The importance of anchor text to search engine rankings took its first major hit when Google decided to penalise websites for over-optimisation of anchor text. As a result, instead of every link to a specific page on your website using the terms for which it was optimised, only about a third of the links could be the specific keyword text. Still, Internet marketing companies adjusted and adapted.
Now, it appears that both Google and Bing are downplaying the importance of any anchor text at all, in favour of meaningful keyword relationship metrics such as co-occurrence. In other words, it doesn’t matter as much what you say about your website (in the anchor text you provide in your blog posts, press releases, and other Internet marketing efforts), as it matters what else you say, and what other people say about your website. They don’t even have to be linking to your website, just talking about your product or company.
Shout outs or streams
One of the ways that the weight given to anchor text is (or may be) being modified is to compare the anchor text with the rest of the text in the article, blog post, or website. If your anchor text is a shout out – a single reference to a keyword that otherwise has nothing to do with the main topic of your article, blog post, or website – it is given less weight than if the anchor text is part of the same thematic stream as the rest of the text. So, for example, if your anchor text was for a specific model of camera, and the rest of your text talked about a family vacation in which you used that camera, it would be given less weight than if the same anchor text was included in an article that talked about how beginning photographers could take the best photographs.
Previously, Internet marketing required manually optimising your websites for every possible misspelling and synonym for your chosen keywords. Nowadays, the search engines have their own lists of synonyms and meaning clusters, developed by analysing which words are found most often together in text samples. So, for example, if the search engines see that the phrases “cell phone” and “mobile phone” are frequently found together, they may decide that “cell”, “mobile”, and “phone” are synonyms of each other. They will also determine that “phone”, “phones”, “telephone”, and “telephones” belong in the same cluster.
It is obvious from looking at results such as the Google Adwords insights that explain where the search volume assigned to a specific broad keyword is coming from, that these assignments are machine generated. As a result, when your brand is mentioned in conjunction with a particular phrase, especially if the phrase is fairly unique, your brand will be considered synonymous with that phrase. Similarly, you can be penalized for using too many variations on the same keyword within your text because the search engines consider the phrases to be synonyms.
The Internet Marketing Academy