JudgeJeffries - 9:03 am on Apr 8, 2007 (gmt 0)
Crush - that is exactly my experience.
It needs to be looked at page by page and variation on an individual page basis is not necessary. I think all this talk about varying anchor text to look natural is twaddle put about by the search engines to diminish the demand for the links companies who have such an obvious effect on the serps.
What they may have done is downgraded the effect of reciprocal links in favour of one ways, and they may have introduced a delay factor but that of course is a completely different matter.
Notwithstanding that possibility however you will still trump a competitor if you have thousands of reciprocal links all saying red widgets, natural or not. Ask some of the spammers who read here how they do it and to a man they seem to see little point in the finesse of varying anchor text. They hit the problem with both barrels i.e. red widget - red widget.
I have recently analysed all of the links to one of my competitors sites. He is a well known spammer who moves in the right(wrong?) circles and every one of his links uses the same anchor text - he beats me every time.