Adding links to your business blog enhances your readers’ experience and can have benefits for your business as well. While it does take extra time and thought, it is well worth the effort. This post will cover:
- Internal versus external links
- The three crucial elements of an effective link
- Five best practices for business blog links
There are two types of links you can add to a blog post:
- Internal links take the reader to another page on your site. This might be:
- Another blog post about a related topic
- A page about a product or service
- A contact page
- A landing page for a special event or launch
- External links take the reader to another site, such as:
- Someone else’s blog post about a related topic
- Related information you’ve posted on another blog or social media network
- A reference site that defines or explains a term or concept
- Another resource for tips, products or services related to the topic
3 Ways to Add More Effective Links to Your Business Blog
1. Choose meaningful anchor text
Anchor text is the word(s) people click on in order to visit your link. It is typically set apart from the rest of your text by being underlined and/or in a different color. Ideally, your set up your website so that once someone clicks on a link, it changes color so visitors can easily see which links they’ve already clicked.
It’s important to use meaningful anchor text, rather than non-descriptive terms like “Click here” or “Visit this link.” The words you choose for your anchor text can also have a big impact on your site’s ranking in search engine results.
Once you’ve done keyword research to define specific terms people are using to search for a business like yours, use these words as anchor text wherever possible, with two important caveats:
- They must be natural – Ultimately you are writing for readers, not for search engines. If the phrase can’t be worked into the sentence clearly using proper English, do not sacrifice readability or credibility. Here are two helpful suggestions from Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media.
- In a blog post about search engine optimization and internal links, he writes that if you can’t use your keyword phrase naturally, add the full title of the post you’re linking to, either in parentheses within the sentence (e.g., See Internal Linking: 9 Best Practices for SEO and Internal Links) or to a list of “Related Links,” “Additional Resources,” etc. at the bottom of your post.
- In his book Content Chemistry, he points out that since Google will most likely ignore the punctuation in your blog post, you can end one sentence with the beginning of your keyword phrase, and begin the next sentence with the remainder of the phrase.
- They must be varied – As explained in this Moz post about anchor tags, be cautious not to always use the same phrase when linking back to a particular blog post or other page of your website. Doing so can look spammy – both to readers and to search engines. Be mindful of how many times you use the same phrase as anchor text – both within a specific post, and throughout your blog and website.
To add anchor text in Microsoft Word, highlight the words you want to link from. Then use the shortcut Ctrl-K (Command-K on a Mac) to open the dialogue box to add a link, or use the top navigation menu and select Insert à Hyperlink.
In the “Link to” box, paste in the URL of the link. Tip: If this is a page you’ve linked to recently, click the arrow next to the “Link to” box and search for your link in the list that appears.
To add a link to your anchor text in WordPress, highlight the text and then click the link icon above the text window.
2. Provide descriptive title text
The title text is what readers see when they move their mouse over the underlined text in your blog post. A little box pops up with whatever text you’ve entered. If you don’t enter any text, they may see the URL of your link at the bottom of their screen, or depending on their browser they may see nothing.
Providing title text gives your reader additional information about the link, and you can also incorporate a call to action. This is particularly important if your typical readers are not very web-savvy. Ask yourself, will they instantly recognize underlined text as a link and know they can click to read more, or would it be helpful to see a message like, “Click here to read the related post, “Post title”?
To set your title text in Microsoft Word, see the images above to use Ctrl-K to open the dialog box to add a link, or use the top navigation menu Insert –> Hyperlink.
Click the “Screen tip” button to enter your text.
To set title text in WordPress, fill in the “Title” box underneath the URL.
Note: While WordPress 3.9 made it much easier to paste text from MS Word, your title text is not included. That means you will need to either compose your title text directly in WordPress, or copy your title text from Word manually for each link.
In Word, right-click on your anchor text, then click on “Edit Hyperlink.” Click on “Screen Tip,” highlight and copy your text, then paste into the WordPress “Title” box.
3. Set target options with care
The target of a link refers to what will happen when a reader clicks on the link. By default, the new page will open in the same window and the user can use the “Back” button to return to your blog post.
You can also set the target so that the link opens up in a new window, though some argue that there are very few good reasons to have a link open in a new window, and usability experts might call it one of the most cardinal sins of web design.
A common reason for setting links to open in a new window is to ensure the visitor can always find their way back to what they were reading in the first place. Another motivation is to keep the visitor from getting distracted on new sites and forgetting about you and your business.
For those reasons, some bloggers (myself included, at least at the time of this writing) choose to have external links open in a new window, while internal links open in the same window. I’m happy for visitors to get lost in my other blog posts or pages, because I know that wherever they are on my site, they are always one click away from more information about my topics or my business.
If you do choose to have links open a new window, web accessibility experts recommend including a note in your title text that notifies users what will happen, e.g., “link opens in a new window.”
To set your link target to open in a new window in WordPress, simply click the box that reads “Open link in a new window/tab,” or look for a similar option in other blogging platforms. You can easily do this while you’re pasting in your URL and/or adding your title text.
5 Best Practices For Business Blog Links
- Include both internal and external links. While internal links serve up more useful information that reinforces your expert status, increase the time visitors spend on your site, and improve your search engine ranking, external links help you make valuable connections with other experts and showcase your industry knowledge.
- Limit your links. In Crestodina’s article, he suggests including no more than six internal links in the main text of your blog post. You can have between 75-100 in total, he writes, but that includes links in your navigation menus, sidebars and footer. Too many links can make your post look suspicious to search engines and can also seem cluttered to readers. Be sure every single link provides value.
- Position your links. Links closer to the beginning of your post will get more attention from both search engines and readers alike. Moz points out that Google will flat out ignore links and anchor text if you’ve already linked to that page earlier in your post.
- Monitor your links. Broken links create frustration for your visitors and can diminish your credibility. There are several tools for checking broken links on your website. Periodically, review your older posts to see what new resources you can link to that you’ve created or discovered since writing the original post.
- Spotlight your links. Avoid using underlined text for emphasis on a blog or anywhere on a website. People have come to associate underlined text with hyperlinks and will assume you forgot to add the link or it is not working. This can then create additional confusion when visitors come across one of your actual links.
Links from your own site and across the web can enrich your blog posts immeasurably with valuable information for your readers. Using the above three techniques for adding links can grow your business by helping new people find your blog, and giving them a better experience once they arrive.
How do you use links in your blog posts? Do you lean more towards internal links or external links? What makes you appreciate links in other business blogs?