The Internet is built on connections which are represented by links. A link connects one site to another. When a reader clicks on the link, it takes them through a shortcut to another page. I think of this shortcut as a portal to another dimension or a slide in the game Chutes and Ladders. Both inbound and outbound links can factor into search engine ranking for a website, therefore link strategy has become part of the SEO marketer’s bag of tricks. In 2013, as Google continued its mop-up mission, Matt Cutts, head of the webspam team at Google, announced stricter rules for using links. The main thrust of his announcement was that links used strictly to manipulate PageRank (PR) were prohibited and would result in Google dings or penalties if found.
What Does That Mean for Webmasters and Writers When It Comes to Using Links?
It is nonsensical to think that any article on the Internet can be written without links. Links are used to show sources, refer back to previous posts, and point to additional resources. All of these links are legitimate uses for linking. Therefore, links in and of themselves cannot be bad. As we move forward looking for ways to promote our companies and conscientiously provide worthwhile content for our websites, what guidelines should we use for linking?
In an excellent article in Search Engine Watch, “Link Building in 2014 is All About Building Your Brand & Reputation,” Eric Enge points out that there are five guidelines when adding both incoming and outgoing links to your site in order to build links the right way.
- Would you create the link if Google and other search engines did not exist? In other words, are you inserting the link for SEO purposes only? If you are, then don’t use it. If it offers a value, the link is okay.
- If the law required that you show a sample of your links to your customer or prospect, would you be happy to do so? If your link profile is embarrassing to you, then you are doing something wrong. You should not be ashamed to show someone your links.
- Is the link to your site a genuine endorsement? If it isn’t, it is a failed link.
- Can you make an argument that justifies the use of this link? Good links need no justification.
- Would someone seeing a link to your page have a decent chance of desiring to click through because of interest in your company with the potential to become a customer? If not, the link is not needed.
If you can answer these questions honestly when adding links, then you are in the clear. Links should be relevant to your content. When you hire freelance writers to create content for you, this strategy for linking is the right one to use. Links used for legitimate sources and references will add to your site’s ranking and authority for SEO and more importantly, for your actual readers–the people you hope will become customers for the long term.
Paula A is a writer by day and a voracious reader by night. She is currently trying to keep her house clean and her mind uncluttered…or is it the other way around? She specializes in sales and marketing, hazelnut lattes, and admiring local art.