The question of anchor text is still heavily debated. However, ever since the Penguin Update, websites with too many optimized anchor text links have been penalized consistently.

The reason is simple: Google wants natural SEO. That is, SEO that happens without the optimizer needing to game Google’s algorithm.

Google has designed an algorithm that works alongside with online businesses, to give rankings to the businesses that provide the most value. In other words, if your business provides value, people will link to it. And the more natural links you have, the better your site will do in the rankings.

If you spend your time building thousands of anchor text optimized backlinks, that is clearly gaming Google’s algorithm. Because the everyday person doesn’t understand that anchor text means anything in links. Therefore, they don’t optimize anchor texts when linking.

In other words, over-optimized anchor text is unnatural!

Therefore, we can determine if the over-optimized anchor text is unnatural and hurts websites, taking the natural route will have the opposite effect: increasing our rankings!

How Do People Link?

When you link to a page, how do you do it? In general, it depends on the type of website. But for most people, when linking, a copy+paste of the link is sufficient. So if your website is, the majority of your links will likely be that exact anchor text:

If someone does change the anchor text, it generally includes the brand name. So someone may not just copy and paste, but instead, they’ll use your brand name as the anchor text. In our above example, it would be “money-making tips”.

This is how people link. The link to your BRAND. And this is how Google wants you to build your business! By building a strong brand, and building links to that brand, you build your brand authority.

If you are going to build links, instead of using perfectly optimized anchor text, try thinking like the average visitor. Build links that are naturally optimized, not over-optimized with perfect anchor text!

But How Do I Rank For Specific Keywords?

Now, it’s easy enough to say, “build natural links”. But this presents a problem. One of the main reasons why you’d use optimized anchor text is to rank for specific keywords. For example, with our money-making tips website, one such keyword could be “make money online”.

Really, the solution to this problem is simple. You can still build optimized anchor text links, but not in bulk! This is why brand authority is so important. You build up the authority for your domain, and then you can send a very small handful of perfectly optimized links for a specific keyword. Then, thanks to your original brand authority, these links will have exponentially more power than before.

One Step Further

Also, if you’d like to rank for specific keywords, remember how people link to websites, and use that to your advantage!

For example, if you wanted to rank a page for “make money online”, you could have permalinks like this:

What we’ve done here is very simple. We’ve included the keyphrase we’re targeting in the permalink. This way, when someone links to our site using the most common method (copy and paste), they’ll automatically be linking with optimized anchor text! And this will be a completely natural link!

Closing Thoughts

As you can see, post-Panda and Penguin link building is different, but not completely. Really, it’s all about doing what we should’ve been doing all along: focusing on the BRAND, not the individual pages we want ranking!

If the brand has enough SEO authority, you’ll find yourself easily gaining rankings for competitive keywords you’re also targeting – especially if you build a handful of optimized links and take advantage of permalinks!

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