There’s an interesting article over at the onreact blog discussing potential Google algorithm changes which not only de-value exact matches in anchor links, but actually hurt your position in the SERPS.

The article describes how some blog posts which were initially ranking well, completely disappeared from the SERPS when exact match anchor links were pointed at them.

To add to the evidence, apparently the posts re-appeared in the SERPS after the links were removed.


Exact Match?

But what is classed as an “exact match anchor link” – and why may Google be using them to filter the SERPS.

The article describes exact matches as fairly generic – high value phrases, an example of which is "SEO Company UK”.   

Anchor text has been becoming increasingly popular over the last couple of years as a way of improving SERP positioning.   More and more spammy backlinks are implementing exact key phrase patterns for anchor text, so this may be why Google are taking notice.



This leaves a worrying question though : can your competitors damage your position in the SERPS by “exact matching” links to your site?

Google have always been aware of the potential for Blackhat SEO’s to use the ranking algorithms against competitors, so I don’t believe it’s that straightforward.   

I expect Google must be using other factors such as link patterns, source addresses, anchor text distribution, page content etc before taking the step of removing a page from the SERPS.


Stop Using Exact Matches?

I don’t think this is evidence enough that we should stop using exact match anchor links, however the links should continue to be natural in both growth and context.    For example, exact matches can be used when the content pointed to – is indeed a match of the anchor text context.   And if the link comes from a page with related content – this will also be proof to Google that the link should be counted as good.


I’m sure additional research will be done on this and there will be other blog posts discussing the findings.   It’ll be interesting to see what correlations are found when more people start looking into these findings.

For now I’ll keep linking where linking makes sense to the user and the content..