Anchor Text No Longer The Holy Grail For Google Rankings?

30 replies
  • SEO
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For years the primary advice for SEO was to build more backlinks, especially ones with exact match anchor text.

After this latest 'Panda' update I searched for a few commercial terms like 'buy red widgets online.' I noticed a common theme. Most of the backlinks contained the brand only. So the site called 'My Widgets' would be linked to like that. Google seemed to place more emphasis on words in the surrounding context, and a high value on branded, 'natural' links.

Do you think this observation is correct? I only did a handful of searches, so nothing to impressive.

If this is true, wouldn't broad match or branded anchor text be preferred now?

What is your take?
#anchor #google #grail #holy #longer #rankings #text
  • Profile picture of the author MaverickUK
    Can't say I've noticed it. I'm still ranking sites in competitive niches, so that's all I care about
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  • Profile picture of the author dp40oz
    You observations about what you saw are correct but thats not to say that anchor text isn't still as valuable. Its easier to rank a page when you link to it with "buy red widgets online" but thats not to say you can't rank for it with "my widgets" as anchor text.

    What I have found is if you have ten links lets say with anchor text about widgets of some type, then once you get 1 link referring to "red widgets" Google will notice that correlation and give you a good boost for red widget search terms. I still don't really think though that non anchored text surrounding the link plays much of a part at all though.
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    • Profile picture of the author mosthost
      Originally Posted by dp40oz View Post

      You observations about what you saw are correct but thats not to say that anchor text isn't still as valuable. Its easier to rank a page when you link to it with "buy red widgets online" but thats not to say you can't rank for it with "my widgets" as anchor text.

      What I have found is if you have ten links lets say with anchor text about widgets of some type, then once you get 1 link referring to "red widgets" Google will notice that correlation and give you a good boost for red widget search terms. I still don't really think though that non anchored text surrounding the link plays much of a part at all though.
      Check out the search for "buy green tennis shoes." The number two ranked company is almost primarily linked to as their brand "Simply Shoes."

      What's interesting is that they're linked to from many eco-friendly, aka "Green" websites.

      Looking at their on-page and off-page factors briefly, it appears that anchor text plays a small role in their ranking.
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  • Profile picture of the author Derek_Gehl
    Post Panda anchor text is still an important factor but how you should use it has changed slightly...

    Before Panda simply having tons of backlinks with the same keyword in the anchor text would get you ranked well for that keyword (assuming that the site was relevant, etc.) but post Panda you do not want to have too many links all with the same anchor text.

    In order for your backlink efforts to pass the Google "sniff test" your overall link profile needs to look 'natural'. But if you have 1000 backlinks and 500 of those links all have the exact same anchor text Google will know this is not natural.

    So now you want to vary they keywords used in your anchor text and remember latent semantic indexing is also applied to anchor text so you can use all sorts of related keywords and Google is going to figure it out.

    Plus it's no longer just about the anchor text... Google is also looking at the content of the page containing the backlink so if the content around the link is completely irrelevant then this will decrease the value of the link as well.

    Bottom line is having related keywords and phrases in the anchor text is valuable but your overall link profile needs to look 'natural' which means there should be a variation in anchor text across the entire profile.
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    • Profile picture of the author dragonblogger
      Funny, but I do see it becoming more true. With Google Plus becoming more relevant to get content to show better in SERP if users in your circles have +1'd it, it may be that buying AdWords in the future may be the only good way to get ranked unless you have massive social networks and get as many +1 as you do backlinks.
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      • Profile picture of the author mosthost
        Originally Posted by dragonblogger View Post

        Funny, but I do see it becoming more true. With Google Plus becoming more relevant to get content to show better in SERP if users in your circles have +1'd it, it may be that buying AdWords in the future may be the only good way to get ranked unless you have massive social networks and get as many +1 as you do backlinks.
        It could be. Since Google is no longer supplying referrers on logged in search, you now need Adwords to find out how people are getting to your pages.

        It seems like social signals are rising in importance.

        Despite this, many people still think link building is the road to riches! The best bet is to make sure you cover all bases: build high quality content, gain backlinks, and push your content socially.
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      • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
        Originally Posted by dragonblogger View Post

        Funny, but I do see it becoming more true. With Google Plus becoming more relevant to get content to show better in SERP if users in your circles have +1'd it, it may be that buying AdWords in the future may be the only good way to get ranked unless you have massive social networks and get as many +1 as you do backlinks.
        You are missing one important point there. Nobody has any friends on Google+.
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  • Profile picture of the author MaverickUK
    Some people are seemingly forgetting the power of link juice. I have an authority website that has over a thousand back links and none of them are really targeted at specific keywords, they're all naturally built without any intervention from me (other than providing high quality content that people want to link to) and all of the pages on my blog rank very highly.

    Let's say for example i'm ranking for the keyword "blue coffee maker", i could not have a single back link to this page, none at all, yet still rank first in Google. This is because the link juice provided to the rest of your website is boosting the ranking of this page - it's NOT all about anchor text and wasn't even before the Panda update.
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  • Profile picture of the author MaverickUK
    Some people are seemingly forgetting the power of link juice. I have an authority website that has over a thousand back links and none of them are really targeted at specific keywords, they're all naturally built without any intervention from me (other than providing high quality content that people want to link to) and all of the pages on my blog rank very highly.

    Let's say for example i'm ranking for the keyword "blue coffee maker", i could not have a single back link to this page, none at all, yet still rank first in Google. This is because the link juice provided to the rest of your website is boosting the ranking of this page - it's NOT all about anchor text and wasn't even before the Panda update.
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  • Profile picture of the author boxoun
    Nobody cares about opinions. Millions of data sets show that most 1st page rankings have more partial match anchors.
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  • Profile picture of the author Targeted Traffic
    As in years past, the page-specific link features tend to be the highest correlated metrics with current rankings.The quantity of unique linking root domains that contain a link employing the keyword as the exact anchor text or as part of the anchor text are still the most important factors.
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  • Profile picture of the author Targeted Traffic
    As in years past, the page-specific link features tend to be the highest correlated metrics with current rankings.The quantity of unique linking root domains that contain a link employing the keyword as the exact anchor text or as part of the anchor text are still the most important factors.
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  • Profile picture of the author lovboa
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    I think our heads will explode if we try to fully explore the complexity and intelligence of the Google algorithms.
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    • Profile picture of the author dburdon
      The topic relationship of the outbound linking page is key. One way of establishing this is to check the title tag of the outbound page.
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  • Profile picture of the author whoismarktaylor
    Google is struggling!

    Google is going to prefer brands, brands are easier to qualify.

    Moving forward Google is going to concentrate its efforts on ‘authors’, that is, the author of the actual content that is placed on any page.

    This makes sense, the next logical step for Google to follow would be to follow ‘social indicators ‘, ( i.e how many shares, likes and comments that content receives.

    I don't think that linking will ever go away, as a base level is an important indicator. Why do think is that these ‘social indicators ‘are true more relevant metric to measure.

    Mark
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    • Profile picture of the author JettH
      Originally Posted by whoismarktaylor View Post

      Google is struggling!

      Google is going to prefer brands, brands are easier to qualify.
      If this is true it means that an exact match domain will remain a significant ranking factor.
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  • Profile picture of the author mosthost
    I wonder how Google decides between green meaning color and green meaning eco-friendly. "Buy green tennis shoes" could definitely mean color, but they took it to mean 'eco-friendly.'
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  • Profile picture of the author wildjohnny
    It's hard to say how important anchor text are for ranking, new update changed some things, so we need some time to see what is now different and in which direction is best to go.
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  • Profile picture of the author Cyber Rankings
    Google has always looked at the surrounding content around a back link, it's nothing new. The only thing that has changed is the fact that it not holds more weight. All spam back links are usually placed on irrelevant pages. This is one of the most obvious signs for Google. I mean if your website is about how to run a marathon and you spam websites with your anchor text "how to run a marathon" do you really think that when google finds it on a page about how to code in html that they will give it much credit?
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    • Profile picture of the author mosthost
      Originally Posted by Cyber Rankings View Post

      Google has always looked at the surrounding content around a back link, it's nothing new. The only thing that has changed is the fact that it not holds more weight. All spam back links are usually placed on irrelevant pages. This is one of the most obvious signs for Google. I mean if your website is about how to run a marathon and you spam websites with your anchor text "how to run a marathon" do you really think that when google finds it on a page about how to code in html that they will give it much credit?
      Make sense. It seems like 'simple text links' are being devalued. They have been for years, IMHO. In-content links have moved up in value, but so has surrounding text.

      If you think about it, that is really the most 'natural' type of link. Someone links to a website using the brand name and then describes the website in terms they understand.

      It seems safe to say that Google has got a lot better at page-level analysis. They take into account your template design and link locations. As we know they're even lowering the rankings of sites with 'too many ads.'

      It looks like web design and navigation and site structure have all risen in importance, along with higher levels of quality for content.

      The big question is: is exact anchor text now harmful? It seems it can be when it's done excessively like with a 'blast' of simple text links.
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      • Profile picture of the author Cyber Rankings
        Originally Posted by mosthost View Post

        Make sense. It seems like 'simple text links' are being devalued. They have been for years, IMHO. In-content links have moved up in value, but so has surrounding text.

        If you think about it, that is really the most 'natural' type of link. Someone links to a website using the brand name and then describes the website in terms they understand.

        It seems safe to say that Google has got a lot better at page-level analysis. They take into account your template design and link locations. As we know they're even lowering the rankings of sites with 'too many ads.'

        It looks like web design and navigation and site structure have all risen in importance, along with higher levels of quality for content.

        The big question is: is exact anchor text now harmful? It seems it can be when it's done excessively like with a 'blast' of simple text links.
        I wouldn't say anchor texts are harmful as they are still extremely important however some people really seem to over do it. I personally don't like to use the same anchor text for 15% of my back links.

        One of the main reasons is I like to target a variety of keywords. Why only concentrate on one?

        Also when you have a long-tail keyword such has "how to prepare a turkey ready for christmas" naturally not many people are going to write this out and then link that whole sentence to your website. So in my opinion and from my experience using more than 10% of such a keyword is never a good idea.

        Things to remember is that Google is extremely clever, if you wanted to rank for the long tail keyword i just described you don't need every back link using that anchor text. If you really mix it up a bit you will not only end up ranking for more keywords but it will also look more natural.
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        • Profile picture of the author mosthost
          Originally Posted by Cyber Rankings View Post

          I wouldn't say anchor texts are harmful as they are still extremely important however some people really seem to over do it. I personally don't like to use the same anchor text for 15% of my back links.

          One of the main reasons is I like to target a variety of keywords. Why only concentrate on one?

          Also when you have a long-tail keyword such has "how to prepare a turkey ready for christmas" naturally not many people are going to write this out and then link that whole sentence to your website. So in my opinion and from my experience using more than 10% of such a keyword is never a good idea.

          Things to remember is that Google is extremely clever, if you wanted to rank for the long tail keyword i just described you don't need every back link using that anchor text. If you really mix it up a bit you will not only end up ranking for more keywords but it will also look more natural.
          Do you think the long tail phrases need to appear on the target page?


          Let's say we have anchor text like:

          Blue Widgets

          Then we link with "buy blue widgets" "blue widgets online" and "blue widgets service."

          Do those exact anchor texts need to appear on the "Blue Widgets" page or is mentioning them once enough?
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          • Profile picture of the author Cyber Rankings
            Originally Posted by mosthost View Post

            Do you think the long tail phrases need to appear on the target page?


            Let's say we have anchor text like:

            Blue Widgets

            Then we link with "buy blue widgets" "blue widgets online" and "blue widgets service."

            Do those exact anchor texts need to appear on the "Blue Widgets" page or is mentioning them once enough?
            I would only use two as I don't feel the third one would hold anymore weight.

            Having a back link with the anchor text "blue widget" and then a long tail keyword works great. The reason being is that all of the other searches that fall between those keywords you automatically gain authority for. I'll show you an example below.

            Lose Weight
            lose weight fast
            how to lose weight fast
            the best way to lose weight fast is.

            Out of those keywords I would pick "lose weight" and "how to lose weight fast" the reason being is that if you have quality back links using both of them anchor texts Google will be able to tell that "lose weight fast" and "the best way to lose weight fast is" are also relevant to your website.

            Now if you wasn't going after the main keyword i would chose number two and number 4 instead.

            Also if you are using a web 2.0 property or anything like it make sure the links going to that are more heavily key worded. i.e.

            1,000 Backlinks to web 2.0 using 15 different anchor text and 20% 0 anchor text.

            These then link to your web 2.0 with relevant content to your niche.

            You then have the two key worded links pointing to your website.


            This not only increases the power of the links but also keeps everything niche relevant from the beginning to the end. I have ranked for low competition keywords just by creating 4-5 web 2.0's and using the exact method above. Usually though you are looking at around 10-12
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  • Profile picture of the author eviezamora
    As far as I'm concerned, anchor text is still important to rank well for your chosen keywords. However, after the Google Panda update, you want to make sure that you evenly spread out your keywords so you don't have too many links with the same anchor text.
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  • Profile picture of the author shakil754
    I think hyperlinking with your keyword is still relevant. However, it is also important that you also link using related keywords. The key here is use a wide varety of related keywords and not just the main one.
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  • Profile picture of the author LiftMyRank
    Anchor text backlinking still works fine, you just need to make sure you're embedding these links inside unique content, footer/blog/forum/comment links don't work as well anymore....
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  • Profile picture of the author iamnotfrankkern
    Heck, for years Adobe ranked #1 for the term “click here” even though that term was not in their url or anywhere on the page. That’s how powerful the anchor text is.
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    • Profile picture of the author rvrabel2002
      Quick question, using the example above, does anyone know if pmq would be linked like this:

      where can i find green tennis shoes

      or this,

      where can i find green tennis shoes

      So, the question basically is do I link the whole sentence, or just the word in the sentence i am targeting?

      Thanks
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  • Profile picture of the author tony5885
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    • Profile picture of the author yukon
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      Originally Posted by tony5885 View Post

      I thing we need a decoder of SE-some how we just keep gussing...
      If you slow down & reverse engineer high ranking pages in the SERPs it's not that complicated to figure out a lot of things that trigger certain results in the SERPs.

      Most changes in the SERPs happen because of anchor-text, no matter If it's on-page seo or off-page seo.
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      Hi
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