Does exact match anchor text help or hurt?
The traditional ranking signals – keywords, links, anchor text, and authority – have remained as the dominant factors in search rankings of Google for a long time. From these, the keywords and anchor text were considered as the most important factors. However, over the past few years Google has started to get tougher on web spammers and it has eventually made Google more interested in handling the way it treats exact match anchor text in its search algorithms.
It is not a secret that the Penguin and Panda updates from Google caused a lot of panic among SEO professionals, e-marketers and probably every blogger on the planet. Even though most of us eventually got exhausted of reading about their impact and assumptions of what direction they lead the future of online marketing, what seemed truly interesting were the issues surrounding anchor text links that were targeted by the Penguin update.
After the Penguin update, Google released another update to its search algorithm, which they claimed to target the exact match domains (EMDs). And that update also has an approach that affects exact match anchor text.
At present exact match anchor text is not as valuable as it was few years ago; and most of the SEO experts claim that their value in search algorithms are going to fall even further. In other words, exact match anchor text are going to hurt your search rankings if you use them without caution. So it is always better to diversify your backlinks by using longer key phrases when linking back to your content and your website.
How to make the most of anchor text links
Your anchor text does not have to be rigorously exact all the time. And doing so will probably get you panelized from search engines. So here are some ways you can use anchor text in your SEO campaigns without damaging your search engine rankings.
- Use partially matched anchor text
After choosing your keywords, try to make small phrases with 4/5 words that contain 1 or 2 of your selected keywords. Also check if you can swap around the words in your most important key phrases and slightly alter them. Most of the researches have shown that partially matched anchor text have a slight advantage over exact match anchor text.
- Use synonyms
Swap the words in your anchor text with synonyms. This will make your link portfolio look more natural.
- Create a natural link portfolio
Always try to diversify your link portfolio to make it look natural. Link to deep pages, add some no-follow links and image links, and also try to diversify your link sources (blogs, directories, forums, news hubs).
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