Anchor Text in 2012: The What, Why & How

Whenever Google makes changes to their ranking system, website owners scramble to make sweeping changes to their search engine optimisation setups.  Sometimes, those changes are necessary, but in many cases they are premature.  The most recent change that has the SEO world up in arms is some tweaks to the way the search giant handles anchor text.  What does this change mean for you?

Google Still Cares About Anchor Text

Some of the concerns about this update are unwarranted.  The change, codenamed “PC”, does not mean that anchor text is ignored.  Google’s own update note says:

“This month we turned off a classifier related to anchor text (the visible text appearing in links). Our experimental data suggested that other methods of anchor processing had greater success, so turning off this component made our scoring cleaner and more robust.”

This suggests that they are changing the way the score anchor text processing. Later in the update notes they indicate that they have“improved systems [...they...] use to interpret and use anchor text, and determine how relevant a given anchor might be for a given query and website”

This suggests that anchor text is still very important to the search engine, and that good search engine optimisation requires diverse, but relevant anchor text.

Over-Optimisation Is Possible

Over the last few months, Google has been putting a lot of effort into penalizing over-optimized sites.  Webmasters that bought high volumes of paid links with over-optimized anchor text have found themselves hit with serious penalties; as are sites that have a poor deep linking ratio, or lots of links from sites on the same IP.

If you want to avoid those penalties, take care to vary your anchor text when you work on link building, and ask your SEO agency to provide a variety of deep links. If you’re trying to build the page rank of a specific deep page, don’t focus all of your search engine optimisation efforts on that one page.  Instead, get your SEO agency to pay some attention to other pages too.  This will make the links look more natural, and help you to avoid any penalties.

Don’t Make Sweeping Changes

If you spend a lot of time on webmaster focused forums, it’s easy to get caught up in the panic and speculation that surrounds Google updates. Most of the time, engaging in this speculation, or acting on “insider tips” is a waste of time.  If you are using a reputable SEO agency, and only doing white-hat search engine optimisation, you have little reason to fear Google’s normal updates.

Trying to stay ahead of Google will put you in a never-ending race, and you’ll invest lots of time making changes that you may not have needed to make.  For most webmasters, it’s better to just keep an eye on your SERPs, and only make changes if you see that your site is suffering. Don’t waste your energy worrying about things that may not even affect you.

Written by Amy Fowler of SEO agency, Boom Online Marketing. To find out more about Amy, follow her on Twitter.

Dated: Apr 23 2012

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