Many of you will remember the article I released on brand anchor text and how I thought it was playing a role in rankings, plus I insinuated that over optimised link profiles were been filtered to give a more natural look to the SERPs?
Well it seems I was wrong and anchor text is still the king after all, this shows the difference between correlation and causation perfectly and I am sure there are going to be many of you out there that are shouting ‘told you so’.
I apologise for misleading any one but as you will see Google have been playing tricks and I think they have a few more to play.
The up date that changed my mind on anchor text was played out in the UK around Halloween, Google’s idea of ‘trick or treat’.
But I Still Wasn’t Wrong
The research I performed was correct, the sites at the top of the SERP’s definitely had a better brand anchor text ratio and the sites struggling definitely had an over focused anchor text profile, however what I got wrong was the fact it wasn’t the ‘clean brand’ effect causing them to rank.
What Was Causing Them To Rank Then??
This is my theory, not to be academically scrutinised (to all you SEO scientists out there), it is based on what I have seen happening in the SERPs and I have a couple of examples to back it up.
Just to clarify, these are examples and in no way are meant to act as an outing!! I am just trying to prove a point and am not trying to get anyone penalised. If I don’t include them I will just get called out as having no evidence, so it’s a lose lose.
Anyway this is what I think has happened……….
A couple of months ago the sites at the top were home pages or top level domains, they were ranking with little or no anchor text and not even that many links compared to their heavily optimised competitors.
However those under optimised links had nothing to do with where they ranked, that brand focused anchor text was not Google giving them a pat on the back, there was something going on under the hood.
Behind the scenes these websites had internal pages optimised for keywords like ‘car insurcance’ , ‘no win no fee’ , ‘perfume’ , ‘loans’ amd many more. These internal pages were loaded with anchor text links, thousands of them (most paid) and when I say anchor text I meant the exact anchor text.
For whatever reason Google decided the home pages of these sites were more relevant to show in the SERP’s, but gave the home pages the ‘anchor power’ of the deeper page. Build highly optimised links to the deep page and watch the home page rank???
Now Google have switched to show deeper pages and the true ranking factor is there for all to see – massive amounts of anchor text from paid links.
Want Some Examples?
OK here we go……
In the no win no fee industry the National Accident Helpline were ranking with their home page for the keyword ‘no win no fee’. It looked like they had no links and zero anchor text, however when Google lifted the veil and showed their highly optimised internal page, exact match anchor heavy and clearly paid, we began to see that they were ranking their based on a strong anchor optimised internal page.
Now we have go compare, ranking at the top of Google for ‘car insurance’ a couple of months ago with what seemed to be a very under optimised brand focused home page, however again they had a deep page loaded with paid links and masses of exact anchor text pointing to a deep ‘car insurance’ page.
Again Google lifted the veil and we see the true reason why they were ranking so highly in the first place!! Mental..
Put Down Your Anchor Text!
Before you go rushing off building a gazillion anchor text links into that optimised internal page you have, first ask yourself why Google have done this?
Why have they begun to rank internal pages that have masses of exact match anchor text from clearly paid links?? I feel an up date coming???
I just can’t imagine Google letting link profiles like this stay at the top very long.
May Be I Am Wrong, Again
Of course I could be completely wrong and Google have simply decided to show the page that is most relevant rather than giving overall power to the home page. Maybe we should all start targeting specific internal pages for the keywords we want to rank for, maybe not.
This is your decision as a webmaster/SEO/online marketer, what are you going to do??
Does anchor text continue to dominate?
Does Google have a Christmas present for link buyers everywhere???
Any comments, discussions or answers would be appreciatedLine Break
Author: Tim (292 Articles)
Tim Grice is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 7 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 Head of Search at Branded3, an SEO agency in Leeds.