Anchor text (alternative terms: link text or reference text) is the text of a hyperlink. Anchor texts are often highlighted or underlined so that the clickable text elements differ from the rest of a text. Anchor texts play an important role in the internal and external linking as well as for the usability of a website.
How it works
Clicking on a link text redirects you to a destination address which is stored in the HTML code as an attribute. The link can either refer to a document within the same domain (internal link), or to a page on a different domain (external link). The anchor text and destination address are specified separately in a hyperlink. Only the descriptive link text is shown on the internet page. The destination address remains hidden in the text flow. Here, a text that is as descriptive as possible should be used as the anchor text since this determines the reader’s expectation of the hyperlink.
Relation between destination address and link text in the anchor tag – as a source code:
Reference to SEO
Search engines, such as Google, evaluate the linking of a websites and usually use the contents of the link texts as a ranking criteria. One of the many objectives of Google is to differentiate between an artificial setup of backlinks (inbound links to one website from another) and natural link building. Among other things, Google uses the link texts to analyze these backlinks.
The Penguin Update in April 2012 introduced a new algorithm to Google that detects an excessive misuse of keywords (keyword stuffing) in link texts. As a result, websites should be penalized using Google Penguin, e.g., through downgrading in the ranking. Rather than having general anchor texts reduced to a few simple keywords, catch-phrases or sentences that describe the content of the links in more detail should be used.
Anchor texts can also be misused by third parties, such as Google Bombing, to damage the reputation of another website.
There is no limit to the design of anchor texts for internal linking, since no Google filter can be used here. Rather, it is recommended to use the anchor texts for controlling Link Juice and to make it easier for search engines to assign topics within a website. The purposeful use of anchor texts for internal links can lead to improved rankings for certain keywords. An important guideline for using Anchor texts for internal links is that the same link texts are always used for a URL. This means, for example, that the same keyword is always linked internally for a subpage. In combination with the Keyword Focus, the internal linking with optimized reference texts is an important element of the OnPage Optimization.