With the Penguin 2.0 update that rocked the SEO world in late May, anchor text became quite a big topic of discussion in the SEO community. What level of exact match anchor text is appropriate to use in a post penguin world? What about partial match anchor text? How do we get over optimized anchor text links changed, and how much will it impact rankings? Before you go a little overboard with making anchor text changes, you should take a few other factors into consideration in order to develop a strategy for dealing with the Penguin 2.0 updates.
Change Anchor Text to an Extent
You can do a sweep of your backlinks to see which anchor text links are over optimized and should be changed, which will get you mixed results from my own personal experience. While you can do one clean sweep and change links to branded names or URL links, it’s easy to obsess over changing what’s in the past, when what you should be doing is building the right type of new links now. Additionally, you can work on changing anchor text to more “natural” anchor text variations, yet Google might think that’s unnatural, especially if you change all of the links to the same anchor text. For example, if you change every anchor text link you have from “my target keyword” to “my brand name”, you might swing the pendulum in the opposite direction, and have an unnatural level of branded links.
I worked on a site where the anchor text distribution for the target keyword pontoon boats was far higher than other competitor websites. While changing all the pontoon boats links to branded names had a marginal benefit, it didn’t seem to appease Google as much as expected. In Majestic SEO, we noticed that the “Other Anchor Text” section of the anchor text pie chart, which would include links like company website, link, click here, etc. were at a much lower level than other related websites. Since working on expanding those types of diversified anchor text links, results have steadily improved. Since making that observation, I’d estimate that a healthy level of “Other Anchor Text” for a company home page should be around 35-45%.
Monitoring Changes Where Other Anchor Text Matters
Much like over-analyzing anchor text, you can easily over-analyze ranking changes while you try to twist the Google knobs to the appropriate levels. Many people speculate that while rankings can be impacted from the immediate changes, many actions won’t take effect until the next major Google algorithm update. Others have gone as far as to say that Google is making rankings unpredictable as a way to expose link networks and other unnatural link building methods that they see as a threat to their search engine’s integrity. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say that, I certainly think websites shouldn’t take too many drastic actions in the wake of any major algorithm update, and we can’t rely on ranking changes as concrete evidence for our actions. As long as you work steadily at building higher quality links to your website that competitor sites don’t have, and don’t try too hard to manipulate anchor texts used for link, you should be able to weather the Google storm better than most.