Google's Depreciation of Anchor Text

I only attended a couple panels at SES, but Greg Boser was on one of them, and he always has a way of saying things in a clear way. He mentioned in the past that a divide and conquer technique was a great way for small sites to compete with larger rivals. He then went on to say that with Google's current reliance on site age and link related authority that it may no longer make sense to use a divide and conquer method to rank well in Google. If you look through Google's search results for competitive insurance related phrases typically they are dominated by old sites, government and education sites, news sites, and/or sites which are focused on all 50 states. In the past it might have made sense to make sites for each of the most important states, but with the current Google one site with an authority rank of 8 is probably going to be worth far more than a half dozen sites in the same vertical that only have an authority rank of 6 (there is no AuthorityRank meter...just assume it is some arbitrary value based on age and link equity).

Another thing which Greg mentioned in his speech was that it seems Google is really moving away from trusting anchor text as much as they used to. I recently bought an old domain from a friend that was just wasting away. It was old and had a few average type links from related websites, but had no relevant anchor text for the terms I wanted to rank.

I changed the internal link structure to focus the home page on a moderately competitive term. Just doing that ranked it in the top 20 for that term. I then got it a couple low-to-average-quality links with the plural version of that anchor text and got it ranked in the top 10 for both versions. In the past that site might have required either higher quality links or many more descriptive link anchors to rank.

In the past (say a year or two ago) I was way more focused on getting specific anchor text from external sources and probably went a bit far with it. Now it seems all you need are a few relevant decent quality descriptive links and your site will rank so long as your site has a bit of age and a few legitimate links.

Published: August 14, 2006 by Aaron Wall in seo tips


September 15, 2006 - 5:55pm

I'm wondering if anyone can comment on anchor text format. Even though it seems like it is diminshing in value according to these comments, I assume it still has some value.

Is it okay to use a complete sentance that contains the keyword you are targeting as anchor text or should you just use the exact keyword you are trying gain rank in as your anchor text?

Thanks for the help.

September 15, 2006 - 10:27pm

I would typically recommend using many smaller and mixed anchor texts than to use sentence long anchors.

August 14, 2006 - 6:53pm


This is something that I have been observing for a while. I have a website that competes in the credit card industry and I've noticed that quite a few credit card websites rank #1 for very competitive terms in Google, even without having the term in their anchor text.

In many cases the competitive term that the site ranked for appeared only on the page.

It seems that with Google, site authority (whatever that means according to Google :) is the way forward with SEO.

August 14, 2006 - 7:25pm

google and msn still put a lot of weight on domain names - that is, having your targeted keyword(s) as part of the domain name. some people may argue this is not true but i managed to get two web site ranked between 1 and 5 on google and msn in less than one month. of course, lots of quality anchor text/links certainly helps too. yahoo is a different story...

August 14, 2006 - 8:29pm

Well I also noticed these things... One of my blog didnt use any anchor text links and shows up #2 for that moderately competetive term with half a million pages... I guess there got to be more in this...

August 14, 2006 - 11:46pm

Actually google is turning itself to more of natural way. Anchor text is also given important but then if the link has only keyword in the anchor text then obviously it will have less importance because google will detect as artifitial link. And again there will be algorithm to see xx no. of link with the same text and if its more than xx no. give it a lower value...

The Authority rank meter or google's logic for authorised site might mean following:

1. Site has incoming links with different anchor text i.e. not only keyword but mix of all - so this will say the links are coming natural way, becasue when a laymen links to someone, he is not going to include keywords in it...

2. The quality of links - from which sites links are coming and what is the authority status of it. For example, if links are coming from a blog, then how? did blog poster gave the link in some article (high value), if yes - then check the value of the blog, PR, (internal), how many back links to the blog and how many are genuine etc...

Same logic applies for the arcticle and press relase sites but press release / news sites are given higher importance...

In this age of SEO and google, natural linking and domain age is what matters...


August 21, 2006 - 3:07am

I have also noticed this. I have had a site rank #1 in google for a very specific, non competitive term even though none of the banklink anchor texts were even close to being related to the search term.

August 16, 2006 - 3:10am

I have seen this recently but for competitive terms it appears that you need a steady stream of incoming links. But Aaron it would be interesting to see if you ranks holds over time.

Thanks for this post!

July 25, 2007 - 9:01am

Are the seo experts saying more than what it is.I watched videos of matt cutts about the link quality ,he nowhere mentions about .gov .org or .edu link quality.

But definitely seo experts like seobook or seocompany have made good attempt to analyse the link quality of gov or edu links that google may look at in future.

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