It is usually not enough for a website just to have inbound links in order to achieve a high position in the SERPs. There is an element that can make a world of difference in the search ranking of a site: the link text. One of most crucial aspects of off-site optimization, link text is the text that appears on the inbound link. Usually referred to as anchor text, the link text has a huge influence on search engine rankings at the time of writing.
An illustration of the weight of anchor text in the Google algorithm can be seen in the numerous pranks that have been played on Google. These pranks, called “Google bombs”, refer to building inbound links to a web page with a particular anchor text, while that page itself has nothing to do with the link text. The first Google bomb was created by Adam Mathes in April 2001 (Mathes 2001). Mathes linked from several websites to his fellow editor’s website with the anchor text “talentless hack”. Even though the fellow editor had neither of these words placed anywhere on his website, his site turned up number one in the Google search results for the term “talentless hack”. After this, there have been several occasions where such bombs have been created. One of the most famous Google bomb was created with the term “miserable failure”, which shows the biography of the President of the United States, George W. Bush, at the top of the Google result for the search query “miserable failure”.
In addition to being used for “bombing”, anchor text can also be used to improve search positioning of a company website. Search engine optimizers are always trying to obtain inbound links that have a descriptive anchor text. This is not an easy task, as most directories and sites prefer to display the company name or website address such as www.example.com as the link text. If the name of the company happens to include targeted keywords, the task becomes easier.
It should be noted that optimizers should vary the anchor text that they use. In February 2005, there was a Google update, called Allegra. Update Allegra appears to have devalued the inbound links of websites that have plenty of other inbound links with the same anchor text. Sites with a lot of anchor text repetition in their inbound links seem to have suffered the most in terms of Google rankings. (Gupta 2005.)