Studies have shown that in general, people on the web do not read content word for word; instead, they quickly scan pages. From the point of view of search engine optimization (SEO), as well as user experience (UX), hyperlinks should concisely describe the content that you are linking to, to jump out at the user and serve as anchor points for scanning.
Your links should rarely say “click here,” “learn more,” and so on—that conceals what a user is clicking on and provides almost no SEO value. It can also be helpful to place your links at the end of a sentence. This way, a user understands the full thought you are trying to convey before having to decide if they want to visit the link.
Here’s a breakdown of some more tips for maximizing SEO and enhancing UX with your hyperlinks.
Use your keywords.
The part of the text that is hyperlinked will be given more weight in search engine rankings than the rest of the text. This will give some benefit to the page containing the link, but it will help the page that is linked to even more.
For example, we have an article that mentions LEED v4. We hyperlink the phrase “LEED v4 is the international standard of high-performance structures” to the static LEED v4 webpage, so the static LEED v4 page will now be more likely to come up if someone searches “high-performance structures.”
If an external website links to your site, the same rules apply. The more visitors and inward-pointing links a site has, the more the entity is considered an authority, and the more SEO value a link from their site to another has. Think about what words people may be searching that could be used to direct them to your content—those are the keywords to place into your web content, especially page titles, headlines and links.
Get into Google Quick Answers.
Google Quick Answers are boxes that appear at the top of a Google search after someone asks Google a question. Getting your content into a Quick Answer box can significantly increase traffic to your site. You can enhance your chances of appearing there by phrasing content in a way that answers a specific question. You could also phrase a link as a question or answer and then link to your own content.
- Not optimized: Smart Cities, a course on using smart technology, features Alyson Laura, as she discusses smart cities with two guests.
- Optimized: Smart Cities is a course on using smart technology. It features Alyson Laura, as she discusses smart cities with two guests. (This is phrased as a direct answer to a question—”What is Smart Cities?—and the entire answer is linked.)
However, make sure you don’t put in extra keywords where they don’t belong—this is called “keyword stuffing,” and you will get the opposite results that you are looking for. Keep a natural flow to your content, and use keywords when they are appropriate. Basically, what Google says is key to great SEO is to create great content and an overall great user experience.
Make choices that are best for your site.
Google does not give away all its secrets, and what is best from a UX standpoint depends on many factors. Even the experts disagree on questions such as “Should I include just the noun in the hyperlink, or the noun and the verb, or the entire sentence?” Here are my thoughts as we look at a few scenarios.
- After you finish your first class, review Smart Cities to learn even more.
This simplification helps create clarity for both users and search engines, but if you want to emphasize the user taking an action, you can link the verb as well:
- You’ll be learning in no time if you purchase Smart Cities.
For a list of resources on the page, it is often best to use the full title of the page you are linking to and to link the entire title. From a user perspective, you may also wish to describe what the page does, if it is not in the page title.
Such choices depends on the design of your site (consistency is important), how many links are on the page and how important it is for the user to see the link. Often, rather than integrating the link into the body copy, you can make it stand out to your user by creating a button over the link.