Are You Using the Five Types of
Links Properly?

image of molecular links

This is the first guest post by Ben Yoskovitz.

Not all links are created equally, and not all links serve the same purpose.

Brian Clark reminds us that using click here as anchor text is still valid.

But Lisa Barone disagrees; her argument being that keywords in the anchor text are critical.

They’re both right.

The reality is that you should use links and specific styles of anchor text for different reasons. In fact, there are 5 types of links that are regularly used, each with a different purpose in mind:

  1. Sales Links: Sales links are used when driving people to buy something or go down a specific path. You’re driving people through a funnel to try something, sign-up or buy something. Those are sales links. And “click here” is a completely logical choice for those types of links. Heck, you might try CLICK HERE! Or “get your free x today!”, because “free” is generally regarded as a very strong motivator.

    Most bloggers don’t deal in “sales links” which is why they’re generally turned off by the bland but effective, “click here”.
  2. Really Helpful Resource Links: You could argue that every link is helpful in its own way, but Really Helpful Resource links are those that you use to provide your audience with additional, in-depth information. You don’t want to use too many of these in one post, because the more links, the less likely people will click through. I find they work best when summarizing someone else’s argument (and you should always link to sources) and in lists, when you want to give readers more details from other blogs.

    Here’s a good example: Warning: Do You Know Your Best Customers?

    Most of the links in that post are Really Helpful Resource Links. I’m talking about customer profiling and customer personas, but I don’t go into a ton of detail. Instead, I link to others that have covered the subject matter excellently.

    Really Helpful Resource links can benefit from the use of good anchor text. You might want to use “click here” but you could also try something like, “learn more about anchor text linking strategies to encourage people to click.
  3. Friendly Links: As much as I recommend that you break out and discover new blogs, we all exist within our own communities. And, you’ll often find people linking to one another inside their communities quite regularly. I know I link to a number of people on a regular basis: their content is great, it’s meaningful to my audience and they’re my friends. So why not?

    Too often with Friendly Links, people use their friend’s name or the name of their friend’s blog.

    Mike at Converstations has some simple reminders on how to properly format a blog post.

    Mike at Converstations has some simple reminders on how to properly format a blog post.


    Instead, the best link would be: how to properly format a blog post. Tada! A friendly link with good anchor text.
  4. Notice Me! Links: Bloggers spend a lot of time trying to get other bloggers’ attention. If you’re not, you should. These links can use great anchor text but they don’t have to. They’re just links. Very often, you’ll see them strung together in a sentence, one word after the other. Kind of like this. That’s a bad example, but you can always learn more about maximizing blog traffic from others.

    Notice Me! links are useful even if the anchor text isn’t great. They’re either used to target a specific blogger, or reach out to a slew of them and build attention.
  5. Internal Links: You should link to your own blog posts on a regular basis. Most SEO specialists will tell you that it can help raise the value of the pages you’re linking to. But should you link with great anchor text or not?

    It depends on the purpose of the link. If you’re driving people to take specific actions, then go with a Sales Link. Your entire blog post might be designed to get someone to click here. Or, you might be doing it strictly for SEO purposes to create a nice web of links between your posts.

The best way to encourage action (think: sales links) and gain SEO value (think: killer anchor text) is to combine the two. Beyond that, think about how you format links. Make sure your links have the best chance of standing out:

  • Put them on a single line of text instead of inside a longer paragraph.
  • Highlight them with bold, italics or a different font size.
  • Put them at the top and end of your blog post.
  • Repeat them within a blog post in various ways.

Bottom line: You should link to other blogs. And yours. Often. Understand the type of link and the purpose behind it, and decide at that point what the anchor text should be.

Subscribe to Ben Yoskovitz’s blog and learn about startups, entrepreneurship and how to leverage blogging and social media.

Enjoy this post? Please vote for it at Digg. Thanks!

photo by landruc.

Print Friendly

Smarter is Better Solutions for Smarter Content Marketing

Here’s what we’ve got for you:

  • 15 high-impact ebooks on content marketing, SEO, email marketing, landing pages, keyword research, and more.
  • A 20-part Internet marketing course that lays out a comprehensive path for your own online strategy.
  • An organized reference guide to the “best of the best” of Copyblogger.com, and how it all profitably fits together.
Free Registration

Take The Conversation Further ...

We'd love to know your thoughts on this article.
Meet us over on Google+ or Twitter to join the conversation right now!

Comments

  1. Thanks for the follow-up, Ben. If I had known how much of a stir my dashed-off-in-15-minutes post was going to cause, I would have explained a bit more. :)

  2. The worst linking mistake I ever made was to try and be a little too experimental and recreate the experience of ‘Stumbling’ by placing different links in a row of full-stops. The finished product looked like this:

    . . . .
    . . . .
    . . . .

    Each mark was a link. Predictably, it didn’t go down well — it’s bad from a usability and an SEO perspective. But I did have good intentions: I thought it might be an interesting experiment to have links delivered as a surprise. Lesson learned, I guess!

  3. Great article Ben, I am pretty sure I got the best anchor text out of that lot and you chose a very appropriate article to link to (on linking mistakes)

  4. I frequently try to use the title of the post I am linking as the anchor text. This works best if the headline is descriptive and effective.

    I just don’t like the “click here.” It just seems so spammy. Whether it’s effective or not, it simply gives me a bad feeling in general.

  5. I’ll certainly settle for a “this” anchor text from Copyblogger! But even without a “notice me” link to me, it is a great article!

  6. I just don’t like the “click here.” It just seems so spammy.

    Spammy? What makes people think this way?

    “Click here” is simply a direct and descriptive two word phrase that provides direction. I truly don’t get the problem, and those of us who actually remember what “spam” means certainly can’t understand the wide-spread use of that word for everything that doesn’t comport with idealistic ineffectiveness.

  7. Brian Clark said:

    those of us who actually remember what “spam” means certainly can’t understand the wide-spread use of that word for everything that doesn’t comport with idealistic ineffectiveness.

    Yes, I remember when “spam” meant unsolicited email that you couldn’t unsubscribe from. Often they would tell you to “Click here.”

  8. Awesome article, Ben. Combined with Brian’s article, I’m really starting to think critically about my anchor text.

  9. Yes, I remember when “spam” meant unsolicited email that you couldn’t unsubscribe from. Often they would tell you to “Click here.”

    But you do realize that that’s an illogical association, right? :)

  10. Brian – You love the controversy, come on!

    Thanks for having me as a guest writer, I do appreciate it. Great to see my name up there…*chuckle*

    Jordan – My link to you was a “Notice! Me” link. Not great anchor text, but I was hoping you’d see the link and discover my blog and me.

    Thanks for all the well wishes…keep the thoughts coming!

  11. Great article and many of those same points would apply to linked images. SEO and usability benefit from naming the images appropriately and providing useful alt=”” text.

  12. Ian – I almost wrote a “bonus tip” to link images appropriately, but I didn’t. Was thinking of saving it for another post…

  13. Maybe we can have another article on the most effective call-to-action aka sales links (for long form sales letter)

    =P

  14. “spammers” or “jammers” what ever you want to call it, I get the problem and think that “click here”, although a good choice directionally, shouldn’t be overused when something else could be more appropriate. In the meantime, I remember when spam was canned luncheon meat and spoofed on a Monty Python sketch. Hey Brian, can I put copyblogger on my website links?

  15. Hi Brian.

    You said:

    If I had known how much of a stir my dashed-off-in-15-minutes post was going to cause, I would have explained a bit more. :)

    This kind of stir is good too. I don’t know if I read this on your blog or somewhere else that you should not reveal all your cards in your blog posts and let your readers draw their own conclusions — makes them think and feel part of the overall thinking process.

  16. One more type of link: hidden links to easter eggs. They are a good way to make select readers feel special. And could lead to quite a lot of buzz.

  17. Great article Ben! Not just because I’m anchor text Notice Me! “maximizing”, thanks for that too! This is excellent way to clarify the point that “click here” is still valid in some cases and showing us more ideas on how to squeeze in those extra links to previous articles or other bloggers. I always try to avoid ‘click here’ if possible, but sometimes it just works and shouldn’t be thought of as “the end of your life as a blogger” sort of thing.

    I don’t consider “click here” as spammy at all. If I see “click here” 10 times in a row, than that is spammy!

  18. Great article and well said. Effective linking that is clear and user-friendly not only helps guide people to places they *want* to get to (by clicking through), it keeps the flow of the content going without breaking it up.

    “Click here” has its place, but having an anchor text link looks better, reads better and readers like it.

    That said, nothing annoys me more than a blog post full of text links. Pick good links to add into content, and use text links sparingly; don’t put a link every third word. I’ve seen paragraphs that have five, six or more text links, and it’s distracting as hell to read.

  19. Very good article!

    I’m not agree with not using many “Really Helpful Resource Links” in one page. If the visitor is looking for a specific information he will sure click most of the links. Not all, of course. Let’s take as an example an article from Wikipedia. You go there to find informations about something, so it’s very possible to click most of the links in the list at the bottom of the article.

  20. Hi Ben, youreally helped me put links in perspective – makes sense. After reading your post and Brian’s, I realize how much time I’ve wasted trying to avoid “click here” links on my clients’ websites! I don’t care for the Notice Me! link style. There’s so many links and so little time, as a reader I prefer to have some idea of what a link is about. Sure, it’s great to link to other bloggers, but aren’t you doing the blogger more of a service by putting the link in a context that will motivate your readers to click on the link?

  21. @Ankesh: Hidden links to easter eggs? Sounds interesting…care to give an example?

    @James: I agree that over-linking can be a problem for readability, but it has its place. As much as Notice! Me links might be considered annoying to readers, they are effective at drawing people to you.

    @Iulian: I’ve never read a full Wikipedia entry that’s long, so I’m not a good judge of whether tons of links are good or not (or maybe I am?) I would never argue against providing your audience with valuable resources, BUT, if it starts to be too detailed, or there are too many links, you might consider more than one blog post: think – blog post series.

    @Brad: The purpose of a Notice! Me link isn’t to have someone click on it. If they do, great! But the purpose of it is to get the person on the other end to notice.

  22. Great post, thanks! I’ll certainly keep these linking strategies in mind as I build my website.

  23. “Click here” is simply a direct and descriptive two word phrase that provides direction. I truly don’t get the problem, and those of us who actually remember what “spam” means certainly can’t understand the wide-spread use of that word for everything that doesn’t comport with idealistic ineffectiveness.

    “Click here” is undesirable from an accessibility point of view. Screen readers, and those who use them don’t receive any context when they attempt to “scan” links. Screen readers allow for grouping the links that appear on a page in a list. A list full of “read more…”-s and “click here”-s don’t hold any meaning without context. Even a single “read more…” or “click here” holds no meaning all on its own.

    I understand that links like “click here” and “read more” are best used in conjunction with their surrounding content for context, but that isn’t often the best option when considering those individuals who require assistance when accessing your site, email, blog — whatever. If the link contains meaning on its own, everyone has the chance to benefit.

  24. Bridget, I can accept an accessibility objection. I do not accept an objection that “click here” is spammy.

    And that’s all I was saying in my comment. :)

  25. Very good advice, especially to some like me who is a noob and extraordinarily naive. i have oly just come to the web in my late 40′s and when I first surfed I thought all this underlined text was just to emphasise a point!

  26. Brian, any further feedback on the last question of my post?

  27. Great article Ben, and you sure made a lot of high-profile bloggers happy ;)

  28. Great blog and great comments there. I would like to add in there that if any of you are looking for a SEO Company to help with your link building whether it be gaining links or strictly selling them on your website, you should check us out here at LinkWorth. We have some new products we have recently in the past few months launched. One being Linkpost..great for any of you bloggers out there. Let me know if you have any questions.
    Scarlett T.
    LinkWorth Staff
    http://www.linkworth.com

  29. Great article, Ben, especially as a follow up to Brian’s “Click Here” article. Hopefully, this will provide people with a bit more context as to when “click here” is appropriate, and when it isn’t (though, I thought Brian’s post did a fair enough job of that), and won’t get so many people upset!

    I still hate the “every word in a sentence is a link” style of linking, from a user perspective, but as a Notice Me! link, it can work. All you really want it to drop a trackback on the other person’s blog, so that they notice you.

    Of course, I think if you gave them good anchor text, they’d appreciate it, and might be more apt to start a relationship with you. If you give them good anchor text, you give them an incentive to let you into their network.

  30. A link with poor anchor text buried among other links from Techcrunch can still send you 50 visitors and get you 20 backlinks from splogs (careful on approving the trackbacks)

  31. @Adam: Certainly, the better the anchor text the more likely that people will notice your Notice Me! Links.

    I sometimes see links in Technorati for example to my blog where it seems like it’s very poor anchor text. That can look like a splog linking to me. So you want to be cautious about using Notice Me! links with pointless anchor text.

    Just find a way to write a decent sentence or two that’s keyword-rich, and link the critical keywords…

  32. Just find a way to write a decent sentence or two that’s keyword-rich, and link the critical keywords…

    Expanding on Adam Snyder’s comment. I think that you can write a good post that links to several blogs, in the spirit of “Notice Me” that uses relevant anchor text. It might be easier to just link every word in a sentence, but I think it would be better to use keywords.

    I do not accept an objection that “click here” is spammy.

    OK. I’ll concede, Brian. You’re the expert with all the research data and whatnot.

    Can we at least agree that it’s obnoxious?

  33. Thanks for the link to my article! Greatly appreciate it. I’m a definite believer in good anchor text, but I think it’s still more important who’s linking to you!

    A spammy link with great anchor text will hurt you no matter what. A link from Copyblogger with crappy anchor text will definitely help out.

  34. Wow, Ben, been reading your instigator blog for a while, glad you made it here as a guest blogger :D.

    I definitely learned a thing or two from this article.

    Thanks

  35. Excellent tips. Thanks.

  36. Actually, in reference to (the other) Ian’s comment about ‘ALT’ text – ALT text accords very little value, SEO-wise, these days. It was abused so badly that search engines now ignore it.

    You should still use it, for usability/accessibility reasons. Just don’t expect much lift in the search rankings.

  37. Chris Cunnington :

    I develop websites and I don’t like the using “Click Here” either. However, my boss is from a different generation we have found it very useful to use for websites that aren’t targeted at web-fluent users. It helps to walk them through the site and steps they need to do.

  38. Great article Ben, and you sure made a lot of high-profile bloggers happy ;)

    @Karthik: That’s my job – make people happy. *smile*

    …we have found it very useful to use for websites that aren’t targeted at web-fluent users. It helps to walk them through the site and steps they need to do.

    @Chris: Target audience and Purpose of the links are key in deciding what types of links to use and what anchor text. You’ve provided a great example for why we’d use “Click Here”.

  39. I also don’t use “click here” for accessibility reasons. I don’t have much problem finding better alternatives.

  40. We’ve found buttons more useful for “click here” when listed alongside text when targeting less-savvy users. You can get the best of both worlds — older users click the buttons while younger users and the search engines pick up the context-relevant text links.

  41. I’ve read this article, checked out a few links, but failed to notice that Ben has also linked to my own article. Of course, I really appreciate it.

    However, I was wondering why Technorati didn’t show this link to my blog in my Incoming Links list. I found out about it by looking at my SlimStat and checking the list of Recent domains that referred to my site. Is there something different in the way Copyblogger treats outbound links, or what?

    Another thing is that, in my opinion, excessive linking is more beneficial to the author and to the link’s recepient than to the reader. How many people would be happy to click and check out all those numerous links in one post? I like discovering new blogs and reading more about the topics discussed in the post. But after 5-6 new open tabs in my FF I give up.

  42. For me, accessibility comes first. “Click here” on its own adds no information for the reader, whether using assistive technology or not. If it also fails to provide any SEO juice, it is a double waste of time for me.

    However, “click here to buy the product” or “click here to see client testimonials” are fine. They include the call to action as a direct command, but also tell the person what will happen when they click.
    “Click here for a poke in the eye” – no thanks.

    I use lots of links to other sources to provide further information for interested readers, and add some credibility and backup my argument “blah blah, according to _this page of a well-known site_”.

    I like the idea of the “notice me” links – I have probably been missing a trick here in not using enough of these. Time to go post some links…

  43. Search engines will infer the meaning of a link without anchor text by the surrounding text, so “click here” still passes keyword information, you just have less control over what keywords used.

    http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors
    Inbound Link Attribute > Text Surrounding the Link

    Obviously using your own keywords is better for targeted SEO, but you don’t lose all keyword data by using action terms.

    Furthermore mixing up keywords and action terms in your linking provides a more natural link profile to when linking to your own properties.
    http://www.joostdevalk.nl/click-here-to-read-all-about-a-natural-link-profile/

  44. Great article, Ben, and great to see you take the ‘copyblogger’ title from Brian in the comments.

    Brian’s great and all, but…. ;)

    Nice job, and I hope this boosts your profile, like you deserve.

  45. Great tips, Ben! I’ll take them to heart. I link to other blogs, and my own, quite often, but I don’t do it in the most effective ways.

    Thank you!

  46. I’ve just read Aaron Wall’s SEO Book and he talks about anchor text becoming less relevant with more value being placed on ‘trust’ of the site that is offering the link.

  47. i have always thought using keyword in anchor text is important and try to do so whenever i can.

  48. John – Don’t think about anchor text just in context of SEO. Aaron’s right I’m sure, but anchor text can also be useful to a reader, to let them know what they can expect by clicking on a link.

  49. Hi Ben, you are absolutley right! I have let our clients dictate that SEO is the number one objective. We need to write for our reader!

  50. Hi Ben, you are absolutley right! I have let our clients dictate that SEO is the number one objective. We need to write and link for our reader!

  51. to me spam will always be luncheon meat.

    but i do think the word ‘spam’ is terribly misused these days. or has the new meaning expanded to include things like blind ‘click here’ links?

  52. This is very useful information. Thank you :)

  53. I’m really surprised no one has mentioned the use of the title attribute in links. Googlebot seems to love this, as it provides additional information (and information is good), and makes up for those scenarios when “click here” is the best option. At the same time, you can be including the title of the targeted site or article (I typically put this in the title attribute) and either keywords or click-inducing phrases in the anchor text.

    I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I believe very strongly that it is one of the main reasons my blog has built up the Google Juice that it has.

  54. I remember when those of us that taught internet and HTML taught that ‘click here’ was not professional and that links should be nouns and not contain verbs. I appreciate that comment above that links should tell the user where they are going.

  55. Great Article. I have been mentoring on anchor tags to my team. Explaining the importance of anchor tags in a blog. I love the article and would like to use it as a guide line in my upcoming training. If you have a problem with me sharing your text and blog please notify me. Regardless.. great article

    http://www.PassportMentors.com

  56. What about leaving comments on other blogs? Does that count as inbound link or does Google disregard it?

  57. Personally, i think descriptive text is more useful for linking because it stands out in a sentence or paragraph and creates an intuitive content flow (if done correctly)

    Thanks for the great article!

  58. Notice Me! Links: Bit confused by that, any potential for another post on these in particular? I’m blatently using them all wrong….

  59. Thanks for sharing the nice tips. I knew about the importance of anchor tags but was not very sure about the other types of links. Personally, I feel that anchor tags which call for an action offer better results as far as driving traffic to the sites in links is considered.

  60. I think anchor text is more useful than anything.Anyway,thanks for the good points.

  61. Great article, from now now i will pay more attention to my anchor text.

  62. This is really great and it do provide information on various things. THe anchor tags are also of great use.