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What Are Anchor Links?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 December 2014
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    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Anchor links are useful tool on websites, especially when a web page contains a lot of text on a single page. These links, which may sometimes also be called internal links or page jumps, allow people to click on highlighted text and jump to another part of the page. They can be created fairly easily with some simple coding, and they help improve navigation on a web page.

Many times when people have large single pages they’ll create a page index or table of contents. The index at the top is a perfect place to add anchor links, so that each index entry becomes its own jumping point to another part of the page. This allows people viewing the webpage to click on the index or table of contents section and move immediately to access the material they want, instead of having to scan through numerous sections. Anchor links are commonly user and tend to be preferred by sophisticated Internet users who want to get to applicable material as quickly as possible.

There are numerous ways to create anchor links, and how each programmer does so may largely depend on type of programming options and actual web creation programs or software. Essentially, people using simple HTML must provide an area on the page that is the anchor, or the destination of the jump. The second part of code is the actual link to the anchor. Both parts are required and occur on different parts of the page.

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For instance, if a person has a section of a page titled "How to Cook" they can create this as their anchor. Remember that this is the destination. To send people to the "How To Cook" destination, a programmer would take the title of this section and surround it with the following code <a href="howtocook"> How to Cook</a>. Name of the anchor isn’t all that important, it could be equally named cook, how to, instructions or anything else.

The one time when name does matter is when people must create the link to the anchor. The name of the link in quotations must be an exact match to the name of the anchor. Link code for the page jump looks like this: <a href="#howtocook"> How to Cook</a>, and it should surround the section of text in the index or table of contents that provides the jump. It cannot be stressed enough that programmers must match the link and anchor names specifically. The only difference is that the number sign precedes link name in the jumping point, while anchor code (destinations) lacks the number sign. The names surrounded by the HTML, in between <a> and </a> do not have to match precisely, but it can be a good idea to have them match to avoid confusion.

Once programmers are accustomed to creating anchor links, they should remember to include a link back to the top table of contents or index. This can be important in case someone accidentally jumps to the wrong section or wants to review what other material might be offered on the page. It’s simply easier to jump back to the top then it is to have to scroll back up.

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amohamed
Post 1

Once, in the old days of the Internet, people would create hundreds of invisible anchor links at the footer of a webpage. These were keyword stuffed links. They did this so that they could rank for various keywords and get visibility in search engines for content their page wasn't even about.

But eventually most search engines got wise and began penalizing these types of sites severely. In fact, the punishments were so severe and far reaching that many web developers prefer to never place links at the footer of a webpage, so that the website is not automatically penalized by Google.

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