Robert_Charlton - 7:19 am on Jul 23, 2010 (gmt 0)
Has the anchor text signal been revised?
By itself, the test information in the article wouldn't make me think so. I've never felt that multiple repetitions of an exact phrase in any way looked "natural" to Google, and I'm often surprised that Google doesn't nuke sites that get thousands of exact matches for a short phrase.
By itself, the number of exact target phrase matches is kind of a simplistic metric.
Also, there's a factor which the article only mentions in passing... viz, Link anchor containing a "brand keyword"... which for me is what most probably accounts for the ranking.
The word "outdoor" in the company name, Cotswold Outdoor, coupled with some sufficiently good inbound links for the exact phrase... plus the right kind of page title and onpage text matches... should make the page do well for [outdoor clothing], and it does.
The backlink profile for Cotswold Outdoor is composed primarily of brand-related anchors. What stood out for me: only 2 percent of their total backlinks contain the term "outdoor clothing."
What stood out for me when I clicked on the serp link was that the title on the page returned wouldn't have ranked in the described competitive situation....
<title>Cotswold Outdoor - Home</title>
In fact, it isn't the page that's ranking. While a page with Flash content is served up to users, the default page (which you can see in the Google cache) is the page that ranks.
It has the exact phrase match both on the page and in the title, along with other helpful vocabulary on the page....
<title>Outdoor Clothing, Climbing and Camping Equipment | Cotswold Outdoor</title>
The text returned on the default page is in fact very well crafted to rank for [outdoor clothing] ...not entirely to be dismissed in analyzing why something ranks when it's also got sufficient inbounds in several combinations to confirm it.
It would be interesting to know what other phrases containing the words "outdoor" and "clothing" were included in various inbound anchors of all the sites. I think that the combination, along with page titles and onpage text, need to be considered all together.
And there are many other link quality factors left out of the discussion that are involved as well.