If your business has a blog, chances are you’re aiming to improve your search engine rank through SEO marketing. Therefore, you’ll want to do everything you can to make your blog more favorable to search engines, and that includes linking to sites outside of your own. External links are integral to creating quality content, because they show that you’ve done your research, and they aid in boosting the reputation of your own site—but only if you choose them wisely. If you provide links to poorly written content or shady websites, you might be hurting your search engine rank. Conversely, high-quality links can show that you’re dedicated to providing better content to your readers, and that can go a long way for your search engine rank.
Only provide links to relevant content.
When you are putting links into your blog content, you should assume that readers will follow those links. That’s why it’s essential to provide links that pertain to the subject of a given blog and offer something extra for readers. If you link to a page that just repeats the content in the blog you’ve written, you aren’t providing anything more to your readers. Find external sites that go deeper on a subject or discuss a related but unique topic about which readers may want to know more. It can also be smart to link to content that offers a different medium for readers to engage with, such as an infographic or video. This can cover your bases in catering to different types of learners who process information in different ways.
Links that lead readers to quality content will likely be from sites that are considered more trustworthy. Still, you should always take a moment to determine if the site you’re linking to is going to reflect positively in your blog. Industry organizations, government websites, and educational institutions are all reliably trustworthy links, so try to seek these sources as you increase external links within your blog. You’ll also want to check that the site has a recent cache date, as this will be a good indicator of whether the site has passed Google’s standards of reputability.
Link to sites that are aesthetically pleasing.
Will readers be inundated with pop-ups or annoying flash features when they follow a link from your blog? Will the site take forever to load or display poorly on mobile? If the answer to these questions is yes, you should move on from that link. Just like you want to offer rich content within external links, you also want to provide a positive user experience. Look for sites with a design that you would want to model your own site after.
Link to sites that will link you back.
As you build the reputation of your blog, you might forge relationships with influential individuals and organizations in your industry. This can be helpful as a source of inbound links to your website, which can be even more powerful in improving the authority and rank of your website. External linking can easily become a two-way street, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of the professional relationships you have with thought leaders in your industry by linking to their sites and asking them to do the same for you.
Mix up your anchor text.
It is not just the link itself that’s important. You also need to consider the text where you embed the link, also known as anchor text. When you’re choosing your anchor text, it can be tempting to just link to your most targeted keywords. This is not a best practice in SEO, however, because it can send up spam flags to search engines. Though keywords are fine for occasional anchor text, you should mix it up with other phrases and phrase lengths. It’s also important to be sure that the anchor text builds accurate expectations of the link’s content.
Steer clear of generic pages.
Two types of pages that you won’t want to link to in your blog are Homepages and Contact Us pages. This is true of both internal and external links. These links will add little value for readers and they are rather generic in terms of the content on them. Focus on linking to deeper content with pages that may not be easy for readers to find without your help.
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