There are various rumours about the effect of anchors on SEO. Which of them are truthful and which are not, we will find it out in this article. But first, let’s go through the theory.
Anchor (hash link) is a bookmark link, which, when clicked, forces the server to redirect page to the desired page or “anchored” place.
The name “hash-link” is used because it includes the symbol “#”. This symbol also tells the browser that the part of the URL following it is an identifier or the named anchor of the HTML page to be displayed in the window.
Anchors are used to organizing navigation within the pages overloaded with content.
For example, with anchor tags, an organized list of elements can be created. Each element of the anchor tag can be clicked and redirect the user immediately to the desired page or section of the page.
Anchors are placed in the HTML-code of the page as part of title tags or any other elements.
At the same time, the hash links that lead to them are no different from the usual ones, except that # and the name of the anchor are added to the URL.
<a href=”https://f5-studio.com/page-name#link-to”>Some text here</a>
In this example, “link-to” is the anchor of the h3 header (identifier) within the page whose address is specified in the link.
By the way, if you don’t enter anything after the “#” sign, you’ll get the simplest version of the “Up” button that scrolls the page to the very beginning.
The ratio of search engines to the use of hash links
Moving on to clarifying the impact of anchors on SEO. It is known that search engines do not take into account the part of the URL that comes after the “#” symbol: only the browsers “understand” the anchors.
Therefore, if you use hash links on your site, in particular in the aforementioned example about the table of contents of a long article, for search engines this will look like several consecutive identical links (albeit with different anchors) to the same page where they are located.
As a result, you might think that they will be perceived by search engines as circular references, the presence of which, especially in large numbers, is highly undesirable. This is one reason why anchors have a negative impact on SEO.
But modern search engines are not so stupid – having found several links with the hash symbol (#) on one page, they consider only the first one as a regular link, and the rest are ignored. In addition, Search Engines know that anchors are used to facilitating user navigation. Therefore, if you use hash links on the pages of websites with a large amount of content, this can have a positive effect on the behaviour of visitors, making it much easier for them to find the right places in the “information sheet”. And, as you know, good behavioural factors are one of the main conditions for effective SEO promotion.
The reason why Search Engines do not take into account everything that comes after the hash(#) is that if they perceived the URL with anchors as different links, the same page would be indexed under different addresses, which will result in duplication of content! It is, therefore, easier for search engines to ignore hash links than to index them and penalize websites that use anchors.
Should I use hash links?
Recently it has become trendy to use hash links on one-page websites. The header can contain a menu whose elements do not actually refer to other pages but merely to different sections of the same page.
There is an opinion about the positive impact of anchors on SEO in the case of landings pages, that supposedly you can even register several h1 headers on the same page (for each block) and the search engines will figure it out themselves, which is why they find this useful for one-page visitors.
However, this is only an unconfirmed assumption. All the same, it is not recommended to use more than one h1 within one page.
In conclusion, excessive use of anchors has a negative impact on SEO and should be avoided unless it is the reason for doing so is really valid. For example for the improvement of visitors’ navigation through pages with a large amount of content is pursued.