It’s tempting to use what I call “old standbys” when writing web copy for a suitable Call To Action (CTA).  You’ve seen these words hundreds of times, and you know implicitly what they mean.  Nod in agreement if you’ve seen:

Get more information now – click here.

We have been in the industry for 20 years.  We’re a nationally recog…read more…

Our annual event will run from July 4th to July 9th, 2012.  Learn More.

Or, one of my favorite offenders…

“Learn more – click here!”

It seems to make sense – you said read more, so if they want to read more, they’ll click.  You’ve asked them to click here, so they’re going to click. Not necessarily – and Google agrees.

What is Anchor Text?  Check out SEOmoz for examples.

The Disadvantages of Boring, Overused, Vague Anchor Text

When doing search engine optimization, it’s useful to put yourself in the shoes of the search engine. Imagine that your goal is to thoroughly, and in a highly detailed fashion, organize the entire contents of the web in order to provide an excellent search experience for the humans who use your search engine.

Then imagine how frustrating it is that many links in your database that have anchor text of “read more”, “learn more”, “click here” – words that are completely unhelpful for humans, and unhelpful in reaching that goal.

If you don’t help the search engine, it doesn’t help you. For that reason, vague anchor text is generally unrewarded in the search engines.

It’s a Best Practice to Use Subject Matter in Anchor Text

Put yourself in the shoes of the search engine again, and think about how helpful it would be to come across a link that tells you exactly what to expect, and exactly how to index it through the use of keyworded (and relevant) anchor text.

It is like going to a clearance sale where everything is just as discounted as they said it would be and there are no catches to get a good price.  You’ll be more likely to buy if that’s the case.

Comparatively, Google is more likely to reward you if your links are everything you say they will be.

As Google and other search engines’ algorithms for crawling the web have become more refined, they’ve come to expect the same from websites – progress & improvement for the sake of the visitors. Search engines have the expectation that anchor text will be descriptive and relevant to the page that the link directs to.  Their concern is how can to best tell the human – the visitor – what they are about to see.

An example of bad anchor text:

To learn more about our products, click here.

An example of good anchor text:

Buy Custom Parts for Muscle Cars in Speedy’s online store

What You Should Do Next

Open your web browser and visit your website.  How many places can the anchor text be improved around your site?  Take some screenshots & make a list, and forward this article to your web developer (if that’s not you).  Make every offending anchor text better & more useful for both the search engines and Google.   Make sure to monitor Google Analytics to see how this improves search impressions & visitor movement around your site.