I link, you link, we all link. So why not do it the right way? Following a few simple rules when you create links helps search engines, helps your site rank, and boosts your credibility as a blogger. If you’re still creating links that look like this – “You can read more about linking by clicking HERE“ – you’re going to look like a noob, insult the intelligence of your readers, confuse search engines and lose any SEO benefit you might have gotten from creating a quality link. Bottom line, how you link is just as important as what you link to. Here’s a few quick tips for good linking etiquette:
Search Engines Are Dumb. Help Them Out.
Fortunately, Google’s systems haven’t become self-aware yet, and while spiders can recognize and assign relevance scores to your links based on the words you use, they aren’t smart enough to derive meaning from language the way a reader can.
Let’s say you’ve just written a life-changing post about how hot Margaret Thatcher is. To add value for your readers, you decide to link out to Margaret Thatcher’s Wikipedia page (so that people can see her photo and instantly agree with you). If you link like this…”Check out Margaret Thatcher’s smoldering pic here“, web crawlers see this -
<a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_thatcher“> here</a>
Any human can tell you that the relevance of the keyword “here” is ZIP, but the search engine’s can’t. So instead, you want the robot crawling your site to gobble up a nice keyword-rich link by using the most relevant keyword for what you’re pointing to like this -
“Check out this super-hot photo of Margaret Thatcher!”
Now the crawler sees this…
<a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_thatcher“> Margaret Thatcher</a>
Kudos to you. You just made the search engines a bit brighter by pointing them in the right direction. Same work, relevance = 100%.
Boost Your Rankings
If you link correctly, the quality and relevance of the links in your site can have a positive effect on SEO rankings. Search engines use algorithms to determine a site’s relevance and popularity in relation to what people are searching for. One of the factors affecting the site’s ranking for any given search term is how many relevant links are contained within the site.
There are two types of links – internal and external. Internal links are those which link one page of your site to another. Internal links show search engines the breadth and density of your site and highlight important sections for search terms people use. External links, by contrast, are those where your site links to another site, or when another site links to yours. Both types of links are important to search engines, but with rankings, relevant external links (both in-coming and out-going) matter more. In-coming links, of course, matter most, but relevant keyword-rich linking out definitely helps.
Readers Appreciate Good Linking Habits
Whenever I find a person using the phrase “click here” for a link, I cringe a little. Not only is it just a little too early 90′s, it insults my intelligence as a reader. Everyone gets how linking works. There’s no need to explicitly point a person to the link with your words. We all know what links look like. We all use them. Besides, when you change the flow of your sentences to include calls to action like “click here”, the whole thing just doesn’t flow as well.
Aside from not having their intelligence challenged, readers also appreciate being able to scan your posts for keywords. While it might be shocking to bloggers who are a liiiiittle bit too enamored with their own writing skills, not everyone reads every word. In fact, studies have shown that most people don’t read at all – they scan (I know, right? How dare they! pfff) – so making relevant keywords pop out of the text is a good thing because it allows visitors on your site to skip reading every word and find what they’re looking for fast.
Ok, netizens…go forth and link with style and purpose!