been a vital part of the on-page SEO for my SEO support team.

We do take care of the meta data, content, image alt text, header tags etc. while doing the complete on-page SEO, and this anchor text has a special contribution. When optimizing the anchor text for SEO we make sure all the target keywords are included in the text and we also look after the inbound and outbound links. We don’t simply stuff the target keywords in the content, meta data, alt text and anchor text as they are because that won’t be a user-friendly way of using target keywords in the content. We do a bit of research to find a good way of incorporating the keywords and give a natural meaning to the content as well. Same applies to the anchor text. We try to optimize the anchor text that would be suitable for the readers and Google bots alike.

So, the point is anchor text has always been a search engine ranking factor for us as we notice a good improvement in the keyword positioning immediately after doing the anchor text optimization. That is our personal experience. I’m not sure if you have a completely different story to tell in this context but for us, yes, optimized anchor text has always been a search engine ranking factor.

Evidence or Proof collected from various sources

Now, this is the most important step. Here, I’ll share some important proof or evidence I’ve studied from a few difference sources available on the internet while doing my prep work for this post.

Proof #1: Search engines, particularly Google, likes to rank websites that offer the best user experience. Using keyword-rich anchor text for links does contribute to the overall user experience because it allows the readers to know what they would and should read next. Anchor text and links provide more information to the readers, so they help boost the user experience of the particular page or site. This is specifically why Google would consider optimized anchor text as one of the major ranking factors.

Proof #2: I read a complete article published on Reboot written by their own content researchers. They have to say, outgoing links are great for the page and the site’s ranking. But, those links must point to pages with higher authority. So, ranking out scheme should be used correctly to help a page prosper in the search results. This is indirectly going in favor of the popular belief and SEO best practice that optimized anchor text does have a positive impact on the search engine ranking.

Proof #3: According to MOZ, “SEO-friendly anchor text is relevant to the target page (i.e., the page it’s linking to).”  Rich anchor text is definitely a good ranking signal as it’s included in several Google patents. But generic anchor text such as ‘click here’ is a poor bad SEO practice.

Proof #4: Our own experience working with different projects is probably the biggest proof of all. We do follow keyword-rich anchor text religiously and we get desired results. It always works for us, so yes, optimized anchor text is a search engine ranking factor.

What about you? Do you use this optimized anchor text as an SEO practice for your clients? I’m sure you must be doing this and getting some ranking boost as well. Let us know if you notice any quick gain in ranking by using keyword-rich anchor text, and what other SEO practices you follow to get results for your clients. Knowledge grows by sharing!

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