Of the many variables that Google, et al., uses to determine search ranking, your link profile is probably one of the most important. The search engines have no way to determine if your site is trustworthy except by looking to sites that it already trusts. Backlinks are the connection that Google looks to for this, and anchor text is a major factor in your backlink profile.
Enter Anchor Text
Anchor text is what connects your backlinks to relevant keywords. Together, anchor text and links create a metric for search engine optimization (SEO) that Google, Yahoo and Bing can depend on.
Why are links so important, and why do those links have to be connected to a certain text in order to matter?
First of all, links have proven themselves to be a worthwhile metric over time. Links are one of the online tools that hackers have always tried to manipulate. People naturally want more information if they look through an article and enjoy the content. The links that are embedded in the content should serve as an addendum to the subject matter that has already been addressed.
The text that anchors the link tells the reader exactly what is being addressed in the content. If a link was allowed to be embedded with any anchor, then the relevance of the material on the secondary page might fall into question. This also does not allow the major search engines to connect the subject matter of the two pages together with any sort of regularity.
The Long Term Outlook on Links and Anchor Text
Links will only become more important, as will the anchors those links are connected to, as more businesses find their way onto the Internet. Literally thousands of businesses create new webpages every day, and the major search engines are tasked with the organization of all of this material. There must be a system in place to ensure that people who go to the major search engines continue to get the best content.
On the other side of this equation is the responsibility of the webmaster. The way that webmasters can serve the larger online community is to ensure the validity of the links on the page and the anchors that bring people to those links. With this system in place, people are sure to find relevant content that is up-to-date no matter how much noise there is on the Internet. If you are a webmaster, it behooves you to consider this system and play into it as best you can.