6 Types of Anchor Text and How They Affect SEO Rankings

Links may be one of the most critical factors in determining your site’s SEO rankings, but have you ever stopped to consider that Google and others may also be looking at your anchor text? Anchor texts are those little words that you use to link to the site on your webpage. Ahrefs conducted a study of 384,614 webpages, and what they discovered may cause you to stop worrying about this ranking factor.

There are six different anchor text types that you should consider using on your site. To explain the six different types, we are going to assume that the keyword phrase that we want to rank for is ‘digital marketing agency in Thailand’. Understanding the six different types is essential for anchor text optimization, and they are

  • Exact match

This is the exact word or phrase that you want to rank for on your website. In our scenario, the exact match anchor text would be ‘digital marketing agency in Thailand’.

  • Phrase match 

This type of anchor text contains the exact phrase that you want to rank for, but it also contains extra words. In the scenario, the anchor text might be ‘the best digital marketing agency in Thailand’.

  • Branded 

This type of anchor text is your brand’s name. In our scenario, let’s assume the company name is  Digital Thailand, and that is what is used as the anchor text.

  • Naked URL 

These anchor texts are the URL where you want to send someone. In our case, this type of anchor text might be “https://digitalthailand.com/.

  • Random 

Anchor texts of this type are random words that you are not trying to rank for at all. ‘Click here’, ‘learn more here’ and ‘get details here’ are some examples.

  • Image links 

These are the alt text links the website uses to create their images.

Google’s Algorithm

If you go back to the earliest Google pages that have not been updated, you will find links pointing to irrelevant pages to get them to rank. For example, you might have 10 links with the anchor text digital marketing agency in Thailand, but if you followed them, you would find a page about American saddlebred horses.

Enter Penguin

In April 2012, Google put a stop to this practice by rolling out the first Penguin update to the company’s algorithm. The aim of that algorithm was exact match anchor texts, but there have been more recent updates affecting anchor texts.

The Anchor Text Study

With all the updates, Ahrefs felt it was time to retest what anchor test work best, so they looked at 384,614 and considered the top 20 search results for 19,840 keywords. After controlling for numerous factors that could skew the results, like numeric keywords, special characters in keywords, and insufficient monthly searches, they arrived at some interesting conclusions.

The Anchor Text Study Results

There is a weak positive correlation between using exact match keywords as anchor texts and positive placings on search engine result pages. There is also a very weak correlation between the use of partial match anchor texts and how well a site places on search engine result pages. This finding makes sense when you consider that the exact match and partial match contain the keyword that you are trying to rank in your digital marketing. At the same time, there is no correlation between random anchor texts and rankings on search engine result pages.

What Anchor Text Should You Use?

While Google still indicates that there may be some correlation between the anchor text and your search engine result page listing, this large study suggests that the relationship is so weak that it should not control how you create anchor texts. Instead, focus on creating pages that use other SEO for website strategies and are useful to your target audience and watch your placings move up.

About the Author


Patrick Watt is a content writer, writing in several areas, primarily in business growth, value creation, M&A, and finance. Other interests also include content marketing and self-development. Say hi to Patrick on Twitter @patrickwattpat.

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