Why does Google reward exact anchor text so much (with a penalty) ;)

by nik0 Banned
22 replies
  • SEO
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It's insane, Google penalizes us for using exact anchor text and at the same time it still hugely effective.

Tiny test case:

- We place 20 high PR blog posts only using branded and url anchors, result: main keyword isn't moving a single spot

- 1.5 month later we place 10 high PR blog posts using the exact money anchor, result: the keyword moves from #6 to #1 within about 2 weeks.


Second test case:

- again 20 high PR post with branded/url anchors and keyword stays stuck at #9

- 1.5 month later, 10 high PR blog post with one exact money anchor again and poof, within 4 weeks the keyword ranks at #3
#anchor #exact #google #penalty #reward #text
  • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
    Because the people who say you get penalized for exact match anchor text alone are largely morons. You don't even have to test it. Just do some research and look at sites already ranking. You will find plenty ranking just fine with barely any anchor variation.
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    • Profile picture of the author paulgl
      Google said nothing about anchor text, except for one small item:
      Forum sig links. Go figure.

      Oh, and one other little item: Putting your keyword(s) as your username
      when blog commenting...

      Both of those are tip offs to spam. It's not about "varying anchor text"
      or "short anchor text."

      It's about spam. Period. Spam.

      People need to stop looking under the same rocks. People try and
      fool google and only fool themselves. They heard a guy who knew
      a guy who read a guy who lives in his mom's basement. And they all
      lived happily ever after with a penguin, panda, and a camel.

      Paul
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      • Profile picture of the author dewayneboyd
        Originally Posted by paulgl View Post

        Google said nothing about anchor text, except for one small item:
        Forum sig links. Go figure.

        Oh, and one other little item: Putting your keyword(s) as your username
        when blog commenting...

        Both of those are tip offs to spam. It's not about "varying anchor text"
        or "short anchor text."

        It's about spam. Period. Spam.

        People need to stop looking under the same rocks. People try and
        fool google and only fool themselves. They heard a guy who knew
        a guy who read a guy who lives in his mom's basement. And they all
        lived happily ever after with a penguin, panda, and a camel.

        Paul
        Sounds like that movie The Life Of Pi.
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    • Profile picture of the author nik0
      Banned
      Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

      Because the people who say you get penalized for exact match anchor text alone are largely morons. You don't even have to test it. Just do some research and look at sites already ranking. You will find plenty ranking just fine with barely any anchor variation.
      How about you show me some sites that have 100's of links and only a dozen different anchors while one of them (the main keyword) is used let's say more then 30% of the time.

      I see plenty of sites ranking that have 30% the same anchor but they also have 50+ different anchors in total, that's not "barely" any anchor variation.
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  • Profile picture of the author attorneydavid
    Originally Posted by nik0 View Post

    It's insane, Google penalizes us for using exact anchor text and at the same time it still hugely effective.

    Tiny test case:

    - We place 20 high PR blog posts only using branded and url anchors, result: main keyword isn't moving a single spot

    - 1.5 month later we place 10 high PR blog posts using the exact money anchor, result: the keyword moves from #6 to #1 within about 2 weeks.


    Second test case:

    - again 20 high PR post with branded/url anchors and keyword stays stuck at #9

    - 1.5 month later, 10 high PR blog post with one exact money anchor again and poof, within 4 weeks the keyword ranks at #3
    Report back after penguin iteration. However, 10 posts probably won't get flagged. Especially on a site with a decent profile
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    • Profile picture of the author nik0
      Banned
      Originally Posted by attorneydavid View Post

      Report back after penguin iteration. However, 10 posts probably won't get flagged. Especially on a site with a decent profile
      Both sites had a decent link profile already yes so 10 links with the same anchor wasn't very risky.

      I was just heavily surprised that the rankings didn't improve at all when just using url/branded anchors.
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  • Profile picture of the author fjouad
    Hy

    I think the first experience was very useful on you case bescause you have already created 20 Unrelated anchor links and that's give you natural backlinks on google eyes ... and after a enough time you add the Exact Anchor Keys .... I Mean your first 20 Links are the key on your case !!
    your methode is a long term strategie to stay for a long time on the first page .

    ( excuse my poor english, i am not a native spaker )
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    Maybe some of your links suck as far as relevancy to the money page?

    A backlink from a site/page focused on the same niche as the money page on another domain is stronger than a one hit wonder single web page on a completely random domain/niche.
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
    Niko,

    They're out there. Look harder.

    You're test kind of stinks anyhow. It's 30 links. If Google was going to penalize sites for not having anchor text variety, I'm sure they would ignore it if a page only has 30 links. It's too small of a sample size for them to determine if someone really is trying to manipulate something.
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    • Profile picture of the author nik0
      Banned
      Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

      Niko,

      They're out there. Look harder.

      You're test kind of stinks anyhow. It's 30 links. If Google was going to penalize sites for not having anchor text variety, I'm sure they would ignore it if a page only has 30 links. It's too small of a sample size for them to determine if someone really is trying to manipulate something.
      Who said that I was trying to rank a brand new page with just 30 links, nice assumption you make there.

      If there were plenty of them out there you would have posted a few examples right away so don't come up with that nonsense.

      Everyone knows how important anchor diversity is these days and you remain stubborn, while in this very post you are admitting that anchor diversity matters by saying "I'm sure they would ignore it if a page only has 30 links" lol, what is there to ignore if it doesn't exist?
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      • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
        Originally Posted by nik0 View Post

        Who said that I was trying to rank a brand new page with just 30 links, nice assumption you make there.

        If there were plenty of them out there you would have posted a few examples right away so don't come up with that nonsense.

        Everyone knows how important anchor diversity is these days and you remain stubborn, while in this very post you are admitting that anchor diversity matters by saying "I'm sure they would ignore it if a page only has 30 links" lol, what is there to ignore if it doesn't exist?
        It wasn't an assumption. You said you built 30 links in your test. So like I said, IF there was a penalty for lack of anchor diversity, a page with 30 links would not trigger it. Google is smarter than that. It's too small of a sample size to make any assumptions on. They know that.

        The reason I did not post examples is because most of the ones I know of off the top of my head are ones that I am working on. Not about to expose them here. They are out there though.

        Here is the big problem with making any assumptions about anchor diversity... you have no idea what links are really out there on a page. You can never gather 100% of the links to make any definitive claim like that. None of the backlink checkers pick up all the links. Google does not display 100% of the links in WMT or anywhere else. Even on a brand new domain, you really cannot be sure. There are so many scraper sites out there that might be scraping pages (links included) that Ahrefs, Majestic, and OSE will never pick up.

        I have other reasons for diversifying anchor text on most project I work on, but it has nothing to do with some mythical penalty Google is handing out for not doing it.
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        • Profile picture of the author nik0
          Banned
          Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

          It wasn't an assumption. You said you built 30 links in your test. So like I said, IF there was a penalty for lack of anchor diversity, a page with 30 links would not trigger it. Google is smarter than that. It's too small of a sample size to make any assumptions on. They know that.

          The reason I did not post examples is because most of the ones I know of off the top of my head are ones that I am working on. Not about to expose them here. They are out there though.

          Here is the big problem with making any assumptions about anchor diversity... you have no idea what links are really out there on a page. You can never gather 100% of the links to make any definitive claim like that. None of the backlink checkers pick up all the links. Google does not display 100% of the links in WMT or anywhere else. Even on a brand new domain, you really cannot be sure. There are so many scraper sites out there that might be scraping pages (links included) that Ahrefs, Majestic, and OSE will never pick up.

          I have other reasons for diversifying anchor text on most project I work on, but it has nothing to do with some mythical penalty Google is handing out for not doing it.
          30 links on an existing website if you read the other posts.

          I don't know what links are really out there? I've build links to plenty of brand new sites that I own myself and plenty of links to sites from customers to know how far I can go these days.

          It's not only about anchor diversity, it's also about % of money keywords being used as anchor text vs branded / generic / very long tail and so on (even in combination with EMD or partial EMD's where the filters are set even tighter), in the beginning we focused too much on money keywords and that lead to issue's while all sites with plenty of other diverse anchors all got away with it. This is not a single case, this is based on 100's of clients that I analyzed during the latest Penguin 2.1 update.

          Now there were 2-3 exceptions that didn't fit the profile but for the rest it was pretty clear. The only thing I have to admit is that the sites with too many money keywords also dealt with other issue's like duplicate content and/or spun content on the site or tons of pages that shouldn't have been indexed like /wp-includes/ folder or dynamically created pages from eCommerce sites as well as thin and heavily over monetized sites.

          The sites that didn't deal with any site structure issue's / errors somehow also turned out to have a more diverse anchor profile, either due to existing links or due to the customer changing the keywords every month and including a ton of branded/generic ones.

          I ain't saying you get away with spam links when you diverse the anchors enough, not at all, but you'll definitely get hit when you only focus on 5 or 6 keywords as anchors and call it a day. Just a matter of time for it to happen.
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          • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
            Originally Posted by nik0 View Post

            30 links on an existing website if you read the other posts.

            You are right. I did not read the other posts.

            The sites already had pretty decent link profiles you said. So pretending that there is some penalty for lack of anchor text diversity, your test of adding 30 links would not have triggered it anyhow.

            What I'm gathering out of what you tested is that you thought Google no longer rewarded anchor text links containing keywords. You found out otherwise.

            Links containing your keywords as anchor text are more powerful than those that do not.

            Basically, that is what your test showed.
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            • Profile picture of the author nik0
              Banned
              Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

              You are right. I did not read the other posts.

              The sites already had pretty decent link profiles you said. So pretending that there is some penalty for lack of anchor text diversity, your test of adding 30 links would not have triggered it anyhow.

              What I'm gathering out of what you tested is that you thought Google no longer rewarded anchor text links containing keywords. You found out otherwise.

              Links containing your keywords as anchor text are more powerful than those that do not.

              Basically, that is what your test showed.
              My post had nothing to do with testing if a penalty would get triggered, it was solely meant to show that those url/brand anchors had zero influence on the rankings as I waited 6 weeks before I started the next batch, and to make my service more safe I decided to give everyone url/brand anchors that month and almost no one moved forward that month.

              It was already clear to me that Google hugely favors exact anchors but I am totally stunned by the close to zero ranking benefit when not using exact anchors.
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              • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
                Originally Posted by nik0 View Post

                My post had nothing to do with testing if a penalty would get triggered, it was solely meant to show that those url/brand anchors had zero influence on the rankings as I waited 6 weeks before I started the next batch, and to make my service more safe I decided to give everyone url/brand anchors that month and almost no one moved forward that month.

                It was already clear to me that Google hugely favors exact anchors but I am totally stunned by the close to zero ranking benefit when not using exact anchors.

                Gotchya. I misunderstood what you were testing. I read the first sentence and fixated on that. Maybe it was the scotch yesterday. Maybe not.

                Anyhow, yeah, keyword rich anchor text links have never lost their effectiveness.

                As for all the other generic links and that junk, they are more effective if you point them at a page linking to the page you are trying to rank. So for example, point them at a site's homepage, which then has an internal link to the page you are trying to rank. It strengthens the internal link. Other than that, I would never waste good links by using generic or branded anchor text.
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                • Profile picture of the author attorneydavid
                  Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

                  Gotchya. I misunderstood what you were testing. I read the first sentence and fixated on that. Maybe it was the scotch yesterday. Maybe not.

                  Anyhow, yeah, keyword rich anchor text links have never lost their effectiveness.

                  As for all the other generic links and that junk, they are more effective if you point them at a page linking to the page you are trying to rank. So for example, point them at a site's homepage, which then has an internal link to the page you are trying to rank. It strengthens the internal link. Other than that, I would never waste good links by using generic or branded anchor text.
                  I think there's a delay on passing pr except for maybe high trust links. I've built links in the past that decreased a page's PR and then the next update it went up. (several years ago) So if that's how generic stuff benefits then I would expect some delay.

                  Anchor text may benefit some other way.

                  Also, I think it may be an overabundance of anchor text on the SOURCE page that may be causing problems. This is based on experience where I used a bunch of links with diversified noncommercial anchors on a subpage as a test. The page eventually tanked. The source page had a number of commercial anchors though.
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  • Profile picture of the author IMdeaming
    Doesn't have to be exact to get the keywords in and still be effective. 10% exact (strongest links), 20% exact variations, 20% post title, 20% synonym variations and the rest anchor text from incoming search terms. It ain't rocket science.
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  • Profile picture of the author rossnmia
    When blog commenting it's all about what looks "natural" - Google likes to see many varying links using relevant keywords or similar phrases - so if you use varying phrases that include exact and phrase text within the anchor text you'll be fine. The problem is when you use ONLY those keyword in the text. I do lots of blog commenting (for clients and my own sites), to ensure a wide variation of incoming anchor text links I write down a series of relevant phrases that include the keywords you want to rank for.

    It is also true if you use keywords on the name you can be penalised. If you were wanting to use the keywords "skin care recipes" You could use text like Mia Gordon Skin Care Recipes Author but thats about as close as you can get. The density of keywords to name is on the high side in this example.

    Hope that helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author rpendergraph23
    this was just a poor example... Only ten blog post is not enough to prove anything.
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    • Profile picture of the author nik0
      Banned
      Originally Posted by rpendergraph23 View Post

      this was just a poor example... Only ten blog post is not enough to prove anything.
      yeah you're right :rolleyes:

      now go read all posts again
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  • Profile picture of the author Jeffery Moss
    There's a difference between using 20 keyword exact anchor text links and 1000 such links. And, Google frowns on anything done to spam proportions. Just do this type of backlinking in moderation from the highest quality sites (as you have) and you should be fine.
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  • Profile picture of the author DPM70
    I've recently found out the hard way that if your competitor reports you (it's happening in every niche I know) you'll get a manual spam action and you could have been as careful as you liked with the backlinks but you'll still get wasted. Percentages and anchor text don't even come into it. I think the big G has invested in a lot more "feet on the ground" than people give them credit (or creedence) for. Believe!
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