Everyone in the search engine optimization industry knows that linkbuilding is a critical part of any SEO campaign. And 99% of them realize that anchor text matters – which means that a text link with your targeted keywords as the anchor text will help your site rank better for that particular keyword phrase versus having a link that does not have your keywords as the anchor text. So a link with “dog treats” will help your dog treat website rank higher for that keyword than a link with simply your URL “http://www.asdfafsafsdfsadfsadfs.com/dogtreetis.html” will.
So everyone agrees on both of those points. However, not everyone agrees on whether or not varying anchor text in links is better for SEO. Meaning, if you had 100 links pointing to your website, is it better to have all 100 links have the anchor text “dog treats” or is better to have 40 links with “dog treats” and 20 with “Bob’s dog treats” and 20 with “treats for your dog” and 20 with “click here for delicious snacks for your puppy.”
One school of thought is that having exact anchor text links for all of your links or as many of them as possible is better and that it’s just a waste of time to worry about varying your anchor text. I have done a lot of research on different websites’ in random industries and analyzed their backlink profiles and it seems time and time again, the sites that tend to rank the best are the sites that have the most exact anchor text links pointing to their sites. This should not be surprising since search engines are still technically in their infancy and they’ve always counted exact anchor text links signals to determine what a site is about and they obviously still consider them to be very important since these kinds of sites continue to rank very well.
However, the other school of thought is that it is critical for varying your anchor text in links because if you have 1,000+ brand new links just prop up out of nowhere and they all have the exact same keyword phrases in the anchor text, then these links are most likely unnatural and are only created simply for the cause of manipulating the search engine rankings for that keyword phrase, which the search engines definitely frown upon. Your site may get an instant boost to the top of the rankings if you have 1,000 brand new links with exact anchor text, but you will definitely drop eventually, whether due to an actual penalty of your site or via simply de-indexing all of these suspicious backlinks.
So my verdict – exact anchor text links are still very important and should remain a top priority, but it’s also important to vary your anchor text for the best chances of staying power. The search engines are constantly evolving and getting smarter, so the more varied and more “natural” your backlink profile is, the better off your site will likely do in the long-run. It’s not only important to vary your anchor text, but it’s important to vary the sources and the neighborhoods of your backlinks – meaning it’s good to have links from blogs, press releases, articles, quality directories, social media such as Facebook and Twitter, reputable community sites, forums, and so on.