Should You Use Anchor Text & Keywords in Link Building Post Penguin? Answers From Experts


Without a doubt, on page optimisation has become a much more important factor in ranking well in search engines. The value associated with linking has declined, but even more importantly, linking with anchor text and keywords is a potentially delicate component of SEO these days. Various iteration of Penguin punishes webmasters who does not get the linking right.

With Penguin 3.0 expected shortly (according to Barry Schwartz). I wonder how top SEO practitioners implement their linking strategy to ensure a Penguin safe linking campaign. Do they use anchor text in their link building or do they just link to a page with the website url? Here is what the leading SEO specialist who took part in my Link Building Roundup have to say.

A BIG Thank you to SEO experts who participated in this link building strategy roundup, they are:

The question I asked them was “Do You Use Anchors With Targeted Keywords For Link Building Today?”


Chris Gilchrist

Typically never nowadays. Assuming a domain had a decent profile volume though and didn’t include any anchors (unusual, yes) other than brand then I wouldn’t be too worried about including KW anchors within a sentence style link but going forward there’s far more important things to concentrate on to boost a domain.


Zac Johnson

When building links (which isn’t as often lately), I’m usually focusing on getting backlinks with the domain name as the backlink. This is mainly due to the type of sites I am running and ranking for (ie: and — as you can see, the domains are both exact matches for keywords I want to rank for anyway. With all the changes and movements from Google lately, link building hasn’t been a main focus lately.

Gianluca Fiorelli

Gianluca Fiorelli

I do! Not using them editorially if justified is silly, as they are a recognized search entity and because they still have a strong correlation with rankings.

The important is not using them in some manipulative “toxic” pattern.

dimitar dimitrov

Dimitar Dimitrov

- First I’d like to thank you for your time reading this interesting article! If I answer “No” I’ll lie. Me and my team we use targeted keywords for link building but in more holistic approach than ever before. We are doing more link baiting and we give our best to actually navigate people (with indirect messages and words) to use the desired keywords in anchors when linking to the desired page or domain.

About an year ago it was damn hard to actually create something good as a result without paying real money for it (even for editorial links). People were using all sorts of keywords – from term-related to totally nonsense words in anchors. It was our fault because our campaigns were unclear as a message and call to action. Few months ago we finally managed to get a pretty good results with one eCommerce project. All we did was give clear message about the product and the desired keyword or phrase. We just used it in our bait message. Now we are doing it almost all the time because it simply works.

Overall exact keywords are still a major factor when it comes to rankings. There are many, many proofs out there although search engines (especially Google) are getting pretty good at penalizing the bad manipulative tactics. But the usage of exact match keywords, combined with brand term still delivers very good results. It is just harder to do it than few years ago because now you must be creative and give your best while trying to make users like whatever you’re trying to sell them. But it is way more exciting and fun… and cool when you manage to do it right.

kane jamison

Kane Jamison

No, we don’t request or specify any anchor text while doing outreach. If we want a specific anchor text, we’ll include it in the title and headline for the page, and the targeted anchor text will happen naturally. For a website doing everything else pretty well, that will be sufficient in most verticals.

neil patel

Neil Patel

I used to use rich anchor text when building links 3 plus years ago, but I have stopped since. It is an easy way to get penalized.

A better way to build links is through content marketing. If you write great content or create awesome infographics you will find that people will link to you using random anchor text. Eventually this will cause your site to rank for all kinds of long tail terms, which will drive more traffic than head terms.

patrick coombe

Patrick Coombe

Ignore Anchors Like the Plague!!

I think the people with the hardest time with this fact are ex-blackhat SEO’s that saw instant results with this type of link building with targeted anchor text.

As an agency SEO, I see a lot of SEO companies “take matters into their own hands,” buy link packages, and use all of their money keywords in a few hundred spammy links all at once.

For me everything is about risk / reward. Sure, getting a bunch of links with your targeted anchor text might get you some more rankings. But what if those links send you over the edge and into the penalty box?

To me, it isn’t worth it. Being that I promote / manage small to medium sized businesses, it just doesn’t make sense.

simon penson

Simon Penson

This is a question we revisit regularly but our consistent internal conclusion is always that we should not try to affect anchor text. It should be set naturally, either by the influencer we are working with our our own writer if we are providing ready-made PR features etc.

We are aware that using a certain percentage of partial and/or exact match anchor text does still work but our view is that we would rather not unnaturally effect that process in terms of how others choose to link to brands and/or content. Eventually Google will look at those that are using it and that carries a level of risk that we are just not comfortable with taking with our client campaigns.


richard merriot

Richard Marriott

I use anchors with targeted keywords all the time. I know it’s a little frowned upon and a lot of people say you shouldn’t do it, but as long as you do it sparingly I think there’s no harm in it.

There is, however, a difference between onsite and offsite links.

If I earn an offsite link, I don’t care what keywords are used in the anchor, as long as the page it’s on is in context with what my post is about.

Onsite inner links are where I play around with using targeted keywords in my anchor text because I can keep an eye on them and also change the anchor text whenever I like.

This is a lot safer for SEO!

One tip I’d definitely recommend is when using inner link juice to shift a post in the SERPs, use targeted keywords in your anchor text on the pages that have higher page authority (PA) and use more loosely targeted keywords on the pages with less PA.

For example, let’s say I wrote an 8,000 word guide on shaving sheep and my target keyword is “sheep shaving”.

To give this page a boost in the SERPs I want to add some inner link juice from a handful of pages on my site.

I’ve chosen 3 onsite pages to add a link to my sheep shaving guide, and these 3 pages all have different PA:

a) PA16

b) PA44

c) PA21

Because option b) has the most PA, this is the page I will put a link to my guide on with an exact keyword match:

a) freshly shaven sheep

b) sheep shaving guide here

c) been shaving sheep since 1881

And as you can see the other pages have looser variations.

Why does this work? Who knows.

I treat SEO like an art, not a science. This formula has worked wonders for me and will work for you too if you give it a try.


dan steller

Dan Stelter

5% of the time, I’m willing to use exact-match targeted anchor text. I never use it on guest posts anymore. I’m willing to use partial-match anchor text 5% of the time as well. Google wants a natural link profile, so I focus on creating as large of a diversity of anchor texts as possible – mostly brand name and URL.


victoria ignatieva

Viktoria Ignatieva

I’d gladly answer that we don’t use targeted keyword phrases in our work, but actually it depends. In about 90% we use only URL or domains as anchors, because in other ways it’s easy to get Google’s manual actions for spammy links. But in some cases, when it’s a small website it’s hard to get results without targeted keyword phrases. But we don’t use exact match phrases anyway and use anchor phrases that sounds naturally. We also add brand’s name to keywords.

At least this how our SEO specialists works with links by themselves. Our seperate link building department don’t use targeted keyword in their work, because such links won’t harm your link profile and will help to gain good results.


Dan sharp

Dan Sharp

No. We don’t ever use or request links with specific keyword anchor text. If someone wants to link to you, then they will decide how they link to you quite naturally. You don’t lots of anchor text to rank anymore and it’s the fundamental signal the search engines use still to identify manipulated link profiles.


bill sebald

Bill Sebald

I still think anchors have value. I still think about them in my link building; maybe it’s the old-head SEO in me, but now far less than I used to. I almost always leave the anchor text creation up to the publishers’ discretion. The power of the anchor text, in my opinion, seems very conditional – much more than 3 years ago. I believe the line for where a commercial anchor text is valuable vs. spammy is so algorithmically complicated, I don’t even try to guess. It’s like trying to solve keyword density or text/code ratios. On top of it, with so many other signals, it just doesn’t seem like a question worth trying to accurately answer. There’s plenty of other SEO and marketing work where time can be better spent.


Harris Schachter

Harris Schachter

Yes, I use anchors with targeted keywords not only because they work, but because they are a natural feature of communication. When people write content and want to provide their visitors with as much relevant information as possible, they use phrases within links to suggest what the person will find on that linked page. This is probably the reason why Google adopted a link-based system to begin with; because they found that the frequencies and the ways in which links are used actually mean something. So for this reason, I think anchor text will never lose it’s value, just as apostrophes, commas, or semi-colons will never lose their value. These are simply features of written communication.

robbie richards


Robbie Richards

It’s common knowledge in the SEO world that over-optimizing anchor text is a sure fire way to trigger a Penguin penalty. As a result, I focus on building balanced anchor text distribution.

When building links I try to include a healthy balance of non-brandedlong-tail keyword variations, synonyms, branded terms, naked URLs and generic CTAs (eg. click here, read more etc) in the anchor text. When I have direct control over the contextual placement of the anchor text, I focus more on placing relevant keywords in close proximity to the anchor, a great way to build co-citations, which is a much safer (and more powerful) way to boost the relevancy of your link profile.

bob jones

Bob Jones

Link building needs to be done in a way that makes Google think that the links they are seeing are the result of a natural occurrence. What we do is look at trusted seed websites that rank high and do a backlink check on them. We then categorise the types of anchor text, such as “click here”, “read more”, “”, “anchor text” etc and compare ratios.

Our link building project will use those ratios as a guideline to distribute branded, targeted and generic anchor text.

We know for a fact that Google is in constant flux and even ranking signals such as exact match domains seem to have increased in importance again, even though Google tells us differently. People are scared to use anchor text as links these days, but think about the amount of people with websites that don’t think about or even know SEO. They often still link with descriptive anchors and Google can’t completely discount those signals.


As you can see, even TOP SEO specialists do not have very clear position on link building with anchor text. Some of them do not use anchors with targeted keywords to be in safe. Some of them are still using it because it is almost impossible to rank for high for any competitive keywords without using anchor text

Others use a mixture of anchors text with targeted keywords and with not keywords.

One thing that is clear is that you have to approach this very carefully because it is quite difficult to recover from manual or algorithmic penalty if you get your linking strategy wrong.

Happy Link Building!

Essential SEO for YouTube

Essential SEO for YouTube Video & Channel

Optimising your YouTube Video

YouTube is often overlooked as a marketing tool by many companies but it can become a great source of traffic, views and engagement for any online business owner with just a modest investment. Whether you want to promote a production services, establish yourself as an expert in your niche or just raise awareness of your brand, YouTube is unparalleled in terms of video marketing. And because YouTube is a Google-owned company, it is perfectly tailored to get your videos ranking well in Google’s search engine results pages.

Below are some tips that will help you to improve the SEO of your videos and maximise the potential audience that you can reach.

More Than Just Video Sharing

YouTube is more than just a video platform; it is also a platform for engagement. You can make video series, annotate your uploads and talk to your users in comments threads, and run channels which show videos related to your chosen subject. What’s more YouTube is a search engine itself. Google uses a large number of elements to determine the ranking of videos in YouTube but YouTube itself also uses a whole host of factors to determine where to rank your video when searches are made within YouTube itself.If you want to have a chance of your videos being featured within Google or YouTube search, then you will need to make an effort to understand the ranking factors.

The algorithm considers trust, authority, channel strength, keywords, popularity, reactions and more when ranking videos. A video that gets lots of external links, comments, and views will rank better than one no one has watched. However, this is something of a chicken and egg situation. How can you get people to watch videos if the most important ranking factors are popularity? Well, there are some other ranking factors that you can control more easily, and focusing on those is a good starting point.

It might seem obvious but the most important aspect of video marketing is producing high-quality video content. That’s not to say you shouldn’t always have the SEO angle in the back of your mind though. A video that is in HD will always be promoted over a lower-quality video for instance. This is both a video quality and an SEO benefit.

Videos that include keywords in their annotations and descriptions are more likely to show up in the search results than ones that do not, and videos that have links to them, and links going out from them, are also likely to perform well. If you can include the above, and select an attractive thumbnail for your video so that it gets clicks when it is displayed, then your rankings are likely to improve.

Getting Started with your YouTube Channel

Another aspect that is often overlooked in YouTube marketing is your YouTube channel. Whilst this won’t affect the SEO of your individual YouTube videos, it is vitally important to know the dos and don’ts so when users do decide to click through to your channel they get the best possible experience.So for example you should

  • Never mix your corporate and consumer content
  • Never put your most popular content at the top of your channel, although it may seem tempting to do so
  • Never put TV ads at the top
  • Order your content using hashtags
  • Use hashtags to help connect your channel and videos with other relevant channels

Past channel performance is an important ranking factor too. So once you have a couple of videos that are performing well, you can expect that future videos will have a head start. That’s not to say that every video is guaranteed a huge number of views, but once you have one popular piece of content, Google will support you and help your other videos to grow. As with most other parts of doing business, those first few videos are the hardest to promote and to build popularity with.


These YouTube SEO tips are just the basics. As with any other form of marketing, rigorous testing is important. Every audience has different tastes and preferences, and the more you know about your audience the more accurately you will be able to target your video content and your SEO. You can use your popular video content to promote your website or your social media feed, and build a loop of self-sustaining social media channels for people to engage with.


Author Bio: Jon Mowat used to make documentaries for the BBC.Nowadays he can be found running video production and marketing company, Hurricane Media, based in Bristol, England. You can follow Hurricane on Google+ or Facebook.

Shock! as Londoners Talk to Each Other With Help From National Theatre

National Theatre,  Watch This Space Festival - Peckham Performance

National Theatre, Watch This Space Festival – Peckham Performance

It may seem counter intuitive to think that, the best place to hide or lead an anonymous life is a large city like London, with a population of 8 million. But when you consider the hectic pace of life and other factors, such as the fact that Londoners hardly talk to each other (at least not in the tube or on buses), London is actually the best place in the country for someone who is seeking anonymity, to live.

A Londoner, who was once seduced by the charms of rural idyll went to live in a village for a couple of years, on his return to London said he prefers the anonymity of London, “In the two years I lived in the village, I knew everyone’s business and they all knew mine”. He finds this level of familiarity to be too great, and was pleased to get back to London.

Some people welcome the anonymity of the capital city, while others think it’s something that should be changed. Whichever side of the debate you are on, one thing you will find difficult to resist, is the non-London like behaviour of talking to other Londoners in a public place (except to apologise when you bump into someone or they into you). For a brief session, lasting about 45 minutes or so, ‘National Theatre’s Watch This Space’ Festival completely change the behaviour of Londoners.

National Theatre Watch This Space Festival

National Theatre Watch This Space - Peckham Square

National Theatre Watch This Space – Peckham Square

In Peckham Square, a group of performers stretched out a hand to invite onlookers to join them. As each volunteer joined a performer, the volunteer was invited to lie down next to the performer, using the performer’s case as a pillow. The author of this piece volunteered to join a performer who he tried to engage in conversation, but the performer just smiled and did not talk. After lying down for what seemed like a few minutes, the performer got up, and, motioning for the author to stay put, he returned with a new volunteer who took his place.

The performer went away again, returning with yet another volunteer, this time, the new volunteer was invited to lie below the author, using the author’s knees as a pillow to rest his head.
Within a short space of time, the performers got about 25 or more people lying next to each other or below each other and surprise, surprise, these stranger were introducing themselves and talking to each other in a non-London manner!

This fantastic open air performance I later learned was by the National Theatre and it’s called Watch This Space. There was a group hug after the performance between the volunteers and the performers.
Your can find out more about the performance and National Theatre at their website

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