As an SEO, we follow the same “thought leaders”, everyone watches Moz’s Whiteboard Fridays, comments on their blogs to hear their own voice and get bragging rights in the industry. First, we love Moz – they are always the first to promote positive activities and openly slam bad tactics. I watched a Whiteboard Friday episode that Rand Fishkin put together on April 18, 2014 titled “6 Changes We Always Thought Google Would Make to SEO That They Haven’t Yet” and opened a sore subject with me… Anchor Text.
Rand Fishkin of Moz states “Getting specific, targeting something like “gardening supplies” when I link to A, as opposed to on the same page saying something like, “Oh, this is also a good resource for gardening supplies,” but all I linked with was the text “a good resource” over to B, that A is going to get a lot more ranking power. Again, all other things being equal, A will rank much higher than B, because this anchor text is still pretty influential. It has a fairly substantive effect.
I think this is one of those cases where a lot of SEOs said, “Hey, anchor text is where a lot of manipulation and abuse is happening. It’s where a lot of Web spam happens. Clearly Google’s going to take some action against this.”
We have seen websites get penalized for previous SEO work done with heavy anchor text links and paid links, however Google still heavily uses anchor text in their algorithm. We feel like Google wants it both ways; where they penalize anchor text heavy links but then don’t value natural links as much. On one hand you have the spammy link text that increases your rankings, but if you have too much of that one spammy link text you get penalized. Then, you have the natural links over here with great content surrounding them with a lot of relevancy from good marketing that are not valued as high.
The problem we have with how Google handles this is simple; they keep penalizing sites for over-optimization then reward other sites that has keyword dense anchor text, but not over-the-top. It is our opinion as of late, that the link anchor text should carry no weight, rather the link and its surrounding content to prove relevance. We are told this is the case, but isn’t reality.