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    Anchor text and Penguin


    I have a question about if changing your anchor will hurt you. I had hired an seo company for an audit about 1 month ago on my site. Just to get a feel for where I can improve. Overall summary was very good for my niche.
    One thing they mentioned was this.

    Suggestion: I would review my backlink profile and see where the highest quality links are coming from and kindly ask the webmaster if they could possible adjust your link text to be something a bit more SEO friendly. Below, you will find a summary of your overall link profile.
    This sounded like sound advice and made sense. So I have done that I have went through my link profile best I could. For last 3 weeks I have emailed webmasters and changed anchor text on some links myself. I had spoken with several webmasters I am linked to change my anchor to something seo friendly. Several did with no mention this could be bad. Then last night I got this email from one webmaster


    You asked whether there's any way to get your link text changed on XXXX. There is, but changing your anchor text to a keyphrase is the best way to invite a Penguin smackdown, and I wouldn't do that to you.
    Who is right and have I done something that is going to hurt me and if so is it too late to back track and fix what I can ? Please advise.
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    If you already have some good links, you shouldn't change the anchor text of them. The last webmaster is right.

    However, Penguin is not only about anchor text, but also about ratios and proportions. It supposed to have some "nofollow" links, probably about 10% from total number of links. Some of them should have only your url as anchor text, some of them something like "click here", some of them, maximum 30% should have few keywords, precious to you. Google expect to see "natural links" and natural links have some statistical distribution.

    Nobody will know if is too late to back track and fix what you can. I would change them back, all old anchor text, as soon as possible.
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    Look, this kind of approach will drive you bonkers. We have some statistical analysis regarding Penguin and anchor text ratios but ultimately, it would seem to be different in every niche and the good signals in one sector are seemingly different in another.

    A lot of this depends on how these links were placed to begin with and the kind of page they are linking to - if you look at a typical homepage then there will be a lot of branded links, url variations and the like on naturally linked sites.

    In essence, there is some sound advice in wanting to tweak the anchors on some of the best links - that is, if all the other links are natural and normal and you don't have existing anchor text penalties muddying the water. If you can optimise the anchors on several of your top tier links then go for it but

    If you look at a specific page then we will see a lot more keyword kind of links but the variety will usually be staggering with some wild variation.

    Consider how you link to something in a blog post - If I was writing about the sport and wanted to provide a history of the olympics I could do a lot worse than linking to the olympics page on wikipedia as I have in this sentence. But, I used the anchor text that best fitted my purpose in the context of my sentence and most natural linking (or the kind that matters) will work like this.

    If you look at a well linked page you will see all sorts of anchors and if you look at the olympics page on wikipedia you see such weird misspellings as olympigs so the real guiding rule here should be variety (ideally natural variety).

    As a general rule, if you can work the anchors in your favour on some of your highest quality links without comprising the ebb or flow of the linking document then it is not going to hurt. If you try to marry that to a further 1000 exact match anchors from some spun articles then that is not going to work out.

    Try and keep it varied and natural if possible and remember that anchors are not the force they once were and exposure from high quality linking sites is often more important than given link for pure SEO purposes.

    Hope that helps

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