Keywords phrases in linking text

by Philip Webb on 1 October 2005

Often simple things really matter. And the use of keywords in linking text is one of those simple things that turn out to be hugely important. Linking text, sometimes called anchor text, is the clickable text that takes people to another page or resource. You need to choose that text carefully.

If I was refer people to this article I could use the linking text, ‘Latest article’: the text is meaningful, clear and wouldn't need to change every time I published a new article. However, I'd be missing out on some important opportunities. Using the actual title of the article, ‘Keyword phrases in linking text’, is a much better option.

The importance of keyword-rich link text

It's important to place keyword phrases into linking text for two reasons:

  • Keyword rich text is more attractive to humans. A casual reader may see ‘Latest article’ and say so what? By using the title ‘Keyword phrases in linking text’ I've told the visitor what the article is about and offered two hooks that they might be interested in - ‘keyword phrases’ and ‘linking text’. As a result the click through rate will be higher.
  • The text that links to a particular page gives Google and other search engines clues as to what the page is about. ‘Latest article’ provides little information while the actual title of the newsletter contains at least two important keyword phrases.

In highly competitive situations the extra ‘points’ that Google gives can mean the difference from appearing on the first page of results and appearing nowhere.

To embark on an effective link building campaign you must be aware of your important keyword phrases and incorporate them into your titles and linking text. You also need to influence the words external webmasters use to link to you.

Title text

Including keywords in title text is attractive to human visitors as well as being a fundamental search engine marketing tactic. Your title also has the opportunity to influence the words that an external webmaster may use when linking to your site. Title text is the tooltip that appears when you mouse over a link - try it with this example: Link.

If your title is meaningful and useful, another webmaster is likely copy it, or at least edit it rather than go to the trouble of creating their own linking text.

Linking text

There are two types of linking text to consider - internal and external. As far as Google is concerned, internal and external linking text are both important.

The internal linking text that you use is completely within your control so you have opportunities to use keyword rich linking text. Yet many people overlook this and use lazy phrases such as ‘home’, ‘click here’ and ‘read more’. Avoid these phrases and use keyword rich linking text instead.

Introducing variety into linking text is also a good tactic. Good writing in English uses a variety of different ways to say the same thing and keep the reader interested. Likewise in linking text, use variety. This keeps readers interested and also provides additional information for search engines.

External linking text

This is the linking text that sits on external sites and links to your website. You may think that you're at the mercy of other webmasters in how they link to your site, but there are many situations where you cancontrol the external text that links to you:

  • Reciprocal links where you can ask for specific linking text to be used
  • Directory listings where you have editorial control and can specify the exact linking text that points to your site
  • Listing on subsidiary and partner sites
  • In bylines to articles that you publish where you may be allowed to specify not only the linking text but the text that surrounds the link
  • Links that you buy will always allow you to specify linking text and will nearly always allow you extra descriptive text

After that you do depend on how individual webmasters decide to link to your site. The best way to influence this is to write good titles and linking text in the first place. Then all the webmaster has to do is to cut and paste.

Even if the webmaster decides to write his own text, what you have written will influence how he does that and at least some of your keyword phrases are likely to be included.

Finding Keyword Phrases

To help determine your most effective keyword phrases, you can use the excellent Wordtracker service. Initially, this may seem like a lot of work but the benefits can be tremendous. If you plan methodically and practice, using keyword phrases in your linking text will become second nature - and a highly effective way of engaging your website visitors and boosting your search engine results.

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