7 January 2011

This article explains the power and potential of text links. If you’re not using this SEO tip, you’re about to discover a strategy that can improve your rankings, engage visitors, and increase conversions.

What Are Text Links?

In Text Links Anchor Text © Copyright Alex Bellink and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License

Basically, text links are clickable words that point to another page or website. The anchor text is the string of words (or word) that you can click on. For example, this is a text link:  Seattle SEO Consultant. In this example, “Seattle SEO Consultant” is the anchor text. Clicking the link will take the user to another page. Both the link and anchor text are important factors in determining the SEO and ranking of your page.

Link texts differ from other types of links, such as buttons, graphics, or even navigation bars. Of all the varieties of a page’s outbound links, text links more directly impact search engine results.

The Benefits

  • Engagement. Links are a way of helping your visitors to stay engaged with your content through interaction and attentiveness. Link texts usually receive higher click through rates that navigation buttons.
  • Information. By providing links, you are providing a high-value informational experience for your readers. Links can corroborate your point or expose the reader to additional related content.
  • Visual breaks. People who only read headlines, bullets, numbered lists, or subheads also pause on text links. Most web developers make CSS adjustments so text links are underlined or a different color.
  • Linkbacks. When you link to another website, it has the potential to improve the SEO of the target site. This is more of an altruistic motivation, but it could get you some courtesy linkbacks. You’re probably not going to get a link back from Wikipedia anytime soon, but you may get a link from a business partner’s site.
  • Internal linkbacks. By linking to pages within your own website, you strengthen the SEO value of those target pages.
  • SEO. When a site is crawled, it indexes each link, improving your on-page SEO. This is the primary reason to include text links on your site.

How to Use Text Links

  1. Text links are good, but they must be used with care. There are four main methods of using them.
  2. Link with keyword match. If your keyword is Seattle SEO, and you want to link to a page called “Seattle SEO” it is best to use the exact keyword match. This will improve your page’s rankings for that keyword.
  3. Link with similarity match. An equally effective strategy is the similarity match. Instead of using the exact match like above, you may use “Seattle search engine strategy” instead. The SEO effect is pretty much the same. Google is just as much interested in similarities as they are in exact matches. Plus, you want the links to be natural for the human reader, not forced.
  4. Link with generic text. “Click here” is one of the most common anchor texts. It’s pretty lousy as far as SEO value goes. Avoid it.
  5. Link with URL. One method that provides very little value is listing the actual target URL as the anchor text. Besides making your page look cluttered, it doesn’t do much for the search engines. Few people are typing URLs into their search engines.

Six Commands for Text Links

Tip In Text Links © Copyright pratanti and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License

Keep the anchor text short. You should not hyperlink an entire sentence. The SEO value of such a technique is zero.

  1. Keep anchor text keyword directed. Try to use anchors that relate to the page keyword. For example, if you are writing an article for the keyword “ice cream shops in Seattle,” do not use “ferrets” as your anchor text.
  2. Vary your anchor text. Do not use the same phrase in your link several times in the page. Use synonyms instead.
  3. Vary your target page. Don’t link to the same page multiple times.
  4. Don’t use too many links. Google is suspicious of sites that are packed with tons of links. Sprinkle four or five in an average page, but please don’t overdo it.
  5. Use footer links cautiously. If your site has a footer, use only a minimal amount of links, and make sure that they are not stuffed with keywords. In most cases, footer links should use the same anchor text as the main navigation bar or header.

If you want help boosting your ranking and improving your website’s readability and usability with text links, contact Seattle SEO Consultant for a free, no-obligation consultation. Keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest SEO news and tips.

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