It’s absolutely true that specific keywords are important to any SEO effort. However, it’s important to understand that SEO isn’t just about linking back to your site using valuable keywords as anchor text.
Links with targeted anchor text from trusted sites are great for ranking, but there’s a big shift toward using trust-worthiness and authority of websites in order to find SERP rankings.
Google and other search engines are implementing ways to measure the authority of a website, including social signals and user experience. Many SEOs believe anchor text will have less impact on search rankings in the future, so developing an SEO strategy that doesn’t rely too heavily on specific anchor text is a good idea.
Search Engines Pull Data from Multiple Avenues
Search engines don’t simply rely on search terms and click-throughs to determine your SERP placement. Modern search engines use a variety of metrics to find where you rank, including user experience, how visitors use your site, and social signals. Social sites such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter are increasingly important for SEO.
Search engines consider social presence as a signal of reputability, but this doesn’t mean just how many Facebook contests are being held by the site in question.
Modern search engines factor Google +1s, Tweets and Retweets and Facebook Likes in an effort to determine how much users value your site. All these social signals feed into how trustworthy your site is, which directly affects your ranking in SERPs.
Social signals have very little to do with keywords and much to do with increasing authority of your site.
Search Engines Are Sophisticated Enough to Detect Link-Spamming
While it’s a good idea to link back to your site with targeted keyword anchor text, it’s not a good idea to use the same exact terms every time you link to your site. This can seem automated or spam to a search engine, so varying the specific anchor text you use is a must.
Any followed link will pass on link juice to your website, thus increasing your website’s perceived trust and reliability, so to a certain degree anchor text isn’t that important.
However, anchor text is still used to find ranking for specific terms, so it’s best to take a balanced approach. Try using variants of your search terms, or work on different keywords you want to rank for.
User Experience is Increasingly Important
Modern search engines are putting more importance on how valuable users find your site. By making your site easier for users to use, you’ll be rewarded with more returning visitors, more natural links and better placement in SERPs.
Providing a better user experience isn’t just about having a great looking site. Ease of navigation, quality of content provided, frequency of updates, and the speed of your site all factor in to how users are going to enjoy spending time on your site.
Google’s recent freshness update takes user experience and interest in content into consideration for search results. By taking the time to optimize your site for your users, you’re also optimizing for search engines.