Planet13 - 6:23 pm on Mar 10, 2012 (gmt 0)
Great points, Robert:
to chime in, the ONLY evidence I have (and it is entirely anecdotal) tells me that:
1) Anchor text is alive and kicking
2) Surrounding text has lost influence.
Again, this is purely anecdotal.
Someone linked to a page of mine and used the keyword I was trying to rank for in the string of anchor text (along with three other words not really related to the keyword.)
That page started getting a LOT of referral traffic from the linking page right away, and then started getting a lot of traffic from google serps after a few days.
The surrounding text immediately outside of the link is irrelevant to the keyword or the topic of my page.
Of course, this is just ONE incident.