Links are an important way to help visitors find the information they need on your website. They’re also an important way to optimize website content for SEO, which you’re learning about in this guide. This reading will help you become familiar with the best practices for internal and external links. You’ll also learn about promoting a website and attracting backlinks.
Also Read: Site Hierarchy Best Practices
Introduction to website links
When it comes to website links, there are two main types: the links on your website, and the links that point to your website.
Links on a website can be either internal links—pointing to other pages on the site—or external links—leading to content on other sites. An internal link, for example, might take a visitor from a list of hotels on a travel planning website to another page on the same website that includes information about a specific hotel. An external link, however, might take the visitor from a list of hotels on the travel website to the hotel’s official website. External links are also commonly known as outbound links.
Links that point to a website from other sites are called backlinks—also known as inbound links. For example, if an online article about the best vacation packages includes a link to a travel planning website, that would be considered a backlink.
Best practices for internal and external links
The following are best practices to keep in mind when creating internal and external links.
Use appropriate anchor text
Anchor text is the visible text in a hyperlink. In the example below, “Learn more” is the anchor text.
Good anchor text helps visitors navigate your site and helps Google understand what the page you’re linking to is about.
Anchor text should be:
- Descriptive: Use anchor text that provides a basic idea of what the page linked to is about.
- Avoid using generic anchor text like “page,” “article,” or “click here.”
- In most cases, you’ll want to avoid using the URL itself as anchor text.
- Concise: A few words or a short phrase is all you need for anchor text.
- Avoid linking an entire paragraph or long sentence.
- Easy to spot: Use formatting that makes your links stand out from the regular text on your website.
- If the link only becomes apparent when a visitor moves their mouse over it, they can easily miss the link—or even accidentally click on it.
- Helpful: Use anchor text only when it helps a visitor navigate your site to find the information they need.
- Avoid using lengthy anchor text just for search engines.
Avoid stuffing the anchor text with keywords.
Use caution with external links
Linking to other websites can be beneficial, but you need to avoid linking to sites that may not be reputable or that may include information you don’t want to endorse.
Some users may try to take advantage of external linking for their own website’s benefit. For example, they may add a link to their site in the comments section or message boards of a website. Or, a third-party software application added to a site, such as live chat, might include unwanted external links.
In these cases, you can use nofollow links, which are links that feature HTML code that tells search engines to ignore that link. This means the search engines won’t associate your website with the site you’re linking to.
If your site includes public comments or message boards, it’s a good idea to automatically use nofollow links for all comments and messages added by users. This is generally a faster and more efficient process than manually removing external links every time they appear in the comments section or message boards.
Promoting your website
One of the ways that Google determines a website’s ranking is by analyzing the sites that link to it. Both the quality and quantity of links count towards a site’s ranking.
Creating quality content that other people want to link to is the best way to promote your website and attract backlinks. This is a gradual process that happens as people discover a website’s content and link to it. Promoting your website can help this process by making it easier for people to find your content.
Ways to promote your website
Here are some ideas to help you promote your website and attract backlinks:
- Publish blog posts about new content or new services you offer.
- Share quality content on social media.
- Feature helpful articles, such as buying guides, in your email marketing.
- Connect with online communities related to your sites, such as forums or message boards, social media groups, or related websites.
- Only share content that will interest your users, instead of sharing every update to your site’s content.
Google warns against using paid links unless they are for advertising purposes and properly labelled. Buying and selling links to manipulate search results is not an acceptable practice and can negatively impact a site’s ranking. It can also lead to low-quality backlinks from sites with a questionable reputation.
Using internal and external links with appropriate anchor text helps visitors find the information they need. Promoting your website and attracting backlinks helps you increase the quality and quantity of links pointing to your site, which can build your site’s reputation.
Resources for more information
To learn more about linking and promoting a website, read this article:
Google Search Central: Learn how to use links wisely
Related: How to Optimize a Website’s Content?