To the Inbound Marketer, links are as valuable as gold.
They drive interaction, increase credibility and accelerate SEO. That is, when they’re used correctly.Without proper link etiquette, search engines will refuse to help a site be found. Bad link etiquette can negate your blogging efforts and prevent your customers from finding your website. To avoid this pitfall, follow these rules of link etiquette to help your website become the belle of the ball.
#1: Place Your Links Directly in the Text
The most successful blogs will structure words into sentences that serve as the link to another page rather than writing “click here to learn more about internet etiquette” after the sentence.
Exception: The use of click here is relevant at the end of content when a call-to-action is included.
Here is an example of what this looks like in action:
No: Dry-erase markers are changing the game for teachers. Click here to learn how.
Yes: Dry-erase markers are changing the game for teachers.
#2: Always Redirect Links to a New Window
Seriously. If the link is not the next logical step in what the visitor is currently doing, it should never take away from the current page. It interrupts the content they were looking for, makes reading the content more difficult and removes them from your site. All that work put into attracting visitors and leads is tossed out the window with a link that opens in the current window.
#3: Work The Cocktail Party
Cocktail parties are all about connecting – so is linking. Just as it’s off-putting for one to talk only about oneself when socializing, it’s off-putting to readers if links only direct them to something else on that site. No longer is that site a reliable resource because it only redirects the visitor to another page it produced. Provide information from reliable sources with the goal of connecting others when a mutual benefit is possible and credibility will increase.
Pair this with the Cocktail Rule. Tailor the ratio of links on your site like this:
- 10 links to third-party resources
- 4 links to company-produced pages
- 1 link to a specific landing page for your company
Following this rule establishes a company as truly helpful in the customer’s mind. It makes the customer feel as though the bottom line of a company is not dollars and cents, but making sure they are informed and adequately educated before making a purchase decision.
#4: Always Include the Original Source
Give credit where credit is due. Plagiarism is a serious offense at all levels of writing. Make no mistake, finding inspiration on the web is absolutely fine and can be a jumping point for a fantastic blog post. But be sure to attribute the inspiration or, in some cases, specific content back to its original source. If something out there matches content creation at your company, link up. Chances are if the writer found something helpful in crafting a post, the reader can benefit from that information as well.
#5: Say No to Irrelevant, Interrupting Links
News organizations do this all the time: a story about food safety has three or four links between paragraphs linking to other stories about the latest smartphone trend or conflict on another continent. Those links are unrelated to why the visitor came to that article in the first place and are, therefore, unhelpful and can be annoying to the reader. Intermittent linking is not essential to a blog post and often detracts from the main point of the page.
Use these tips to become well versed in link building etiquette to build credibility in your blogging practice. Are there any “unspoken” rules of link etiquette that you didn’t see here? Better yet, is there anything that particularly irks you when interacting with links?
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