Why Link Text Matters in SEO

For the salesman, it’s a phone call. For a businessman, it might be a signature. But, if you’re reading this, you probably know that, in the world of Search Engine Optimization, amongst other things, it’s about links. Valuable links (particularly inbound links – links from other sites that link to you) are extremely rewarding, and it’s what everybody strives for, either in good web design or SEO. Maybe you’re a new SEO Specialist and you just got your first inbound link and don’t know what to do, or maybe you’re a webmaster designing internal links on your site: in any case, whenever you create or get a link, it’s important to follow through the linking to the end, which means making sure it’s presented properly.

You might wonder why its presentation matters. A link is a link is a link, right? Especially if you get an inbound link from a highly ranked site, then you might think it’s time to start laughing your way to the top spot on Google. But, you shouldn’t laugh just yet: presentation should matter to you because it certainly matters to search engines.  Most search engines operate by indexing websites on the internet, sending out small web-programs called “spiders” or “web crawlers” to browse websites and analyze the keywords and links contained within them, either inbound or outbound. The overall quality (and the quantity secondly) of your keywords and inbound links determines your place on search engines, depending on the query. Think of it as a Google site-to-site salesman knocking on your domain’s door for a moment to analyze it for publication later; you’d want to make sure your site looks superb in hopes of high search engine rankings.

So, what dictates quality links? Aside from the quality of the external site if it’s an inbound link, it’s how specifically the link text targets your keyword audience for your SEO plans. If possible, you should always have your link be your target keyword (“T-shirts” if you’re a T-shirt company, “SEO Classes” for an SEO training company, etc.). Consider link text as a snapshot to search engines of what you offer. As with keywords and headings, search engines will categorize you in queries according to the text of your links, so you want to make sure you get the message across as clearly and succinctly as possible. If your company offers Windows training, you’d want your inbound links to read “Windows Training” not “Click here for Windows Training”: no user will enter “Click here for Windows Training” on Google if they’re looking for training. Therefore, have your links contain only your targeted keywords whenever possible, or as close to it as you can get.

Your links should NEVER:

This also means that, whenever you score an inbound link from another site, you must specify where and how you’d like the link to appear. Webmasters, depending on how busy or demanding their own jobs/lives may be, can often haphazardly slap your link online without giving any thought to how descriptive or appropriate its text might be if you don’t ask for specific criteria for your link.

And note, this is just about SEO. A link with meaningful text is better for the visitor too.

Good luck linking!

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