Anchor text links used to be the Holy Grail of SEO. This is to say that anchor text links used to be everything and that a website that did not get these links would not do well on the search engines. In most cases, this is still true. However, some of the groundwork underneath those particular links and their effect on SEO have changed, especially as it relates to external anchor text linking back to a website. So what happened with anchor text links? The truth is that Brand Anchor Google Penguin destroyed most of the backlinks that people had built up through Gray Hat or Black Hat techniques (at least the value those links had on the search engines). This means that only White Hat techniques survived the day, therefore most people should use White Hat anchor text links in their businesses.
The other thing that Google Penguin did was that it started to look for over-optimization in the texts used for backlinks. This is to say that a person or a website may have built too many keywords into their links, and therefore they look unnatural to the search engines when searches happen on the site. This is a massive problem because the old way of optimizing a website was to go for several keywords and not go for branding, which would not necessarily help a website rank on the first page of a key word. Therefore, anchor text links are still important, but they can be a major problem and can incur a penalty that will destroy the ranking of a website.
In the end, the White Hat linkers followers were right. Natural linking was the best way to go about SEOing a website. However, it is not always easy and is usually a long process that is no fun for the SEO person. This is especially true if they are supposed to develop content to get links in a vertical that is “boring.” This means that it may take a lot of time and effort to build links to a website that most people do not talk about a lot. Therefore, there are many sections of business that will have a harder time doing the SEO that they need to generate the clients that they want in the future.
Lastly, to deal with anchor text properly, one has to deal with a proper ratio and make sure that they do not use an exact match anchor text link back to the website all the time, even though this is still important, this should not be the main anchor text link back to the website. Branding is a very important part of a website, and most of the websites that have natural linking done to them use backlinks that are heavily branded for that website. Therefore, in the future, if someone wants to do better on the search engines, what they need to do is develop a good ratio where they manage their backlinks. This means that exact match anchor text links should not be used as the main primary anchor text link back to their website.