Debunked: Only The 1st Anchor Text Counts With Google

A little while ago I read the following thread over at SEOmoz:

Results of Google Experimentation – Only the First Anchor Text Counts

This made me panic a bit, because it would have meant that the footer link I had on this blog was not helping my homepage rank. I think someone mentioned in the discussion that even if the 1st link was nofollowed, it would still be the only one that counted. This would have meant that I was supposed to be completely shafting myself.

I got rid of the 1st links to the homepage altogether hoping to see a rise in Google for my main phrase, but I did not. I did however rise over 60 places, within less then a week or so on MSN/Live search.

I wanted to know for sure with Google, so when I 1st changed over my design less then a week ago, I made it so that every post in this blog linked to the about us page, with my name as the anchor text. I have just checked today and it is ranking 4th on Google UK, just behind my Yahoo! post.

  • The 1st anchor text always says about
  • There is very little on-page for it, other then the links in these posts
  • There are other pages with far more David Eaves links (external ones)
  • There are no external links to that page using that anchor text

My conclusion: Google does not only look at the 1st link to a page for anchor text, MSN/Live search does and I am not too sure about Yahoo!

Good advice and practice from SEOmoz anyway though, if only for MSN. Why take a chance on it? Make sure that you have your good anchor text in the 1st links to your pages.

Update: Seeing how VanDeMar seems to be the one who started this whole thing off, here is a link to his original post:

You May Be Screwing Yourself With Hyperlinked Headers

Posted in SEO News By David Eaves, a UK search engine optimisation specialist.

34 thoughts on “Debunked: Only The 1st Anchor Text Counts With Google

  1. Hello. :)

    While the test I ran was not exhaustive, I really don’t think I would label yours as a “debunking” of the phenomena… I mean, for starters, where was it ranking before you started?

    PPCblogger is right, you really would need to run a more controlled test.

  2. The page never ranked anywhere at all for it before the re-design, I re-wrote it, mentioned my name on the page (like I do with every blog post) and then linked to it from every post on this blog. The homepage of this site, the blog homepage and many of the blog posts have lots of external links using that anchor text and the about us page outranks them.

    The links at the bottom of these posts are definitely counting, what else could be causing the page to outrank most of the others for David Eaves?

  3. Any number of things, actually. You currently only have 56 of the 115 indexed page for this site in Google’s main index, the rest are in supplemental. It could be something as simple as the page that used to rank in it’s place went supplemental. Did you have an indented listing before? Do you know what page that was?

    The main issue is that you are testing with a phrase that currently has too much noise. You would have to dissect all of the possible pages that could be ranking for your name on this site, and compare all of the of the factors that go into it, in order to determine what was actually going on. In a real world environment, using non-unique phrases like this on a live site where rankings can fluctuate with no changes whatsoever, it’s next to impossible to conclusively say, “I did A, and B happened, therefore A caused B”.

    BTW – it doesn’t mean that you’re not right, or that things didn’t change, or that isn’t treated differently than You don’t have the same results there, and we do know that diff countries use variations of the algo (the /blog/ homepage is second after the Yahoo post on I’m just saying that this activity doesn’t actually prove or debunk the others posts.

  4. I’m going to have to agree with VanDeMar and PPCblogger.

    First off, it appears that several other variables could have caused the results. Secondly, this will have to be replicated several times in order to have any statistical significance.

    But I am glad that you’re looking into this topic. It’s a fairly important topic because it heavily influences interlinking strategy.

    P.S. Your “Leave a Reply” format seems to be screwed up.

  5. I have seen significant increases by adding keywords to home footer links that are not the first link back to the homepage in the source (that occurs in the top nav). Based on those observations, I find it difficult to believe that Google only looks at the first link.

  6. Of course a page doesn’t need anchor text in links to rank.

    Use a random word anchor link to the page from every page other than the about page, but after the link to the about using Dave Eaves. Don’t include it on the page itself.

    The problem is Google might not count a link because it is not on the page, or because it is irrelevant.
    It only becomes relevant if it is on the page with a made up word.

    Then you might have to take into account temporal factors – maybe the link only counts after a certain period of time, or if an external link also points to the page with the same anchor text.

    They could also factor in some kind of split testing of links, or have a “Bungle and Zippy” (from Rainbow) factor – choosing which window they are going to look through on any particular day.

    It is actually something quite hard to prove conclusively.

  7. I realized a while ago that this was not true. The only thing I have not been able to figure out is if the first link passes more ranking juice than a 2nd or 3rd link.


    If the first link read david eaves would you then start to rank #1?

  8. According to the study I have done so far; I am sure Google crawls the entire page and not just the first link. As a spider runs through every page Google comes across

  9. While I’m pretty sure that all of the links will count in the algorithm I’m also sure that the number of links counts for something. Having the header link back as well as several other links to the homepage will increase that pages link strength. But I do believe that you now have to divide the link strength and the strength of the text between that many links.

    basically I have 3 links going to my homepage, 2 text links and one image link. Now the text is only 2/3 strength. That could be a possible linking factor.

    While this hardly debunks the idea of “only 1st anchor text counts with Google” it also doesn’t prove it.

  10. All links count, but with more links added each new one counts less. I believe that links inside the first 250 words count more.

    Check this out, please…

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