By now, you’re probably aware of the importance of links when it comes to serving up high-quality content that the search engines appreciate enough to put you on page one of the SERPs. While you might not know exactly how they impact your ranking (because, let’s face it, even Google’s explanations of its algorithms is vague enough to indicate pure complexity at every angle), you need to understand that they’re necessary in the grand scheme of things. With that said, there’s a lot that goes into the sourcing and citing of great links. Besides finding reputable authority sites from which to build your own content, you need to be careful not to steer your readers off of your own pages once you’ve gotten them there.
Let’s back up a little and explore the job of link juice in the world of SEO and positive user experiences.
Why Do Links Matter?
The search engines look at your use of links for a number of reasons. To begin with, the anchor text on which a link is built helps the search engines understand what the page is about. These context clues, in turn, enable the algorithms to understand how the information you’re offering relates to the audience who’s doing the searching. The more clearly defined your advice is, the more likely you are to appear at the top of searches when people are looking for the products you’re peddling.
Links also help search engines understand how valuable the content you’re providing readers actually is. This is where domain authority comes into play, but that’s really a conversation for another day. The long story short is that, when you’re able to achieve inbound links from reputable sites—and outlink to sources of the same caliber, you’ll increase your reputation with the search engines. This, in turn, will help bolster your overall ratings and help increase visibility to your audience. In case you’re curious about domain authority, HubSpot explains it this way:
“From Google’s perspective, domain authority is like your website’s reputation as a thought leader. The search engine uses your domain authority to make sure you can provide the highest-quality content about your specific subject matter. If you do, you’ll have good domain authority and Google will boost your content’s rankings. If you don’t, you’ll have bad domain authority and they won’t rank your content.”
There are actually three different types of links—each of which serves its own purpose in helping your audience and the search engines navigate the quality, purpose, and usefulness of the messages you’re delivering.
- Internal Links. These are the links you use to steer readers to other parts of your own website. The intent is to provide them with a guide that enables them to continue the learning process with topics that are relevant to the stuff they’re currently reading. For example, we might take this time to tell you that the WriterAccess blog is a great place to learn all sorts of helpful content-centric information. In this case, we’re sending you to another page within our own URL (internally).
- Outbound Links. You use these to back up stats and data or to cite other resources your readers will find helpful. When we referenced HubSpot above, that’s an outbound link because it’s sending you to a different URL altogether.
- Inbound Links. This type of link brings readers to you from an external source. If you found this blog because a writer at Forbes linked to it, that would be an inbound link for WriterAccess.
What’s the Deal with Opening Links Into New Windows?
Now that we’ve dissected links a little bit, we should talk about why it’s important to open them into new windows. Once you’ve gone through the painstaking process of finding reputable sources that match the mission and vision you’re trying to convey in your company’s own messaging campaigns, why would you want to send someone away from your site?
There’s a balance between providing readers with information that can fulfill their knowledge needs without hurting your site’s reputation.
Outbound links deliberately send your audience away from your site. That’s really contradictory to the status you’re trying to achieve as a thought leader and information-provider. When your links don’t open into a new window, the content you’ve carefully honed is immediately replaced with someone else’s words. You’ve created your own bounce-rate conundrum. Besides bolstering a higher bounce rate (which is bad, by the way), you’re frustrating an audience who might’ve otherwise been super engaged in the words you were putting out into the world.
If someone is intrigued by your content and wants to continue reading, while still enjoying the other information you’ve provided, they have to manually copy and paste your outbound link into a new window and backspace on the original page to get back to your own content. If that sounds like it’s annoying—you’re absolutely correct. Busy people won’t have the patience to do this, and if you make a habit of sending people off your pages, they’ll soon quit stopping by altogether. This means you’ll lose leads, engagement, and the gift that comes from social media shares.
Do your user-experience efforts a favor and open your links to new pages automatically so your readers don’t have to do that work for you.
Are you in search of highly skilled content writers who know how to create content that speaks to online audiences? WriterAccess is here to help! Armed with thousands of writers who specialize in all things related to the web, you’ll certainly find writers and strategists who can take your posts to the next level. Get started today!
Kristin B is interested in anything that teaches her something new or gives her a different perspective on something she already knew. She’s a self-proclaimed Learn Nerd, which means the world is her educational oyster, and she’s always seeking opportunities to learn from life’s experiences and her clients’ assignments.