I personally hate talking about "post penguin" topics -- because the reality is that few websites were even hit and the advice we've been giving as a community hasn't changed -- but the topic of exact match domains (EMDs) needs to be addressed.
Since Penguin I've taken a slightly new approach to how I build links for EMDs. It mainly focuses around anchor text.
There's a certain percentage of your links that you want to be branded and exact. For EMD owners the anchors would be the same, so one would think the real amount of anchor text you can get away with is branded + exact for normal websites. That's why EMDs can get away with having a lot of exact anchors.
But with Penguin that changed. You can no longer pass off exact as branded; you really have to start mixing it up. Sure, you can get away with more exact match anchors than non EMDs but the extent to which you can has decreased noticeably.
Here are some examples of the anchors that I've been using since Penguin that have shown results:
- Jon Cooper
- Jon Cooper's site
- This site
- This website
- My site
- My website
Obviously, substitute Jon Cooper for your name. I even suggest using multiple names.
Does Anchor Text Still Matter?
I think it's complete
BS nonsense to say stop going for anchor text. At the same time, continuing to actively go for exact match is playing with fire. Go for exact match anchors in moderation.
Just as you try and get links from as many Linking Root Domains as possible, try and get as many links with different anchors as possible. If you analyze a post that got a ton of natural links, you'll see that just like the long tail, there are a ton of anchors that are used only once or twice.
So don't try & mix it up with 6 or 7 different anchors. Mix it up with as many as possible. I don't have hard evidence that this is a true factor but have been putting this into practice in the last month and seeing great results.
Black hat tip: When buying links, don't go for anchor text at all. I've found that a couple of my sites have gotten away with super obvious sidebar links for the sole reason the anchors were natural, such as "Jon Cooper's site" (I don't actually use my real name for these though). I know you buy links & do automation for anchor text, but meet me half way and you'll see a lot more sustainability from these links than you normally would.
Luckily, I had the chance to hear Greg Boser from BlueGlass speak at a meetup in Tampa. He said something that can be applied to all websites but because of EMDs and the habit to use anchor text when internally linking, this a perfect place to talk about it.
Greg said that you're going to see more & more sites getting hit that use exact match anchors in their website's navigation. His evidence is that Google has been testing this out in the Travel niche.
So don't be the one who found out the hard way when this becomes the next Penguin update. Use the most user-friendly anchors as possible.
If you're ranking 1st with your EMD, your job is far from done because at any time you might see Google start devaluing the strength of EMDs. I say this because the amount of a boost an EMD gives is insane and I think it's only a matter of time until this changes.
It's based off only theory, but I honestly think we might see the power of EMDs fluctuate based on the query. If it's branded, then the boost will be the same. If it's generic, then it will be devalued to some extent, because from what I have seen, the ratio of black hat sites is much higher for EMDs than non-keyword domains.
Again, I have no evidence that this will happen, but seeing that this probably would yield better search results, it remains a possibility.
Now it's time to hear from you. What do you think? Is my analysis of exact match anchors spot on or way off the mark? Do you see EMDs continuing to yield the kind of power they currently do?
(If you liked this post, you might also enjoy Go For Perfect Anchor Text Distribution By Baking A Chocolate Cake )