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Relevancy & Exact-Match Anchor Text Linking in the Penguin Era

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The recent Penguin Update has sent waves through the industry and only now are those that have been affected getting a handle on understanding what has happened to their sites and been able to start taking proactive steps to rectify the situation. Various outlets for SEO news and insight have offered their knowledge and expertise through videos, articles, and full webinars. For WebiMax, this entire PenguinWatch site is an example of this information-sharing. With this in mind, we conducted a successful Penguin Update Webinar that detailed precisely what happened, what companies can do about it, and what this all means for the outlook of internet marketing and search rankings going forward.

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In the last post below, we were describing the coming webinar, but now that it is completed, you should head over and watch the Penguin Webinar to gain further insight. Addressing Google’s Penguin Update itself, depending on the ways in which your site was impacted, there are specific measures you can take, from dropping previously attained unnatural links to revising past off-site links that you control.

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Right there with the linking and the locations from which they come, are the actual ways in which they are created in terms of anchor text and content. In looking at how businesses can rectify their latest algorithmic penalties and establish a revised plan for the future, two specific areas of interest are the relevancy and exact-match anchor text linking within the content.

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Exact-match anchor text linking does not spell death, but close
Matching the anchor texts that you use in your content for your links exactly to the keywords or keyword phrases is problematic, to a degree. This has been a common practice for quite some time, in fact the default strategy for most SEO’s, for creating in-content links. This practice must be adapted, however, post Penguin. The practice lends itself to an unnatural flow of language at times and its use can be overdone, and in Google’s eyes contribute to “spammy” looking content.

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Websites that exclusively used such linking were hit by the recent Penguin Update and need to adjust their practices. Our research shared in the Webinar shows that there was a threshold for direct-match anchor text use and penalization. Websites that have around or over 60% of their links as exact-match anchor texts, penalizations were experienced. Dialing it back, there were virtually no penalizations for those sites that had less than 50% of their links as exact-match anchor text links. As a result, businesses and those facilitating their linking texts should diversify the way those anchor texts appear and establish a set strategy to measure and track their total linking.

Relevancy…for the reader and the algorithm
The search algorithms, especially Google’s, have come a long way and no longer have difficulty recognizing when text does not relate to the rest of the content. The relevancy goes for the entire text, but is focused on the anchor texts used themselves. The algorithms can determine how relevant anchor text and keyword phrases are to the rest of the content, and when the anchor text content does not strongly relate – then there can be issues.

In response to this, varying anchor texts is the best strategy, but doing so using variations of relevant phrases is the key. Regarding this matter specifically, SEO’s want to ensure that the relevant anchor text occurs naturally in the flow of the language. This means that the occurrence of the words should flow as if there were no links there at all and only minimally change given the presence of the link. According to the algorithm, this is more user-friendly for the reader and appears less “spammy,” both goals of the search engines.

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