Links network the internet. They are how we get around online. Links can be very simple to implement into a website. They are also hugely important for SEO. In the past search engines have used the number and quality of links pointing at a website to gauge the quality of the site. They now seem to be trying to move away from this method. Correct use of links and their attributes still has a positive effect on your SEO.
If you own a website it should link to off-page content. But should you let Google’s spiders follow these links? What about anchor text? How much is best to use? When you are working on your SEO simple things like where, when and how you should link become important.
Correct Anchor Text Use
If you are reading this you should know the basic code for linking:
<a href=”[your destination]”>[your anchor text]</a>
Anchor text has become more important since Google’s penguin update. Recently Google has been trying to prevent unnatural link building. One of the first signs of this was in Google’s Penguin update. Penguin penalised websites for having anchor text which exactly matches the search terms they are aiming to rank with. For example if I ranked highly for the term “SEO consulting” before the penguin update, but had built a lot of links to my website with “SEO consulting” as my anchor text chances are post penguin my rankings would be severely damaged.
This is important because one or two links with exact match anchor text won’t damage your rankings. It is inadvisable to build links all over the internet with the same anchor text which is focused on one keyword or phrase. Go for something slightly longer as anchor text which fits naturally in the sentence you are writing, as I did with the link at the start of the last paragraph. The article’s title is “SEO history and future predictions”, if I was trying to rank for the term “SEO history” by building links all over the internet with this as my anchor text my SEO would be damaged.#
Gotchseo has an exhaustive guide on different techniques of what to put in your anchor text to avoid penguin penalties. Give it a read for more examples. Exhaustive really is the only word for it.
Using an Image as a Link
A nice visual tool which doesn’t particularly impact your SEO can be using images as links. All you need to do is combine how you would create a hyperlink with how you would insert an image:
<a href=”[your destination]”>
<img src=[image location]
To Follow or Nofollow
When you are linking to a site you need to ask yourself a few questions:
- Does the site I am linking to have good SEO.
- Is the site I am linking to focused on the keywords I am targeting.
- Does the site I am linking to allow for comments which could have damage their SEO in the future.
If the answer to either of the first two questions is no you want to include a nofollow attribute to your link. If your answer to the third question is yes it may also be worth adding a nofollow attribute. Unless you are confident that the site you are linking to will not allow people to spam them or otherwise let their SEO standards slip it is usually best to no follow. Adding a no follow attribute is VERY simple. All you have to do is add:
<a href=”[your destination]” rel=”nofollow”>[your anchor text]</a>
Nofollowing links is often overlooked by less experienced webmasters. It is a very simple but very important practice. You can also tell Google not to follow any links on your page. Under the <head> tag add:
<META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOFOLLOW">
There are two different forms of internal linking. Links within a page like this page’s contents. Also off page internal links which take you to other pages on the same website.
Off page internal links
Off page internal links are a vital navigation tool. They also increase engageability and are important for SEO. If you are linking people to information they may find interesting in the body of the page text you should make the link open in a new window. Doing so will keep people on your page longer which is good for your SEO. This is also very easy to do:
<a href=”[your destination]” target=”blank”>[your anchor text]</a>
Remember that just because you are linking to your own content doesn’t mean that you should let Google follow the link. If the content of the page you are linking to is only loosely related to the content of the page you are linking from then use the nofollow attribute.
Links within your page
Links within your page are great for engageability and SEO. If somebody is looking for a specific piece of information on your page they will easily find the heading that it is under. Like the rest of this guide links within your page are very easy to set up. They are similar to a regular hyperlink. The difference being you define the name of the section you want to jump to with the tag:
In this case I have given this subheading the name “links”. To create an internal link all you have to do is create a normal hyperlink. Instead of putting a web address you use a #hashtag before the section name. In this case it is “#links” as below
<a href=“#links”>jump to links within your page</a>
Hopefully this will make you think a bit harder about how you use a simple link. If you have any other techniques related to links and their attributes please leave me a comment and I will include them in the guide.
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