Adding links to your wellness blog posts enhances your readers’ experience and can have benefits for your business as well. While it does take extra time and thought, it is well worth the effort.
Internal versus external links
There are two types of links you can add to a blog post:
- Internal links take the reader to another page on your site. This might be:
- Another blog post about a related topic
- A page about a product or service
- A contact page
- A landing page for a special event or offer
- External links take the reader to another site, such as:
- A research study, abstract, or journal article
- Related content you wrote on another site or social media network
- A reference site that defines or explains a term or concept
- Another resource or blog post for tips, products or services related to the topic
3 ways to add more effective links to your wellness blog
1. Choose meaningful anchor text
Anchor text is the word(s) people click on in order to visit your link. It is typically set apart from the rest of your text by being underlined and/or in a different color. Ideally, your website is set up so that once someone clicks on a link, it changes color so visitors can easily see which links they’ve already clicked.
It’s important to use meaningful anchor text, rather than non-descriptive terms like “Click here” or “Visit this link.” To help your site rank higher in search engine results, you can use keywords as your anchor text – with two important caveats:
- They must be natural – Ultimately you are writing for readers, not for search engines. If the phrase can’t be worked into the sentence clearly using proper English, do not sacrifice readability or credibility. Instead, Andy Crestodina suggests you add the full title of the post you’re linking to, either in parentheses or within the sentence (e.g., See Internal Linking: 9 Best Practices for SEO and Internal Links).
- They must be varied – This Moz post cautions us to not to always use the same phrase when linking back to a particular blog post or other page of your website. Doing so can look spammy – both to readers and to search engines.
2. Provide descriptive title text
The title text is what readers see when they move their mouse over the underlined text in your blog post. A little box pops up with whatever text you’ve entered. If you don’t enter any text, they may see the URL of your link at the bottom of their screen, or depending on their browser they may see nothing.
Providing title text gives your reader additional information about the link, and you can also incorporate a call to action. This is particularly important if your typical readers are not very web-savvy. Ask yourself, will they instantly recognize underlined text as a link and know they can click to read more, or would it be helpful to see a message like, “Click here to read the related post, “Post title”?
Note: When I wrote the original version of this post in 2014, I was setting title text for every link. Since then, my assistant and I decided to let that go in favour of a quicker and more efficient workflow. I still think title text is helpful though, and after this new look I’m thinking that a balanced approach to using title text might be the key.
3. Set target options with care
The target of a link refers to what will happen when a reader clicks on the link. By default, the new page will open in the same window and the user can use the “Back” button to return to your blog post.
I have a plugin installed on my site that automatically has external links open in a new window, while internal links open in the same window. I’m happy for visitors to get lost in my other blog posts or pages, because I know that wherever they are on my site, they are always one click away from more information about my topics or my business. But if they click away in that same window, they may not (remember to) find their way back.
If you do choose to have links open a new window, web accessibility experts recommend including a note in your title text that notifies users what will happen, e.g., “link opens in a new window.”
As I noted before, since writing this original article in 2014 I have stopped using title text, though now I am reconsidering this for all external links as well!
Here is a quick video tutorial for adding links, whether you’re working in Microsoft Word or WordPress. Tip: The same technique also works in Google Docs, you’ll just need to add your title text as a comment.
5 best practices for blog links
- Vary your links. While internal links serve up more useful information that reinforces your expert status, increase the time visitors spend on your site, and improve your search engine ranking, external links help you make valuable connections with other experts and showcase your industry knowledge.
- Limit your links. In Crestodina’s article, he suggests including no more than six internal links in the main text of your blog post. You can have between 75-100 in total, he writes, but that includes links in your navigation menus, sidebars and footer. Too many links can make your post look suspicious to search engines and can also seem cluttered to readers. Be sure every single link provides value.
- Position your links. Links closer to the beginning of your post will get more attention from both search engines and readers alike. Moz points out that Google will flat out ignore links and anchor text if you’ve already linked to that page earlier in your post.
- Monitor your links. Broken links create frustration for your visitors and can diminish your credibility. There are several tools for checking broken links on your website. Ask your web developer for recommendations. Also, review your older posts periodically to see what new resources you can link to that you’ve created or discovered since writing the original post.
- Highlight your links. Avoid using underlined text for emphasis on a blog or anywhere on a website. People have come to associate underlined text with hyperlinks and will assume you forgot to add the link or it is not working. This can then create additional confusion when visitors come across one of your actual links.
Links from your own site and across the web can enrich your blog posts immeasurably with valuable information for your readers. Using the above three techniques for adding links can grow your business by helping new people find your blog, and giving them a better experience once they arrive.
How do you use links in your blog posts? Do you lean more towards internal links or external links? What makes you appreciate links on other wellness blogs?
This post was updated from one that originally appeared on the SteamFeed blog, which is now closed.