Second in a series on becoming a more prosperous (or at least more widely read) blogger.
Links are even more important to you than the last BLAP topic stressing the importance of headlines. Â Headlines (which are often also links) can encourage a reader to read your story. Â A properly crafted link can fetch a reader from far, far away on the internet to come read your story.
Alas, we don’t always get to craft the links that bring readers to our stories (or cause them toÂ consciouslyÂ avoid our missives), so where are actually are in control of our links, we should give them the same careful thought and scrutiny that we would devote to a headline.
What is a link?
A link is the magic part of ‘the internet’ (actually ‘the web’ part of the internet) that makes it easy to navigate from document to document and gather relevant information quickly. Â You click, you go there. Â It was that poweful clickie thing that allowed many early adopters back in the day to fear that they would get ‘lost’ on the internet. Â Simple in concept, the internet would never have taken off as it did without the lowly (yet highly sought after) link. Â Links both specify the target (the ‘where you will go’) if you click on them, and are intended to give you a teeny preview of what you might see when you get there. Â Further, links and link text are also used in search engines to catalog and index links and web pages. Â That will be the important, weighty part of this article.
Before proceeding on how to help yourself best with properly crafted links, let’s review link practices that we want to avoid, both because they harm our rankings in search engines, and they may just be bad editorial practice. Â Click Here. Â Check this out… Â X-posted. Â Crossposted. Â Hot Viagra Chicks. Â Win A Million Dollar$. Â Technically, this is not a Rick Roll (because I told you what it was before you clicked). Â Avoiding thatÂ with Wiki-leaked documents.Â (H/T: Moe Lane [good practice])
Other than revisiting the famous Rick Roll, we won’t go into deceptive links here except to say they will hurt your rankings with the search engines. Â Google sez don’t be evil, so don’t be. Â Why? Â Because ‘Click here’ and ‘x-posted’ don’t tell you anything about what you will see when you click. Perhaps you informed the reader of what they would get if they ‘click here’ just before or just after the link? Â Then make that text the link. Â Tell us why we should click, what we will discover, and make that information your link. Â If you try to induce more clicks to your story by mentioning naked pictures of Paris Hilton and your story turns out to be about kinetic operations in Libya, the search engines will discover and penalize you (and so will your readers, by the way, which is why the search engines do it).
So beyond avoiding the most obvious hazards in crafting good links, what can you do to ensure that your links are actually helpful and informative (which will raise your story’s or your site’s search engine rankings)?
Link text is what matters
When Google first notices a link you crafted, or notices a link someone else crafted linking to your story or site, the first thing Google (and the other search engines) record besides the link destination itself is the hot-linked text. Â Yeah, that’s this clickable part that’s in a different color. Â The search engines use that link text as the initial clue Â to categorize and index the link to your story!
Even after the search engines have spidered your story and know (sorta) what it actually says, the links others eventually furnish to your story can often tell the search engine more about how to index the story than any other meta-information available. Â Yes, the search engines do notice the difference between links calling your story a source of witty, trenchant wisdom and links disdaining your shoddy copy as the ravings of a craven lunatic.
As you see above, your choice of link text can place the information that you link to in context for your reader, so good link text can be highly useful in an editorial sense.
So indeed, with something as simple as a link, you have the power to gift, to re-gift, or even the Kraken-like power to destroy!
Use it wisely.