Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

The Importance of Inbound Link Anchor Text for Your SEO

Let’s talk about how important anchor text is on your inbound links from other websites.

First off, what is anchor text?

Links to websites or other pages are usually formatted differently from the rest of the text in a sentence or paragraph so they stand out. Anchor text is simply the word or words you can click on the follow the link.

An illustration of anchor text.

And it’s more important than you might think.

Two critical factors govern where you rank in search results

Where you rank in any search engine is essentially a function of two variables, relevance and reputation. Relevance has to do with how relevant your page is for the keyword being searched. This is what classic on-page SEO addresses: keyword relevance in your content. The other variable is reputation, which search engines essentially measure by your inbound link profile. This is often termed off-page SEO.

A link with a keyword in the anchor text helps on both accounts.

Inbound link reputation value

Authority is a term used to indicate the likelihood of a page ranking well in Google, irrespective of the search term. It’s a measure of the importance of a page. The most common metric is from Moz, called Page Authority and it’s designed to mimic Google’s internal PageRank.

Every page on the web has its own Page Authority, on a scale of 1-100. In simple terms, the more inbound links your page has, the higher its Page Authority. When a web page links to you, it gives your page a fraction of its own Page Authority. So a link from a high authority page is worth many times as much to you as a link from a low authority page.

Inbound link relevance value

Some have alleged that what other web sites say in their links to you matters more than what’s actually on your web site. I don’t believe that’s true, but a famous prank clearly illustrates the power of anchor text.A classic Google Bomb perpetrated against President George W. Bush.

During the administration of George W. Bush a technique called Google Bombing emerged. If you did a search for “miserable failure” or “worst president”, the #1 result in the search engines was the official biography of President George W. Bush.


If you had gone to President Bush’s biography and searched for the word “miserable” or the word “worst” you wouldn’t have found either one anywhere on the page. So why did Google think that page was really about those search terms?

Apparently, many bloggers had created links that pointed to President Bush’s biography and said “miserable failure” and “worst president” in the anchor text . Since those words weren’t on his bio page, the #1 result people found in Google was driven entirely by anchor text.

Here’s the moral of the story

Don’t request a link just for the authority value. Make sure you have keywords in the anchor text, too.

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