In February 2023, Google expanded its SEO Link Best Practices document to provide new guidelines for adequately using anchor text. While the document initially covered tips for creating crawlable links, it now includes recommendations for anchor text placement, formatting internal and external links, and anchor text guidelines. As backlinks and internal links remain vital to SEO, adhering to these best practices is crucial to maintain SERP rankings. Properly formatted internal and external links and generic anchor text with poor placement could help your SEO profile. Therefore, in 2023, it’s more important than ever to create high-quality anchor text and carefully follow the new guidelines outlined in the Anchor Text Google Update.
Understanding Google’s Latest Anchor Text Update
Google Search Central’s SEO fundamentals include a document to guide SEOs in ranking their content on the platform. The guide covers proper formatting of anchor text for hyperlinks and provides guidelines for using internal and external links. These new updates are essential, as they shed light on how anchor text affects search engine optimization for Google. In addition, the document features examples of high-quality anchor text that are descriptive, concise, and avoid keyword stuffing. Anchor text is a critical component of link-building techniques, making it crucial for SEOs to adhere to the guidelines outlined in the document.
Let’s dive into the specifications of the Anchor Text Google Update
Optimizing Your Links for Google’s Crawlers
The original document, which is still accessible through the Wayback Machine, consisted of just one section. It focused on how web developers format their links to ensure Google can crawl and index them.
According to the document, Google’s crawlers will only identify a link with an <a> HTML element, or anchor element, with an href attribute. Without an href attribute, the URL will not be recognized due to script events, and the link will not count toward your SEO profile. Therefore, including an <a> element with an href attribute in all your links is essential to boost your SEO profile.
Using other link formats will not work, as crawlers cannot parse and extract URLs from them. Therefore, sticking to anchor elements and href attributes is crucial to optimize your links for Google’s crawlers.
The Power of Anchor Text in SEO
The following section of the document focuses on the proper placement of anchor text within the code for hyperlinks. If the anchor text is incorrectly placed, it can confuse Google’s crawlers and harm your SEO efforts.
To ensure your anchor text is identified and understood by Google’s crawlers, it should be placed between the crawlable anchor elements. Additionally, the document provides guidelines for formatting alt text for image links. Whenever an image is used as a link, Google will use the alt attribute of the img element as its anchor text. Therefore, writing descriptive alt text for your images is crucial to improve your SEO profile.
Crafting Effective Anchor Text for Better SEO Results
Google’s guidelines for writing anchor text are essential for SEO professionals and content creators as they provide valuable information on the preferred writing style for anchor text by Google’s crawlers. Therefore, adhering to these guidelines can significantly benefit your SEO profile.
Effective anchor text should be concise, descriptive, and relevant to the page it’s on and the one it links to. In addition, it should provide contextual information about the link and give readers an idea of what to expect when clicking it.
By using high-quality anchor text, you can make it easier for Google to crawl your links, which can improve your search engine ranking. Additionally, users can navigate your site more efficiently with well-crafted anchor text.
Internal linking is done right.
In the upcoming section of the document, the focus will be on the approach SEOs should adopt toward internal linking. While backlinks are usually emphasized more in most link-building strategies, having a well-structured system of internal links is indispensable for any website that desires to enhance its online visibility.
The document emphasizes that internal links aid Google in comprehending the website better, which is favorable for your SEO efforts. Additionally, internal links benefit your readers by keeping them engaged in your content loop. By incorporating links to related articles, blogs, and product pages within your content, you can improve key metrics such as bounce rate, dwell time, organic traffic, leads, and conversions.
Essential Guidelines for External Linking
The Anchor Text Google Update focuses on utilizing external links in SEO campaigns. However, it’s worth noting that the update advises against being apprehensive about linking to external websites as it can bolster your credibility, particularly when citing your sources.
When referencing online statistics or facts, it’s recommended to include a link to the source page, provided it’s reliable.
Additionally, the document outlines methods for linking to external pages that you wish to distance from your SEO profile.
Key Learnings from the Anchor Text Google Update
To ensure that Google correctly interprets your links, it’s crucial to adhere closely to their guidelines for formatting anchor text.
This primarily involves using natural language, offering contextual information for your links, and utilizing descriptive phrases while avoiding the practice of keyword stuffing.
Outlined below are the significant adjustments that need to be made to your SEO strategy to comply with these updated guidelines.
- Google’s Default for Missing Anchor Text: The Title Attribute
One crucial observation made in the Anchor Text Google Update is that Google’s crawlers will utilize the title attribute as clickable text in the absence of anchor text.
Thus, if you need to pay attention to including anchor text but have a title attribute for your link, Google will utilize it as the anchor text instead.
- The Risks of Overusing Anchor Text
To achieve optimal results with your anchor text, it’s crucial to keep it brief and straightforward. Lengthy anchor text is likely to confuse Google due to scripting issues. Therefore, when crafting anchor text for your hyperlinks, it’s essential to keep it concise.
Determining the ideal length for your anchor text can be a balancing act, where you aim to balance relevance, descriptiveness, and length. Generally, keep your anchor text between 6-8 words or even shorter if possible.
- Going Beyond Keywords: Using Natural Language
Contrary to popular belief, Google’s algorithm doesn’t reward the use of keywords in your anchor text. Instead, it uses BERT to understand natural language and the intent behind your content.
While in the past, stuffing your anchor text with as many keywords as possible may have been effective, this strategy is no longer viable. This is because Google’s algorithm has undergone numerous updates and now places more emphasis on natural language.
As a result, it’s better to focus on writing anchor text that clearly describes the purpose of your link naturally and concisely rather than cramming it with keywords.
The Anchor Text Google Update has changed how SEOs approach hyperlinks and anchor text. Gone are the days of spammy techniques, such as stuffing anchor text with keywords.
Now, anchor text must meet several guidelines:
- It must be contained within an anchor element (<a>)
- It must be concise, relevant, and descriptive
- It must provide proper context for the linked page
- It must use natural language to describe the purpose of the link
By following these guidelines, you can achieve success with your internal and external links, which will enhance your SEO profile. However, if you write sloppy anchor text or chain links together, you can avoid confusing Google’s crawlers, which can lead to improper parsing of your URLs.
Implementing these guidelines for anchor text and hyperlinking can be a time-consuming process. Alternatively, consider hiring an agency to handle your SEO strategy for you. Our Monthly SEO package includes link-building services and is managed by experts who stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the industry. This way, you can leave the work to the professionals and focus on growing your business.