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Better Anchor Text = Better Search Results

written by John Chow on February 14, 2007

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When linking to other sites, or to other pages within your own site, it is very important to use the most descriptive anchor text possible. Many new webmasters and bloggers just use the words “click here” as their link. This is a mistake.

Google places a higher weight on linked text when it spiders a page. This is why Text Link Ads (aff) advertisers are allowed to choose their own text when linking to their site. With the exception of the SEObook (aff) and Local Search Watch, none of the link advertisers used their company name. For example, Financial RealTime used the anchor Stock News And Quotes and Premier Tax Online used Taxes Prepared Online By CPA.

The main reason link advertisers do this is to rank for their anchor text search terms. Take the case of Cognos with their Business Intelligence link. A check of the Overture keyword selector tool shows there were 53,334 Yahoo searches for that term last month. A search for Business Intelligence shows that Cognos is ranked number six on Google and number four on Yahoo. Judging by the amount of Adwords and Yahoo Search ads on the search results, I say that “Business Intelligence” is a very high priced term. Therefore, you can imagine the value of being listed for free on the organic results.

Now this is all well and good for Cognos, but how does it help me? Well, Google rewards you for using descriptive anchor text as well. Take the case of my review for linkback offer. If you do a search for johnchow.com, you’ll see that all the top results linked to me with descriptive anchor texts. Not one site use “click here” for a link. The best example would be Value Wiki.

While it is very easy to link to something with “click here,” the chance that you’ll rank for that search term is zero (unless you’re a PR10 site like Abobe, Apple or Real.com). Because of this, you should always use a more descriptive anchor text link. This goes double if you’re deep linking to pages on your own site. By constantly using the term “Review My Blog” when linking to my blog reviews, I beat PayPerPost.com for that search term.

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{ 35 comments }

Jake February 14, 2007 at 3:08 pm

Hopefully everyone that reads this blog understands this.

Jon February 14, 2007 at 3:34 pm

Good post! Very cool to be mentioned on JohnChow.com.

(Jon from ValueWiki)

Hannes Johnson February 14, 2007 at 3:51 pm

Yes, the anchor text is crucial when other people are linking to your sites. It’s also important that the anchor text contains words that other people use when searching – no reason to rank high for some term that only 2 people search for per month ;)

Nils February 14, 2007 at 4:09 pm

What’s this? SEO for first graders?

Doug Karr February 14, 2007 at 4:50 pm

I’m not in first grade, nor am I an SEO expert. This was actually news to me! I didn’t realize that anchor text was a factor.

Thanks for the tip, John!

Marc February 16, 2007 at 5:32 am

John’s getting visitors of all skill levels. As a result he’s got to cover a lot of basics and it’s well appreciated. Good solid intro content is some of the most valuable content that we can have out on the net.

For those of us with experience, reading a post like this should be a nice reminder of our basics. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the icing on the cake that we forget about the cake…

Jeremy February 14, 2007 at 4:38 pm

Always nice to tips on how to improve ones sites.

Gdog February 14, 2007 at 5:04 pm

Very interesting tip. I never knew this. Thanks John.

deejay February 14, 2007 at 5:13 pm

thanks for the idea john.

Hannes Johnson February 14, 2007 at 5:20 pm

Hey John, I just noticed that you changed your favicon… nice :) I’ve seen a few site owners using their face as a favicon.

Soon your face will be on thousands of computers when people bookmark your site ;)

Nate W. February 14, 2007 at 5:22 pm

Good tip, John Chow, good tip.

Jeff February 14, 2007 at 6:15 pm

Yes, that is a great way to link.. I started using that practice as well. Also very important is the post slug, or the URL…

I have two posts on my blog which handles exactly that topic of optimizing the content of your blog for better search engine ratings.

Wordpress and Cateogory Names
Wordpress and SEO

Bill February 14, 2007 at 7:18 pm

Yeah, I didn’t even notice until I read your comment.

David Au February 14, 2007 at 7:35 pm

Good & useful info. Thank you.

By the way Happy & Prosperous Chinese New Year !
The Year of the Pig !

Vinay February 14, 2007 at 7:49 pm

I dont get it.
what should be used for the anchor text instead of ‘click here’? The name of the website?

I see that this is basic stuff for many readers but it’s still highly valuable info for others.

John Chow February 15, 2007 at 9:11 am

The best is to use a description of the site of their article title.

RusPlaneta February 14, 2007 at 8:07 pm

Yes, that’s important.

I would add only that
google does not value a link from unrelated site even with good anchor text at all.
For example, linking from the site about roman poetry in non english language
to http://www.johnchow.com is absolutely useless.

Leif Hearne February 15, 2007 at 1:44 am

That is debatable – and most people would disagree with you, at least on the forums that I frequent.

Everything else being equal it’s better to have links to your site from other sites about your topic, but personally I would take a link from a PR10 page about pictures of cats over a PR4 page about web design and SEO any day of the week, and you can guess what I do for business. :)

Rob February 14, 2007 at 8:21 pm

Hello,

im about 30 days from dominating the online dating sites in another language besides english. Im also friends of Olga (russian girl), would it be possible to meet u one on one showing your advice for monotizing the site.

Big fan of your site

cheers
-robert

Ryan February 14, 2007 at 8:52 pm

Very good point made in this post, John. Don’t forget that Google also puts a weight on the relevancy of the surrounding content.

Other than search engine love there’s also a better reason to use a descriptive title for TLA advertisements: so that people will click on them!

People are much more likely to click a link if they’re interested in what’s being offered. Rarely does someone click a link because it has a cool name.

Heywood February 14, 2007 at 10:22 pm

John,

It is posts like this that separate you from all the rest. Great post, great content.
You make it look easy!

David February 14, 2007 at 11:07 pm

hmm…great info, thanks, I always learn something new when I visit your site.

Sonia February 15, 2007 at 12:34 am

This post reminds me something I read on digg a while ago. Some people add a point to make a point and this leaves out an educational element out of their posts. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. So it really depends on how you look at it. Sometimes adding a little bit of explanation won’t hurt anyone and I’m all in for that. Just bragging :b

John Hood February 15, 2007 at 1:55 am

Admittedly I’ve been somewhat inconsistent with this linking methodology! However, I’ll be following John’s advice, verbatim, from here on!

Nuker February 15, 2007 at 7:31 am

Quite funny, I just wrote something about SEO :p But I didn’t knew this had any effects.

Leftblank February 15, 2007 at 7:34 am

Well written John, youré totally right. Something that is not totally related but still incredible to see, is the amount of people who still write things as ‘click here to visit website y’ rather than putting the anchor over the website name itself, doing it like that you don’t disrupt your story and it’s more intuitive to the reader as it’s directly clear what you’re looking to.

Nomar February 15, 2007 at 8:21 am

great explanation !!

mister scruff February 16, 2007 at 2:39 pm

anchor text big about a year or two ago, but now relevancy in Google is big. very big.

linking to a tech site from your Latin Poetry site wont give that tech site much of Google linky love boost.

having lots of non-relevant sites linking to yours using good anchor text can actually *damage* your Google serps.

Google actually have a full time webspam team – check out Matt Cutt’s blog for the info on this and other things.

But John’s overall point is right – if you are a Latin poetry site and wanna link to another Latin poetry site – dont use “click here” or “more info” or “over here”. Describe what you are linking to like this:

Andrew Smith has released a new book on Latin poetry entitled The Best Works of Cicero and its available to purchase from his Fantastic Latin site. Be sure to check it out.

mister scruff February 16, 2007 at 2:45 pm

testing testing 123… (submitted a comment but it didnt go through)

mister scruff February 16, 2007 at 2:49 pm

what i meant to say is that relevancy is huge in Google right now. Anchor text was all the rage previously, but Google has clamped down (or tried to) hard on link farms and googlebombs.

You wont give johnchow.com much Google link love if your site is to do with Latin poetry. And in reverse – if you have lots of tech sites linking to your Latin poetry site, that can actually *damage* your Google serps, as it will appear to Google algorithms as if you are involved in a link farm.

mister scruff February 16, 2007 at 2:57 pm

but i’d like to add that John’s previous statements about “live by google , die by google” is spot on. Dont depend on the google serps. A visit over to the Google forums at webmasterworld.com is proove positive of that. (“hey i was earning $10k last month, now its down to $500 and i’ve had to lay off staff…”). Build your brand. Build your content. Serps are nice – but user bookmarks are even better, in the long term. His statement on anchor text is correct,but you have to be aware that its not everything (hence my latin poetry example…). “click here” is definitely a big no-no nowadays.

Targeted Web Traffic February 19, 2007 at 12:17 am

Thanks for this great article, nice read.

Webmaster Labor February 19, 2007 at 12:43 am

My quick addition to this: when determining which keywords to use for your anchor text, consult with Overture’s keyword selector tool. http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion/ While this is NOT a perfect tool (there are other paid services out there), it is FREE and does give one a semblance of how people search your terms online.

One more tip: When it comes to keywords, most of the time “less is more”. Sure it may sound like a tired Taoist mantra from the 60′s but it is very true. Why get slaughtered by your competition shooting for the “big” keywords when building a large network that snares the traffic from tons of “smaller” words will do?

To paraphrase Sun Tzu-win your battles before you lift a finger.

Joneh March 1, 2007 at 11:45 pm

thanks so much. this category is a must to every newbie like me. i come to this site once a month but whenever im here, i end up reading like 1 week direct. geez. thats addcitive! thanks John!

Rob O. March 3, 2007 at 5:13 pm

Good info here but what about the TITLE tag in your links? I like the little extra info that it gives a reader about the link they’re about to click.

And it seems like I had read that the TITLE attribute (both in link and image tags) also boost your site’s searhability. Can anyone confirm this?