Link Like a Pro: 3 Steps to Linking the Right Way
Website owners use a range of tactics to get their sites to show up in Google and other search engines. This is called search engine optimization, or SEO. For any business with a website, SEO is a crucial part of being visible and, from there, generating new clients and customers.
One important aspect of SEO is how and what you link to within your site. Done right, links ensure that both search engines and readers can find all the great content you've already created. For example, the link in the first sentence of this article leads to another internal post about SEO.
Making your content discoverable is important for two reasons:
- Your potential customers want to discover you as a trusted source of information.
- If search engines can easily find what's on your site, you're more likely to show up in the search results.
But there are some do's and don'ts to linking. Here's how to link safely.
1. Think before you link
Internal links are links that lead to other pages on your own site. The name of the game with internal links is to focus on relevance and user intent. Don't just link because you can; link only to pages that are directly related to the page topic.
“Theoretically, you can work any text into a page, and link it to any other page," says Michelle Lowery, independent digital content editor and SEO expert. “But it's better to have three highly relevant internal links on a page than ten indiscriminately built links. Those random links won't help your readers, or your rankings."
For example, let's say you own a small accounting firm, and you write a blog post about cash versus accrual accounting. In that post, it would be better to link to a page on your site about accounting for small businesses than one about investment strategy.
2. Pay attention to anchor text
Anchor text is the text that's hyperlinked to the destination page. The words “show up in Google" in the first sentence of this article are the anchor text. The words you choose as anchor text can affect your SEO.
“Just linking to a relevant page isn't enough," says Lowery. “Using anchor text that provides context for the page you're linking to tells both the reader and Google what that page is about before they even get there."
For example, using “website owners" instead of “show up in Google" as the anchor text linking to the article about SEO would have been a poor choice, because the destination page is not strictly about owning a website.
3. Be careful who you link to
Outbound links are links from your site to other sites. They're good for your SEO, but only if you're selective about which sites you link to. Good candidates are high-profile sites with reputable content, such as news outlets, respected organizations or experts. Poor choices are websites with lots of spammy comments, keyword-stuffed articles or flashy ads. If you're not sure about a site's reputation, don't link to it.
Also consider the topic of the site you're linking to. In an article about tax strategy, for example, it doesn't make sense to link to a website about high-fashion trends, even if they're running a great article about taxes.
The importance of linking the right way
If you take the time to consider what you're linking to, why you're linking to it, and what words you're including in that link, your SEO will improve. And strong SEO means a better chance that potential customers and clients can find you online.