This is one for the SEO techies and link builders. Short of time? The Google Verbatim option appears to strip the relevance usually provided by (some?) link anchor text. You may find this useful in analysing rankings.
I came across an interesting quirk of Google's new "verbatim" search option today. In addition to removing various query rewriting and personalisation options, it also appears to remove the relevance usually passed via link anchor text. This can give some insights into rankings which SEOs may be interested in.
I'll assume that you know about anchor text and its influence on relevance. The one line recap is that the text used in a link increases the rankings of the destination page for those words. It's why there's an entire link building industry :)
A search that highlights this factor is "click here" - since the sites that rank are not those that have lots of text related to “clicking there”, but because there are many links to them using those words. Here's the current top 5 in Google UK when searching for “click here”:
Adobe Acrobat is the first result – because of all the links prompting users to “click here” to install their PDF reader (aside: don’t use generic text in your own links!). The text on the page doesn’t reflect this.
If we search for “click here” with verbatim enabled, we get rather different results:
Now, the focus shifts to sites with greater textual relevance. The implication being that some of that anchor text relevance has been removed. We can use other specific examples to show that individual links are discounted with verbatim enabled, for example one of my old anchor text tests:
In the second example, the anchor text is no longer passed to the Receptional site. This suggests that certain links are being removed. Perhaps it’s the links where the anchor text is not present on the landing page, which would make sense. Partially matching anchors might still be passing value.
So, what use is this? Knowledge is power, of course, and this provides a way of assessing the impact of anchor text. Put another way, you can see if you’re being outranked by links, or whether it’s your links that are providing your rankings. Fill in the blanks for yourself! Comments or other insights are welcome, of course – so far my testing of this has been fairly limited.