Google SEO & Search Engine Marketing Services

Does Exact Anchor Text Really Matter?

Those of you who read SEOwizz will know I am a huge fan of anchor text and use anchor text linking throughout all my SEO campaigns. There are, however, constant challenges to the exact impact anchor text has on rankings and some even suggesting it has completely lost it’s weight due to manipulation.

First let me clear something up…..

If you have a site named and you practice in search engine optimisation, it is not anchor text manipulation to acquire a load of links with the anchor text “search engine optimisation”.

Anchor text must be descriptive yes, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the name of your site or top level domain (TLD). If you practice “search engine optimisation” and you have links anchored with that keyword, what exactly is the problem? It’s relevant and people will know doubt find what they want if you rank well.

Sorry, just had to clear that up.

Anyway to find out the exact effect anchor text has I carried out a test. I have looked at the top 5 sites across 35 different keywords ranging from “used cars” to “seo” to “online bingo”, all competitive, high traffic keywords.

The aim is to see how many use the exact anchor text and how the use of it impacts rankings. A nice small test but one that gave some interesting results and highlighted some peripheral issues.

The Test

So the test was pretty simple, look at the links of the top 5 sites over 35 different keywords and then work out some average percentages;
anchor text

So as you can see the top 5 sites use between 15 – 22 percent exact anchor texts in their links, but the highest percentage does not necessarily win.

Whilst conducting this test I came across some very interesting points, some that have already been spoken of and others that haven’t really been touched upon much.

Anchor Variations

Even though the sites did not have particularly high exact text percentages, they all used thousands of different variations that included their targeted keywords. Not only this but 90% of the sites tested had anchor text that did not include the target keywords but instead used other relevant keywords.

<b>For example “internet marketing” & “search engine optimisation” – different keywords but relevant.</b>

Google has the capability now to recognise word patterns and even if your keywords are not exact or even a broad variation, Google can still establish which ones should be tied together.

Internal Links

One thing that was evident in just about every site was that they were using their internal links efficiently. Not only were they anchoring their internal links with their target keyword but these internal links were also carrying a good amount of link juice.

Internal links anchored correctly hold more weight than you might think, don’t waste an easy opportunity to create relevance.


There were clear signs of brands being able to rank highly despite not having relevant anchor text. Some brands were simply ranking highly because their names are so closely associated with the keyword.

For example, autotrader ranked 3rd for the keyword “used cars” despite it never been used in the anchor text.

SEO First

A few interesting examples came to light when searching the keywords used cars and online bingo. Some of the websites in the top 5 have recently started their TV campaigns, however some of their links are over 3 years old.

These sites have clearly used SEO techniques to launch their business, becoming popular online has given them the opportunity and capital to launch their TV campaigns.

This is a clear demonstration of the marketing power of SEO.


There were a lot of sites ranking in the top five with a deep page from their sites with very few links and some of these sites weren’t what you would call “well known brands”.

The early conclusion I am coming to is that a “sites theme” really does matter.

A quick example……

If you have a website comparing different online casino’s and you decide to create a page for, roulette techniques, you may find the page ranks well with very few links based on the overall theme of your site and how relevant it is to your newly launched page.

Domain trust also plays a part here, if your theme is relevant and your domain is trusted you can rank new pages very quickly, even for competitive terms.

I hope this has provided you with some further insights into SEO and how Google is currently rankings pages. If you have any questions or points to add please leave a comment.

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Author: Tim (257 Articles)

is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 9 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Director of Search at Branded3, a Digital Marketing & SEO Agency based in the UK.



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