Anchor text (the text in a link) and anchor text optimization (a facet of SEO), provides webmasters with a unique opportunity to sculpt a preferential or tiered pecking order.
Using keyword-rich anchor text cultivates continuity with search engines as well as assists human visitors (the ones that pay the bills) in understanding which characteristics are expected on the destination page. If a link says blue shoes, then would expect to see blue shoes if they clicked it.
To search engines, keywords incubate context; so, by linking to a page enough times with a specific keyword, those links will earmark that page as a destination for those keywords.
A page with 100 internal pages linking to it and 25 inbound links from other websites, makes that page a candidate for the keywords contained in the links.
Depending on how structured the on page elements are, such as the title, meta description, if there are synonyms that create additional context within the on page content determine how that page fares in the search engine results pages.
By linking to a specific page multiple times, it produces a type of topical coherence (like a road map or blueprint) that shares its purpose with the rest of the website.
How do you get the most out of links?
Much like a table of contents, the link graph within a website determines which pages correspond specifically to what topic or keywords.
Wikipedia is a prime example of consistent naming conventions that follow a logical progression of internal linking and co-occurrence (every time a word appears, it links to one specific page). As a result, Wikipedia results are often found with double rankings at the helm of virtually any keyword.
By theming your internal links, it increases keyword potency and unlocks and inherent ranking factor in your site architecture which translates into increases in search engine rankings.
Ideally you should have a threshold which proportionately dials-in your main keyword first, by linking from your strongest pages first (such as a homepage or other highly trafficked page).
Then, you can use other aspects of on page optimization (such as alt attributes in images, secondary navigation, sitemaps or external links) to create a holistic profile for each preferred landing page in your website.
Applying Optimized Anchor Text
For example, if I have product pages that contain multiple colors for a specific product, it is only natural that on the red model page there might be links to the blue model, the black model, the yellow model, etc.
By using the modifier (the color) and providing links to the other models (with the color as the anchor text/link) such as black laptop computer, your page still gets credit for the root phrase (which in this instance is laptop computer).
By varying the array of inbound and internal links, you can create keyword stemming for each page so it can rank for multiple variations any time a search engine can latch on to an individual or paired keyword based on the elements on that page.
This could mean an instance in the title, another keyword instance in the meta tags and an instance of a third keyword on the page itself somewhere in the body text could be significant enough to produce a direct hit from a search query (based on how reputable and topically themed your website is).
In addition, if you linked to the black laptop page from another segment of the website with additional anchor text such as Apple, Toshiba, or Dell and the suffix laptop computer and incorporated those keywords into the title or meta description; you have effectively created a feedback loop of pertinent data that unifies the subject of the page.
If someone search for black apple laptop computer in a search engine, since you have internal links referencing that page with color specific inbound links (black, red, blue, etc.) and anchor text via internal links pointing at that same page with manufacturer/brand keyword modifiers; the cross-pollination of relevance from the links produces a hybrid ranking.
This hybrid/fusion of links to the destination page allows that page to rank higher with less dependency on off page ranking factors (links from other sites).
If you just had an “aha” moment, we understand. The gravity implied by this statement is immense; essentially, your own website can produce its own ranking factor and authority from internal links.
Just like the first example above, with additional links, the same page could even rank for the keywords Apple Computer, Dell Computer, Toshiba Laptop, etc. based on the strength of the page or the domain if cultivated properly.
The more internal links you can develop from relevant pages within your website to other relevant pages reinforces a logical array of naming conventions that correspond with what a person might type to find your product or service.
SEO involves optimizing your on page content to correspond to as many potential keywords that would mirror a motivated buyers search behavior.
Although the premise of anchor text optimization seems rudimentary, it is one of the most significant and powerful SEO techniques that you can implement (from the start) instead of having to go back and fix sub-optimal link architecture after the fact.