Does Anchor Text Still Matter?

By Vonya Griffin , on February 14, 2013 | Go to comments

ORLANDO, FLORIDA-Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday episode about a potentially new ranking factor was published on Nov. 16, but two months, multiple re-readings and lots of additional research later, I’m still digesting all the information.

He originally predicted that anchor text is dying and co-citation will replace it, but later edited the title of the post to say the importance of anchor text in SEO is weakening while co-occurrence is becoming a more prominent factor in ranking well and may replace it.

Fishkin is the CEO of SEOmoz and a prominent figure in the online search marketing industry so a lot of ears perk up when he makes big predictions. This Whiteboard Friday episode became one of the most popular ones in 2012 for the Moz community. Here are a few quick definitions in case you’re not fluent in SEO speak:

Anchor text-the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink that influences the ranking that the page will receive by search engines. For example, Sinai Marketing shares search engine optimization tips , techniques and updates on its blog. The words in blue are anchor text, and they influence how the linked page ranks in search engine results.

Co-occurrence-the theory that search engines have become sophisticated enough to understand context and they rank a website well based partially on the factor that a website and certain keywords were mentioned together on another website, even though the keyword wasn’t actually hyperlinked. For example, we might mention a website about dental marketing in one of our blog posts without linking directly to the site. If co-occurrence is at work, the search engine spider would intuitively associate that website with the words we used in relation to it.

“Co-occurrence is search engines learning to think and process information the way a human would,” says Ali Husayni, an SEO expert and the founder and CEO of Sinai Marketing. “That has always been Google’s goal, and it’s why we’re constantly encouraging people to focus on creating content that is for humans too, not just search engines.”

Back to Fishkin’s Whiteboard video though. He believes we’ll start to see more co-occurrence of terms and links in search queries, in text content, and in links becoming more of a factor. This is not the complete death of anchor text, he says, but he shows that anchor text is actually diminishing as a signal and being replaced by something else.

Another blogger responded to Fishkin’s post with a lengthy and detailed article guest posted on iAcquire about what’s really going on in SERPs, find the article here.

“Rand appears to be suggesting that SEO and PR are going to converge in a way that devalues traditional anchor signals in favor of content based co-occurrence signals,” says Joshua Giardino. “Under this model, to rank well, brands will have to focus on nurturing co-occurring mentions of their brand across the Web on pages that are topically relevant to the terms for which they hope to rank.”

Giardino thinks if Fishkin is correct, that this change will represent a powerful, new content-based ranking factor, a whole new class of signals that veers away from traditional ranking factors.

Fishkin must be confident about his prediction because he also included co-occurrence in his annual list of predictions for inbound marketing and SEO for the coming year. He says co-occurrence of brands and websites combined with keyword terms and phrases will be proved to have an impact on search engine rankings through correlation data, specific experiments or a combination of both.

“All over the Web we are seeing strong evidence to suggest it is already being used by Google’s super-intelligent algorithms,” Steve Davies says on his digital marketing and SEO blog, Spotted Panda. “I certainly predict it to expand to search engines actually learning to read all blog posts, news articles, information pages and social media the same as you or I would.” Know more about this article.

Husayni says he thinks co-occurrence will eventually become an important factor but says businesses need to focus on SEO basics and building content that is relevant to their consumers right now.

“You don’t need to worry about anchor text going away any time soon,” says Husayni. “For now, it’s here to stay, but we’ll be sure to let our readers know about impending changes. For now, focus on publishing regularly on your blog about interesting, useful topics for your readers.”

Want More? If you’re interested in jumping into the diminishing anchor text, increasing co-occurrence conversation from the beginning, start by watching Rand Fishkin’s original Whiteboard Friday video, then read Bill Slawski’s response to the topic: Not All Anchor Text is Equal And Other Co-Citation Observations. His article is a great read, but be prepared for a very technical article. The comments section on the article can help you get a better grasp on some of the ideas since Slawski seems to break down concepts into more basic terms. Joshua Giardino published a lengthy piece responding to both, and it’s chock full of research; just as technical but a bit easier to read: It’s Not Co-Citation, But It’s Still Awesome.

  1. February 14th, 2013 at 10:24 | #1

    I believe that anchor text is still the main and the most crucial signal but co-occurrence is also another factor that is becoming important and will help the search engines to retrieve and refine their search results to become more relevant to the searched terms.

  2. February 14th, 2013 at 19:22 | #2

    nice blog …i happy blogwalking in here,,,
    and hope to visit here every day

  3. February 15th, 2013 at 07:17 | #3

    Anchor text matters, if only used in small quantity. Excessive use of same anchor text can attract an animal named as Penguin to hit your site. So, better not to use exactly same anchor text again and again. You may also use some universal anchor texts like “visit website”, “click here” etc.

  4. February 16th, 2013 at 07:04 | #4

    Very good points Vonya. Although anchor-text is still very relevant, it’s been a while that co-occurrence has also gained momentum. Rand Fishkin is always on top of SEO trends.

  5. February 20th, 2013 at 00:08 | #5

    I think Anchor text plays an important role when Google bots analyze your content.
    The more you connect your content with external content by using relevant content – The more love Google gives you.

  6. February 20th, 2013 at 23:39 | #6

    Though people say anchor text is dead. Actually it’s not because it’s still in the feeding tube. Thanks for the article.

  7. March 3rd, 2013 at 04:25 | #7

    i am not expert in seo but normally my website come into google search through blog commenting with help of anchor text. According to me people say anchor text is dead but i think its never happen but excessive use of anchor text is not good

  8. March 18th, 2013 at 02:08 | #8

    Yes, anchor text is a very good way to get relevant links for page rank because if we add the link in an anchor text, is a very good impression from the search engine’s point of view. Good post and blog also ….

  9. March 27th, 2013 at 00:11 | #9

    Unfortunately, anchor text is not what it was a year ago. Presently one must be very careful on choosing the “right” anchors, since my experience shows that over-anchor-optimization has the opposite result – drives you out of SERP for the anchored terms.

  10. May 14th, 2013 at 13:55 | #10

    Thanks for Sharing. Google should tell us more about their search algorithm. I still going keep my Anchor Text to all my Backlink.

  11. June 1st, 2013 at 20:51 | #11

    I think that anchor text will matter and will most likely matter for quite a while.

    @sbellast: they’re not going to tell us anything otherwise we would use it to please ourselves and rank higher!

  12. June 27th, 2013 at 08:03 | #12

    Glad to have stumbled upon your article. As always, articles like this one can truly help anyone in the cyberspace business (I’m an online content writer by the way while at the same time blogger) to attain success. Thank you for sharing.

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