I’m going to tell you a little story and then I’m going to give you a quiz.
A few days ago, I posted a guest article by Lior called Increase your SEO Knowledge in 2011: Must Read Blogs. Lior sent me the post pasted into an email. I use Microsoft Entourage (a Mac mail program that is part of Office) for my email. In Entourage, the links Lior sent all looked like this:
This was a guest post written by Lior who is a marketing advisor to iAdvize, a live chat support software <http://www.iadvize.com/> company.
I changed all the links when I was formatting the article for the blog post. I changed the links to the various blogs Lior recommended to h3 headings with links to the blogs. And I changed the last line of the article, with the guest author credit and link, to read:
This guest post was written by Lior who is a marketing advisor to iAdvize, a live chat support software company.
I didn’t give it much thought, I just made the site name the link as I had done with the blogs Lior recommended. Big oops.
Shortly after that, I heard from Lior, who didn’t like what I had done with the link in the author credit line. Then it got a little crazy, because every time Lior sent the “correction” to me, Entourage showed it exactly like the example above, with no clickable link text and a URL in brackets. Finally, Lior sent me a PNG, showing exactly how it should be.
How did Lior want it? Like this.
This was a guest post written by Lior who is a marketing advisor to iAdvize, a live chat support software company.
Okay, thanks to the PNG image, (with no help from Entourage) I finally got it.
Now the quiz. Why was it so important to Lior to have live chat support software be the link and not the name iAdvize or not a URL in brackets with no link text?
I’m going to suggest three answers, any of which you may have thought of, and which may have been the reasoning behind Lior’s patient attempts to get me to do it a certain way.
Being an accessibility person, my first suggested answer is about accessibility. The link text live chat support software is the most descriptive about what to expect when the link is clicked. AT devices can be set to skip from link to link, reading only the link text until the user finds the link to click. Think about how much more information Lior’s choice of link text gives a user than either iAdvize or a URL to iadvize.com. A link like iAdvize could be to all sorts of advice sites from financial advice to party planning. The words Lior chose tell the user exactly where a click will take them.
As an accessibility aside, it’s not helpful when every link says click here. Nothing descriptive at all about that link text. In some situations, it can be a compelling call to action, but it needs a title attribute (plus alt text if it’s an image) that provide more descriptive information about the link destination.
Back to the quiz. Another possible answer involves search engine optimization. Search engines take a close look at link text. Good link text adds to your search engine ranking. It provides indexable information about where a link is going. That’s important to you in terms of links to posts on your own site. Links to your own internal pages or articles help the search engines find what’s on your site, and the text used for internal links makes a difference in how the information is understood.
Guest posters want credit, because it helps bring traffic and quality links to their own sites. Lior took time and effort to write the guest post and wanted to make it count with incoming link text that would improve search engine rank. Anyone needing chat support software will search on chat support software, and not on a word like iadvize. It can’t hurt to have incoming links with the words chat support software floating around the web when someone asks a search engine where to find chat support software.
Finally, there’s the usability answer. Good link text also improves usability. Clarity in link text removes confusion or ambiguity and makes the site more useful.
Was your quiz answer the same as any of mine? Or did you think of something else? How else could you answer my question?
9 thoughts on “How good link text makes you a better blogger”
Writing referring text links during in articles enriches the article and the user experience.
I have seen just a few bloggers that don’t use this writing style.
However, very few bloggers really enrich their articles by linking to terms or definitions from wikipedia or any other informative sites. Many of them use this tactic for SEO benefits and many times they link the same article URL into the same page just to get the SEO benefit, but the user gets an awful experience.
Thanks for your comment.
I consider linking the same article URL into the same page multiple times for SEO benefits to be a black hat SEO practice. However, I don’t think the situation I described in the story is an example of that. I think the story is an example of a legitimate concern for the best possible clickable text in a link for the SEO benefits.
I am aware about your point there. You are clearly pointing for benefits for both the user and the webmaster. I just was saying a lot of bloggers practice that Black hat method.
Ah, thanks for the clarification, Daniel. Or perhaps I should say sorry that I misunderstood your point.
In the past, I’ve often seen sites that link to another site using exact links like “live chat support software” (not literally those keywords) get ranked higher in Google than the site who receives the anchor text like that. Over the past 9 years I’ve watched Google go in cycles and phases where they’d reward exact anchor text for awhile (maybe 3 months or so) and then once all of the Black Hat SEO’s got suckered in, they’d completely pull the rug out from under them where the pages that linked to them would only be seen in a best case scenario with white hat SEO or “natural” linked sites were at the top. Of course the black hat community would go insane…and I could sit there imagining the Google engineers high-fiving each other as they would watch all of the whiney e-mails flood into their inbox after the so-called “big dance”. This would usually wipe out all but the most aggressive or deep pocketed SEO’s who still took a big haircut in the process as they would persist at trying to figure out new tactics, buy new sites, etc, etc. Over a period of time Google would gradually loosen the anchor link penalty while increasing the penalty on sites that are not regularly updated. So while technically these black hat sites still have the underlying “mojo”, they long abandoned the sites or just kept them alive to collect a minimal trickle of traffic, all the while having no idea of the goldmine that they are sitting on but have let expire or have long forgotten. But then again, they are doing black hat tactics so converting it to a blog would probably be quite a stretch.
So being someone who has watched these trends, I think that we are due to see a massive “crash” in the black hat community very soon since I’ve seen nothing but affiliate sites at the top of most SERPs lately. I don’t know when it will happen but based on how they’ve done it in the past, it should come any time in the next 6 months. As usual, the slow and steady crowd will be fine and will probably even thrive.
Thank goodness Google cleanses itself of spammy affiliate sites regularly. Nothing is more annoying to click to in a list of search results.
I got nothing against affiliate sites as long they provide good info. Ultimately, that is what is all about. We give good info and we get rewarded if the visitor decides to buy something right?
Sorry for the email change, but apparently the super anti-spam plug in Akismet banned my email again!
It is frustrating because some bloggers do not approve my website because is somehow commercial related but with good info. And despite I give a good comment they mark it as spam instead of deleting the link thus sending a flag to akismet.
I have affiliate links on this site, so it isn’t affiliate links concern me. It’s the way affiliate links are implemented, and the clarity of intention of the site involved in using them. See this post Identifying affiliate links: Have I discovered a best practice? for my approach to affiliate links.
My experience is that sooner or later Google penalizes spammy SEO practitioners. I’ve seen some sites go way up and down…mostly those with questionable practices…while other sites never face serious search engine ranking losses.