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Imagine that you’re out surfing the web for a new point-and-shoot, and you stumble upon some really awesome blog post that you want to share on your own blog. You copy the link and write a sentence that goes something like, “I just found this killer roundup of point-and-shoot cameras used by the pros – check it out here!”
While we definitely appreciate the fact that you shared our post on your blog, the link isn’t as valuable as it could be in terms of SEO.
The reason is simple: crappy anchor text.
What is anchor text?
It’s the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink, and is usually blue and underlined. A link that would have incorporated better anchor text in the example above is digital point-and-shoot cameras used by pros. If you Google the term “digital point-and-shoot cameras”, you’ll see that PhotoShelter’s blog post on this topic is in the top results (under all the darn ads and shopping results, of course).
Part of the reason that post ranks so highly on the search engine result page (SERP) is that 142 backlinks point to it. You already know the importance of backlinks in building good SEO, but it’s really important to understand that there are links, and then there are GREAT links. A great link is one that uses anchor text that matches or is related to the terms on your keyword hit list.
Why is anchor text so important?
Remember that search engines are just robots at the end of the day, and they need your help in figuring out what your website is all about. If someone links to your website with the anchor text “click here”, that tells the search engines nothing. But if they link to your site with something like “Washington DC stock photos”, then the search engines have a better idea that your website is about Washington DC stock photos and thus your site is relevant to someone who searches for that term.
Just like on-page SEO, we have to do everything in our power to make search engines see that our website is relevant to the keywords that we’re trying to rank for. Getting backlinks to your website with relevant anchor text is also like giving your site a vote of confidence from the Internet world. Imagine that when Google scans your site, it looks for backlinks as a sign that other people trust your website and what it’s about.
How do I get the anchor text I want?
Anchor text is like an extra boost for your SEO – as if saying to Google that not only do other people like and trust your site enough to link to it, but they also all agree that it’s about Washington DC stock photos (or whatever your keyword terms may be).
Problem is, not everyone understands this concept, and so plenty of people will link to you with bad anchor text. You might have to be a little pushy. If you know that someone is blogging about you, or if you’re contributing as a guest blogger, be explicit: ask that when they credit you, to please link to sports photojournalist Jamey Price, for example. It might seem silly, but it’s your best bet in guaranteeing that you get the right anchor text and benefit most from the link.
We try to help boost photographers’ SEO on the PhotoShelter Blog by linking to their websites with good anchor text.
People who are clued in about anchor text will often look to your page title for keywords that you would want included in your link. They can easily find this by opening your website and hovering over the tab. So there’s one more reason to pay attention to your page title.
Now that you understand the importance of relevant anchor text, you might be asking yourself if there’s an equivalent for your images. There is, and it’s called the ALT attribute (see the SEO For Photographers guide). Ensure that the ALT attributes for your images include your keywords, since this is what search engines read when they come across an image. Whether it’s on your own blog or your comfortable sharing your photos on other websites, the right ALT attribute is just as important as relevant anchor text when getting a backlink
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