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The Truth about Exact Match Anchor Text

Isn’t this what we all strive for? This is what all SEOs aim to achieve when building links, right? Exact match anchor text has been the Holy Grail of links for a while now, but things aren’t like they used to be and Panda isn’t settling for convention.

It’s time for a change. The truth about exact match anchor text is that is doesn’t give your domain the most natural link profile, and in 2011 / 2011, “au naturel” is the new black.

Panda taught us that exact match isn’t as valuable as it used to be and we’ve already seen evidence of this. But there’s more. Many SEO experts expect exact match anchor text to fall even further in value – so what are we to do?

Tips for Anchor Text Links

Anchor text doesn’t always have to be rigorously exact. After all, that doesn’t look natural to a search engine. Here are some other ways of using anchor text in your link building campaign:

1. Partial match – choose anchor text which contains at least one of your chosen keywords or swap your words around to alter the phrase slightly. 2011 Ranking Factors by SEOMoz discusses the power of partial match anchor text against exact match. From their research, it appears that partial match had a slight upper hand, so this is a viable option for anyone who wants to vary link text.

2. Branded anchor text – earlier this year, we conducted a little experiment on the performance of branded anchor text. With ranking tests and in-depth analysis, we were able to conclude that bigger brands performed much better with SERPs, so it’s important to put more emphasis on branding.

3. Relevant anchor text – context is everything. If you’re not going for exact match, there are other signals which search engines may look for and this includes the on-page signals of the link source. So what does this means for link builders? It means that finding a relevant source is the first step, but after that, it’s beneficial to choose anchor text that harmonises with the on-page keywords.

Exact Match Anchor Text and Being Human

The truth is, search engines are becoming more and more advanced, and more and more human. So this means that our search marketing approach needs to be human too. If something feels unnatural, it will appear that way to the more sophisticated search engine.

So of course, there will always room in our hearts for exact match anchor text. But there are other alternatives to be considered, and we all need to apply much more concentration to creating a natural link profile.