Rethinking Anchor Text – Exact, Partial, Company Name or URL?

by mjtaylor on October 4, 2013

Anchor Text Lessons From the MOZ 200 for 2013

We’re told that exact match anchor text can work against a page in Google, that the Penguin update targeted that practice, yet in the most recent survey by Moz of leading search marketers,  exact anchor text was perceived by the experts as a significant ranking signal. So, was partial match anchor text.  I also find a lot of webmasters who say their competition appears to be having success with exact match.

Confusing, isn’t it?

Here’s my take. Exact match anchor text is still working when it’s not a significant part of your link profile.  Quality content is going to attract links with a large variety of text for anchors – and some of them will be exactly what you’re targeting and some won’t.

If our links are naturally built, we don’t have any control over it anyway, but if we’re commenting on forums or placing guest posts, or linking from our own blog, it’s wise to avoid linking with one phrase over and over. Better to consider partial anchor text.

This would be my approach. Let’s say I want to rank for SEO web design. I might want to link like this:

All those should support my target phrase. In fact, linking the company name next to the target phrase, as in Cyber Key SEO Web design, should , too, as keywords in proximity to a link seem to have a strong factor for relevance. And anchor text is all about relevance, isn’t it?

It’s all about balance – most links should come to the company name or the domain name, and some in exact or partial match to my targeted keywords.

Exact and partial anchor text are only 2 of the 200 signals explored  by the Moz survey, of course, As you review the data, it’s important to remember that correlation is not necessarily cause and effect – and that the data here reflects the opinion of experts and not hard data on Google’s algorithm.

2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors Survey & Correlation Data.

The survey is presented in an interactive style so that you can sort the data by type:

MOZ 2013- 200 Ranking Factors

It’s also noteworthy to see that the highest correlation appears to be Page Authority . One might say, not surprising since it’s MOZ that calculates that metric. Nonetheless,  since Google hasn’t updated the PageRank toolbar in months (and has successfully convinced many of not most SEOs that PageRank isn’t all that important anyway) the most valuable metric available to webmasters for assessing the value of a page is Moz’s domain and page authority metrics.


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