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Advice About Links

How to write links for Google and people

Links are the glue that hold your web pages together and connect your site to the wider internet. Like every other element of your pages and blogs, they need to be written with the needs of users and search engines in mind, or you aren’t going to rank as well as you could.

 

Google helps its users to find what they’re looking for by delivering relevant and targeted results, so writing for humans and writing for Google should be one and the same. Trying to score SEO points by writing for the robots doesn’t fly any more, and is more likely to get you penalised than rewarded.

 

So how can you write quality links that help your site visitors, the search engines and yourself?

 

Links should be relevant and descriptive

 

Every link on your website and blog needs to be relevant to the page it directs users to. The anchor text doesn’t have to contain the exact heading of the linked content, but it should give users (and Google) a clear idea of what that page contains. If it includes your targeted keywords, all the better.

 

Avoid generic anchor text like “click here” or “read more.” This is missing out on an easy opportunity for SEO.

 

Links should feature keywords

 

Include the destination page’s targeted keywords in the link’s anchor text. This helps Google to associate those keywords with the link and can improve the page’s SEO.

 

But you shouldn’t do this excessively. Keyword stuffing applies just as much to anchor text as it does to plain text, so avoid including extraneous keywords in a way that feels unnatural to the reader.

 

Links should be concise

 

There’s no limit to how long or short links can be, but the length of anchor text affects the user experience and also affects SEO.

 

Long, ungainly links can be unsightly or annoying for people using screen readers, while links that are too short (such as single-word links) are easy to miss entirely. Google may ignore anchor text over eight words in search results, so try to keep your links to that length or at least make sure the important keywords are included in the first eight words.

 

Links should be useful

 

Google can spot links that don’t serve a function beyond link building. If your pages or blogs include unnecessary links or hidden links (such as linking a hyphen or other small character, or changing a link’s colour to match plain text), this could be seen as deceptive and breaching Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

 

Don’t forget your URLs

 

It’s not just anchor text that needs to be well sculpted for your users, but also the link addresses themselves.

 

These should also be keyword-rich and relevant to the page’s content. Keywords are especially useful if the URL gets shared on social media without anchor text.

 

If you’re publishing a blog post or other content through WordPress or a similar CMS, the URL will contain the post’s title by default. If you would prefer something different, you can adjust the URL by editing the permalink. This is especially useful for replacing parameters (e.g. ?id=44) with something more substantial, like keywords or a description.

 

For example, if your website has a product page about capes for cats, a good URL looks like:

www.petdandy.com/cats/cat-accessories/cat-capes

 

A bad URL looks like:

www.petdandy.com/index.php?option=com_product&task=product&businessLine=1&id=77&parent_id=77&Itemid=57#loaddelay

 

It helps if your website has a relevant, keyword-rich domain name too.

 

What about off-page links?

 

When you’ve mastered the art of writing links on your own pages, writing off-page links that link back to your site is a different discipline entirely.

 

Find out how to build links ethically to improve SEO and help more people discover your site.

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