Google didn’t create back links, but Google was the first search engine that ranked web pages based on the number and type of back links it attracted. To this day, Google’s ranking algorithms are based, at least in part (and I’d like to add it’s a large part), on back links. Even other major search engines have followed suit and now include some analyzation of back links in their ranking algorithms.
Of course, over time, Google has refined its back link algorithm in particular and its search engine optimization ranking algorithm in general. Instead of just counting links as Yahoo! appears to do, Google actually looks at a number of factors related to links and judges those links based on an unknown scale of value (It’s unknown to the larger Web community, though I’m sure someone at Google knows how this value is calculated). One thing is for sure: If you want to rise in Google search engine and maintain a prominent position, you must build some links back into your website.
Anchor text is one of the ranking factors that Google looks at in judging link value. It’s just one factor. Other factors include number of links, number of different sources of links, authority of those sources, relevance of the sites that link to you, and a variety of other factors are considered as well. When it comes to anchor text, the variation of ranking factors is no less complicated.
Some of the factors related to anchor text that Google analyzes in your back links include:
- Specific keyword of each back link
- Relevance of anchor text
- Authority of linking page
- Relevance of linking page
- Variance in anchor text phrases used in overall back link portfolio
- Relation of anchor text phrase to outbound anchor text in links on page being linked to
- Optimization of on-page elements like photos, videos, and content
In short, Google favors a variety of anchor text to any page that is linked to. 100 links that vary 20 different relevant keyword phrases will gain more traction than 100 links that all use the same keyword phrase. If those 100 links are from a variety of different link sources with varying degrees of authority and relevance then that is even better. This tells Google that your back links are natural and not forced and that goes a long way to building your long-term reputation.