It has been widely discussed in the search industry that having too many external links with the same anchor text / and or exact match of your primary keyword is probably going to cause more harm than good.
If you’re new to the scene: It’s essential to have a diverse link profile that summarises what your site is about with a mixture of links from different sources. An idea link profile will have a mixture of the following anchor text:
- Branded keywords / brand-keyword hybrid;
- Exact match of your primary keyword;
- Partial and broad match keywords;
- Non-descriptive (click here, more info here);
- Fully-qualified URL’s;
- Empty alt texts in linking images;
- Other (Completely different from all of the above, e.g foreign anchor text).
This is to ensure that your site doesn’t come across as ‘spammy’ to Google, otherwise, you’re probably going to get yourself a penalty and a manual review by a Google employee. Let’s not forget that this employee has a PHD, has worked for Google for years, and has probably read the same black-hat link building posts that you got your shady tactics from. Therefore, you’ll probably be saying hello to the sandbox.
Remember: A good SEO that has seen success from a change that they have made to their site won’t tell anyone, they’ll make as much money as they can from that one implementation before Google patches it. Once they then see that it isn’t as effective, they will openly talk about it on their blog. SEO is a game, everyone’s in it for one thing: rankings that result into cash, start replicating your own tests to see what works best for your site. In essence, stop copying others, yes it’s good to implement known best practice, but start experimenting, mix things up.
I’m going off topic, but the chances are if you have thought about all of the above, you’ll start to think if exact match anchor text, internally is bad for SEO. What will Google think if you add 100 contextual links to your web design services page from your blog using the anchor text ‘web design services’? Will Google consider this as manipulation, well, it really depends.
Below is a useful video from Matt Cutts on Internal Exact Match Anchor Text
Please be advised that this video is very old, but it’s still relevant and I don’t think his opinion has changed on the subject since.
Matt was asked:
Do internal website links with exact match keyword anchor text hurt a website? These links help our users navigate our website properly. Are too many internal links with the same anchor text likely to result in a ranking downgrade because of Penguin?
Matt responds with the following:
“My answer is, typically not. Typically, internal website links will not cause you any sort of trouble. Now, the reason why I say, typically not rather than a hard no is just because as soon as I say a hard no, there’ll be someone who has like 5,000 links all with the exact same anchor text on one page. But if you have a normal site– a catalog site, or whatever, you’ve got bread crumbs, you’ve got a normal template there. And that’s just the way people find their way around the site and navigate, you should be totally fine. That’s not the sort of thing that I would worry about.
You might end up, because of bread crumbs or the internal structure of the navigation, with a bunch of links that all say the same thing, that point one page. But as long as that’s all within the same domain, that’s just on site links. That’s the sort of thing where, because of the nature of you having a template, and you have many pages, it’s kind of expected they you’ll have a lot of links that all have that same anchor text that point to a given page. I wouldn’t worry about that.
It’s not the kind of thing where internal links within a domain would typically have any sort of issue unless– there’s always the one person who takes that way too far and has a gajillion links all on one. But if you were a regular website and you just have a normal template and you have plenty of pages, that’s not the sort of thing where you’d need to worry about it. Hope that helps.”
I miss Matt Cutts. It’s always nice to get some clarification from Google, especially Matt Cutts himself, so yes, internal website links will not cause you any sort of trouble, as long as you do it correctly. If you’re adding contextual links to your blog posts, when appropriate, linking to a specific page of yours with an exact match keyword, it should be fine.
Oh, if you’re still here, in order to maximise your internal linking efforts it may be worth checking out screaming frog to help with this.
Have a good day all.