Anchor Text vs. Linking Name to Anchor: The Difference and Why It Matters

There are many different linking practices a small business can use to improve SEO, so it’s important to keep track of all the different terminology. Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy. Once you get past the most popular types of linking—internal versus external links and your on-page versus off-page links/backlinks—you see a lot of confusion.  You can’t always substitute one term for another term, but it’s a common mistake.

So what’s the biggest linking switch-up that can get your small business in trouble? The terms “link anchor text” versus “linking to name anchor.” It sounds like they must mean the same thing, but this is a dangerous assumption.

The Difference Between Anchor Text and Linking Name to Anchor

These two terms mean entirely different things when it comes to link building, so whether you’re looking to give advice or build a more diverse linking profile, the difference matters. Consider the two terms below:

Link Anchor Text

Of the two terms, this is the term that most understand best (and oftentimes confuse the other term with this term). This refers to the link that you see attached to a word or phrase, the anchor text, on a website. In other words, people are able to click this link and then get directed to a different page. Consider the following example:

Example: If I wanted to link back to our company, Monitor Backlinks, a statement might look like this: “Visit Monitor Backlinks to help keep track of your link portfolio.” The anchor text here is “Monitor Backlinks,” and “” is the link that is attached to that text that you can click.

A good way to really see the differences between these two terms is through the tag (or what it looks like from the backend of a website. You can learn the specifics of coding and where to put this tag here, but below is a quick look at the tag so you can see the difference:

Monitor Backlinks

The purpose of this type of link is to send readers to another relevant page. If your article focuses on one concept and you mention something that might be confusing, you can use the link to anchor to send readers to a page where they can learn more about that confusing topic.

Linking Name to Anchor

This is the term that many small businesses tend to forget, but it can serve an important purpose. This type of linking looks very similar to the type of linking discussed above, but it doesn’t take readers to an entirely different webpage. This type of linking will send readers to another spot on that same page. Consider the following example:

Example: If you look at a Wikipedia page, you will oftentimes see that there are different categories (usually a table of contents) with links where you can click. If you take alook at Wikipedia Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (a personal favorite band), you see at the top of the page a table of contents that has links to Career, Band Members, References, etc. Click a link and you’re at that section of the page. If you don’t want to, just scroll down and you get the same thing.

The tag for this type of link is, again, very similar to the link discussed above (is it becoming clear why these get mixed up so often?). The tag looks like this:

Monitor Backlink

This type of linking is great because it helps make things easy for readers. If you have a webpage with a lot of content, it makes it possible to avoid all of that scrolling to get to different sections.

The Takeaway: These two linking terms and types of linking are not going anywhere, so now is a great time to start understanding the differences. It will help you get a better outlook on your linking strategy and keep you inline with the pros.