Robert_Charlton - 2:43 am on Jul 12, 2013 (gmt 0)
...Google honestly keeps changing the "rules" so you never know. There are things that Matt Cutts advised that were OK or even enouraged 7 years ago (focus on relevant anchor text backlinks in good content), that now are "against the rules"
kanetrain - Are you talking about internal nav text or external inbounds?
Matt discouraged artificial anchor text inflation and paid backlinks from the beginning. So did Google's guidelines. I fault Google for not cracking down on it sooner. I suspect that Penguin didn't come earlier because of a concern about false positives, which is perhaps what created the algorithmic "loophole" that many tried to capitalize on. It sounds like you came to have a lot anchor text issues that eventually did hurt you, and I'm sorry about that.
I've spent a good part of my efforts over the years keeping clients from shooting themselves in the foot, and I've often had to argue about it. It amazes me how often webmasters chose not to believe that Google meant what it said in its guidelines. Possibly they didn't read them, but they did manage to learn about the loopholes.
Matt wrote this post in 2005, but posted in 2008 (he explains in the article)...
SEO Advice: Getting Links
Posted March 11, 2008 in Google/SEO, Leftovers
...here are some ways to get high-quality links without emailing, paying, or even paying attention to search engines...
I suppose it's difficult to tell people not to pay attention to search engines, or at least not in ways that are too obvious, but I don't think that Google is penalizing for things that they once encouraged.