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Post-Penguin Update: Did Google Kill Exact Match Anchor Text?

It has been several months since search engine giant Google released an algorithm update that turned the world of Internet marketing on its head. The release of the web spam update, otherwise known as “penguin”, ushered in the demise of many once sacred SEO practices. While Google’s algorithm is constantly undergoing changes, enough time and research has taken place to allow a clear assessment of Penguin’s effect on SEO. One thing is absolutely certain; many once sacred SEO strategies are now extremely counterproductive to SERP success. The hardest hit of these old school SEO practices is the use of exact match anchor text

What Is Exact Match Anchor Text?

Once considered a fundamental element of intelligent link building, the practice of using a money keyword as the anchor text for the majority of a site’s inbound links now has the potential to be a death nail to search engine traffic. There once was a time when keyword stuffed articles and low quality automated blog comments were considered SEO gold. After the panda and penguin updates, those days are long gone. SEO has become a lot more time consuming for many marketers. With Google’s meteoric rise and recent Wall Street spotlight, there is every reason to believe that strict quality control will continue to be implemented for the foreseeable future.

Did Google Really Kill Exact Match Anchor Text?

While the blatant spamming of a keyword during link building is a recipe for disaster, it is important to understand that using exact match anchor text is still a viable SEO tactic. The key lays in making sure that your link building appears as natural as possible. Google views back-links as a vote of confidence from webmasters across the Internet. How likely is it that hundreds of people spontaneously decide to use your money keyword for their anchor text? Several studies have been conducted by industry insiders since the release of Penguin and the results are consistent. Sites that use main money keywords for less than 45% of their total back-link profile appear to be untouched by the latest algorithm update.

Intelligent Diversity

The most efficient strategy is to choose a few secondary keywords that relate to the topic of your site. You should also do adequate amounts of keyword research on your niche topic to help better identify profitable secondary keywords. This serves to add anchor text diversity while also bringing in respectable amounts of targeted traffic. Never make the mistake of wasting the majority of your anchor text on bland phrases like “click here”. While sprinkling it in every now and then on links of lower importance is acceptable, never waste a juiced up link on anchor text that doesn’t offer any value. When forced to choose between a generic phrase or a domain name as anchor text, always side with the domain name.

Also, make sure you only use a main keyword for anchor text on quality sites that are relevant to the niche you are targeting. If one is trying to keep a money keyword as anchor text for less than 30% of a site’s total link profile, it is completely irrational to waste it on garbage links created by automated software. Many leaders in SEO have been stressing the importance of anchor text diversity for years. Penguin sent a strong message to Internet marketers – if they insist on staying behind the curve, they will be rendered obsolete.