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Oh, I hate anchor text importance so much.

Am getting plain url links.

     
3:23 am on Jun 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I have a problem. Except for the directory links where anchor texts are the norm and contains one relevant keyword (I submit the title with 4-5 keywords, though, all but one get edited out) normally, most of my other links are url only.

Main reason is that none of them is a professional webmaster like most of you are and url only or "click here" anchors come most naturally to them.

Since Google presumably wants to reward organic results, my question is, shouldn't url only links be valued more by Google than the anchor text links, mostly used by SEOs or SE-aware webmasters.

Is it wishful thinking?

My (il)logic is as follows:

1. Link text were important long time ago when SEs lacked the sophistication or were lazy to know what the links were all about and therefore, relied on webmasters to guide them. Just like the keyword density where one had to keep 7-20% level (perhaps true for Yahoo even today) to make them understand what the page was about.

2. However, nowadays just like a very low kwd is good enough for SEs, lack of anchor text should not prevent SEs from knowing what the link is all about. If the linking page is about safety and your side is about widgets, Google should be able to guess what the link is all about without seeing the anchor text.

3. If I go to a link page with all inward and outgoing links with very nice "money" keywords, I know that there is a SEO at work. On the other hand, if I visit a page with all url links or silly anchor texts or useless links like "my favorite search engines" heading followed by links to 20 search engines, I know that this one is the other extreme. Shouldn't Google value links from this second page more since it is more likely going to be organic? (Of course, over passage of time, all SEO work will involve pretending to be organic including putting a few 404 links - from the home page, I am talking about short-term.)

7:47 am on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I agree anchor text has been granted too much value.

Several years ago as a normal webmaster I didn't care about the anchor text, and of course I was not aware that anchor text had major influence on your business. It's unfair for those poor webmasters who still don't have such awareness and the companies those webmasters work for. It's true that anchor text has high relevance with the search term. But I believe there're many many websites, with much more relevant content, that do not have the keyword as the link text. In the logics of current search engine technology they might have been buried deeply.

Anchor text has become a powerful tool for search engine optimizers, instead of a natural and accurate index of relevance. I'd say.

9:56 am on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I agree too.

And I think Google may also be very, very slowly changing their search algorithms to reflect this. Slow, so that nobody notices, and also to monitor its effectiveness (search relevancy) over a period of time.

10:27 am on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Anchor is important yes and it is out of your powers to control how other people place the link on their homepage (except if you pay them of course).

However anchor on internal pages also counts heavily and the good thing is that you control them :).

The higher PR is good for deepcrawls and value your pages higher. The internal pages are a very rich source to create some good anchors. :)

Take your advantage. (as long as you are not my competitor of course). LOL.

10:37 am on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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It's unfair for those poor webmasters who still don't have such awareness and the companies those webmasters work for.

I don't see how it is unfair to them, because they are not aware does not make it unfair. Just because they have never heard of it or they have decided not to give it the full attention that it deserves then that does not make it unfair, if and when they discover the true value then you can bet you're next month's adsense earnings that they will be thinking of search engine friendly link text at all times.

In the mean time, be thankful that they are not aware and pray it takes them another few months to get to where you are or you will find yourself with more competition.

Craig

11:05 am on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Just a thought, have you tried re-writing your page titles?

My experience is it's easier to get the anchor text you want by having that anchor text in your page title (and I would reduce the 4-5 words you have to 3 or 4).

You can always change it again.

The dmoz editor guidelines specify that page title is the preferred anchor to use, except where the page title is not descriptive.

TJ

1:02 pm on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>Just a thought, have you tried re-writing your page titles?

Thanks for pointing this out. This could be part of the problem. However, it is probably too late with the existing directories containing link to my site - any update request is bound to be viewed with suspicion and I don't want to take any chances. However, I will try this with the new requests.

Other websites that have given my plain url links, give similar link to other too and I cannot do much about that.

However, when a few commercial websites linked to me under reciprocal linking, they did provide me with exactly the anchor text I wanted. However, I have got this uneasy feeing that instead of helping me, this might hurt me in long-run by letting Google know which keywords I am targeting and 'penalize' me to deliver 'organic' results.
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>But I believe there're many many websites, with much more relevant content, that do not have the keyword as the link text.

True, For example, I am targeting a particular keyphrase. I believe that my site contain the most information on that and is designed reasonably well for that. However, it shows up around #6-#8 in the serps, overtaken by sites that got links from DMOZ (and probably others too) with that part of that particular keyphrase. Can't be sure but this anchor text importance might have played a role in that.
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>However anchor on internal pages also counts heavily and the good thing is that you control them :).

True, and I think that is what is keeping my site alive in the serps. Still, it would be nice to be #1 instead of say, #9. :)

<added content>

2:05 pm on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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It's unfair for those poor webmasters who still don't have such awareness and the companies those webmasters work for.

I wouldn't call this unfair... and even if it WAS unfair who says everything has to be fair? Playing the search engine game is an ongoing process. Even though you may consider yourself an "expert" today, all it would take is ONE revision and you have to start guessing just as much as the newbies.

Anyway, I do like the original suggestion though. I keep hearing about how important the anchor text is, but honestly aside from the "miserable failure" thing I haven't really seen it that often. Also I think having to manipulate the search engines by using keyword-based anchor text makes the site look sloppy. If I wanted to link to Cisco Systems, the text of the link would say Cisco Systems ... not "routers" or "switches" or any of that crap. It looks completely amateur to have links going out of your site with keywords in the anchor text.

I can't really complain though, my pages do fine with the natural results (top 3 on most of my KW's) and I have virtually no one linking to me. Those few (under 7) that do have my company name as the Anchor text. Therefore, we know that Google IS smart enough to "know" what a page is about - if they want to weigh inbound links I'm all for that, but the anchor text should really have nothing to do with it.

3:54 pm on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I can see no reason why anchor text should be highly regarded by search engines, HOWEVER, I can see an argument for page-relevancy ie reward sites with backlinks from relevant pages. This make much more sense to me.

Kaled.

5:58 pm on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>>It looks completely amateur to have links going out of your site with keywords in the anchor text.

digitalv, I tend to agree with you on that point, except that to me it looks SEO'd. Not that I don't do it, but I'm not 100% comfortable with it. Neither am I with multi-hyphen domain names - they look SEO'd which in itself to my eye looks less than natural.

Where the anchor text does look natural, imho, is when there is a paragraph within the body of a page that would be talking about routers and Cisco Systems and routers would be the anchor text of a link within the context of the paragraph. That looks perfectly natural to me and also would emphasize the topic of the paragraph for the user.

It's not empirically proven but I also believe that links within the body text of a page might possibly carry more weight than those in global navigation or in the "template" parts of pages. That seems logical, I think they should.

6:15 pm on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I've had luck using hyphens in my individual file names. A lot of the times, people will just link to me w/ the url as the anchor text. If it's in the form of domain.com/keyword-phrase.html, you get a bit of a boost. Not as strong as an exact match in the anchor text, but it sure beats domain.com/randomname.html.

Of course, hyphens as a long term strategy hav been debated to death.

6:40 pm on June 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>It's not empirically proven but I also believe that links within the body text of a page might possibly carry more weight than those in global navigation or in the "template" parts of pages. That seems logical, I think they should.

I use both, links within the body text and on special links pages. I think that many visitors who just fell into my site and have no time to read my lenghty keyword-laden text would be better served by being sent to those links pages and finding out quickly what they are likely looking for.

Even on my body text pages, I think putting most of the links at the bottom (or top) helps them to find the links soner. Just like the bibligraphy section of theses.

Even when these links are in the text, I think the following format might be more useful than the format that follows which is common among SEos. [bold for clickable]

Example 1: ... One nice search engine is Google (www.google.com) that was started by two Stanford Graduate students ....

Example 2: One nice Search engine is Google that was started by two Stanford Graduate students ....

10:23 am on June 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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So if anchor text should be devalued, has anyone got a suggestion of what to replace it with? Certainly not PageRank. That has already been dumped.
1:08 pm on June 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>So if anchor text should be devalued, has anyone got a suggestion of what to replace it with? Certainly not PageRank. That has already been dumped.

It has already been mentioned, ie things like page relevency. Say the linking page contains text that indicates that it is about widget safety. Even the links are to pages SE knows are related to safety.

To make it finer, check the "neighborhood" text and links. If they indicate relevance for side safety and for different countries like the USA, UK, and the nearest country text is Australia, guess that the link is about "Side safety of widget in Australia." Confirm it by matching with the attributes of the linked page/site.

Anchor text is like meta descriptions. Useful to some extent, but has been abused. Just like Google does not use meta description to determine what a page is all about, why should it use anchor text?

A side benefit is that Googlebombing will almost vanish.

10:02 am on June 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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So if anchor text should be devalued, has anyone got a suggestion of what to replace it with? Certainly not PageRank. That has already been dumped.

In my opinion, a good solution (i.e. a medium-term strategy with improvement of the SERPs) would be
- increasing the weight of PR and decreasing the weight of anchor text while leaving the on-page / off-page relation unchanged
- removing all information about PR
- changing the PR sources
- removing all information about backlinks

11:27 am on June 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I think giving us even approximate PR data like we're getting now is a kindness to webmasters on their part. If people can get into trouble by linking to bad neighborhoods they'd be left in total ignorance which sites to avoid. Even with what we've got now, though not current and accurate, it's a measure of protection we can use.
12:28 pm on June 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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You can't improve the algo go by using page content. That's where we started out. SEO pages are stuffed with keywords.

The fact is Google is caught between a rock and a hard place. They've got a dial that they can turn between anchor text and pagerank. These are the only off page factors they can use in practice.

I don't see how searching for relevance in the vicinity the anchor text can help either. Often links pages have all links for one subject grouped together. This means they would be considered relevant.

Until Google comes up with something else off page they are stuck with what they have.

2:38 pm on June 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I have a different question. If i want to rank high for the word widget, what anchor text is better:

widget

or

widget blabla

I know some sites which only use the word widget as anchor text and they rank very high. In my opinion this should get a penalty. Because natural linking doesn't go that way.

8:59 pm on June 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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So if anchor text should be devalued, has anyone got a suggestion of what to replace it with? Certainly not PageRank. That has already been dumped.

I think we'll find that as Yahoo and MSN develop their new search technologies, we'll see more competition in providing less artificially manipulated search results. For example, I just read MSN's new technology will involve statistical analysis to specifically weed out link farms and sites that are too "artificial" in their linking strategies.

Incoming links are an important off-page measure of a page's relevancy. But more needs to be done to assure these links are real "votes" and not just artificial ballot box stuffing. I sense G has grown lazy with developing their algorithm to defeat Googlebombing. It's obvious (to me) the push for a better G (less artificially manipulated results) isn't going to come from within - or Googlebombing should have become less a problem by now. Thus I welcome Yahoo and MSN's more serious entrance into the search arena, as I feel they will provide what real competition generally provides - a better product.

9:39 pm on June 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The trouble with that line of thought is that Yahoo consistently demonstrates that it is far more interested in making money from search that providing good results. Hence the retiring of alltheweb.

And MS would appear to be years behind in terms of a viable product.

It's hard to see things changing dramatically any time soon

10:53 pm on June 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Statistical anyalysis to weed out all the sites who link artifically?

heh heh. Aren't those same sites the ones with the money who have scale to provide a good service to their customers? So who will be left in MSN's search engine? Mom and dad's widget store, open 3 days a week from 11 'til 3?

Methinks MSN will need to remodel their results when they find all the big boys are filtered out.

10:53 pm on June 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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And MS would appear to be years behind in terms of a viable product.

MS bot is, and has been active for some months. Fairly credible reports say the new MSN Search Engine will be launched around the end of this year, others say early next year.

11:21 pm on June 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Statistical analysis to weed out all the sites who link artificially?

I don't think MSN believes they will weed out "all" artificially linked sites, but they just might be able to catch those doing so considerably well outside the "norm".

But the point of my original post was to say there is more that can be done to reduce artificial linking than is currently being done (in fact some suggestions have been made in this thread to look for more on-page relevancy from linking pages and from the neighborhoods to which they belong). I don't mean to say MSN or Yahoo will be the great answer to search relevancy. Just that competition is a good thing and competing technologies is probably our best hope for improvement in this area.

11:45 pm on June 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If Google's objective is to bring informational sites to top of serps then reliance on anchor text is counter-productive, in my view.

My non-directory links are from amateur sites(mostly url as text), academic institutions ("click here" types) and commercial widget sellers (exact keyword-stuffed anchor texts I provided them for reciprocal linking).

Come to think of it, anchor text should have negative weights!

6:35 am on June 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>>> Come to think of it, anchor text should have negative weights!

If Google were to believe you, their serp will be jeopardized with irrelevant results. That would hurt Google more than help.

11:25 pm on June 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I think Google saw what happened late last year when they did a superb job of weeding out the SEO sites.

The trouble was that what was left was total dross, at least for commercial searches. It stands to reason that the SEO sites will likely be the ones who will best serve the customer. Weeding them out means taking away the most focused and possibly aggressive companies. That's bad for the consumer.

Good results doesn't just mean unbiased results. It means delivering what the searcher wants. And in the case of a potential buyer it means delivering a keen and willing seller of a product. You can be sure the keenest are doing their SEO.

9:18 am on June 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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It looks completely amateur to have links going out of your site with keywords in the anchor text.

On the contrary. Nothing looks better than relevant links in body text.

There's also speculation about Google weighing anchor text of outbound links, as an on-the-page factor for the page containing the link ("you are what you link to").