Google’s SEO Starter guide, published in 2010 discouraged webmasters from opting for generic links. The guide specified that anchor text such as “click here”, “article”, “useful site”, and “page”, among others needed to be avoided.
The Penguin update further hit down hard on exact match anchor text and SEOs scrambled to look at other options such as partial match, nofollow links, and URL links, and a few others that seemed to stay on the right side of Google’s Penguin. Google encourages webmasters to make use of descriptive words while linking since this helps in creating relevancy matches when ranked by their search engine bots.
While Google may punish over-optimized anchor text, here are a few SEO options that can help your website from getting Penguined. One simple option to exact match links is to opt for synonyms in your anchor text. Thus, for example, you can use “join” or “merge” instead of “combine” in your anchor text. You can easily seek out matching synonyms by using the “~” or tilde feature in Google search by typing the desired word after the ~ sign. In addition, you can also combine the search with the “-“ or negative feature to get hold of high quality keywords for your anchor text.
Another option is to use the names of people in your company or organization such as the name of the company Chairman, Secretary, CEO, etc. This can be especially useful while creating the “About Us” pages or “Profile Pages” of people that form an important part of your company.
One more option to exact match anchor text is related text. Most search engines including Google give relevance to the anchor phrase as well as related phrases. However, the key is to ensure your related phrases are actually related to content on the linked pages or you could end up getting penalized by way of poor rankings.
Another related trick is to opt for partial match anchor text that has a minimum of one keyword. You need to select the best possible keyword while avoiding the use of the entire phrase. However, this option has the ability to get abused quickly and you need to ensure that you do not end up fouling the Penguin’s mood with this strategy.
If your company or product has achieved impressive brand equity over time then you can turn them into unique links that can ensure excellent ranking. Again, this strategy requires that you firmly establish your brand visibility before including the name in your anchor text since it could be construed as spam by search engines unfamiliar with your company or product name.
One last option is to opt for URL links, especially when you may have moved to a new site address. You may not achieve a lot of benefit with this option, but you can certainly include this option along with the others mentioned above.
When implementing the above options, it is always important to ensure that your links look natural and do not look as though you are trying to manipulate search engine results. When inserted perfectly, these generic link options will deliver improved rankings while helping you avoid your site from getting Penguined.