Some of you know about how links work on the Internet. Others don’t. If you’re in column A, nothing to see here. Watch this instead. For the rest of you, let’s dig in.
Search is a very important part of online communication. I know you don’t normally think of it that way, but think about it for a moment. When you ask Google for something, it’s a query and a response. It’s a communications path. Think now like a marketer. Every communication is a chance to build a business relationship (or a nonprofit relationship, or an education relationship, etc). Now, with that in mind, you need to understand how search is impacted by links.
First, a disclaimer: I don’t suggest that I know all the ins and outs of link authority and stuff like that. For that stuff, read SEOBook. Smarter folks than me. But here’s what I do know. If I’m wrong, this post is all yours for ripping apart and making better in the comments. I’m betting ahead of time that the comments will be better than the post.
How Links Move Traffic Around
Links tell Google (and when I say “Google,” assume I mean “anyone searching for something using the Internet) what is important. If I link to Jon Swanson, Google assumes there must be something useful there. Further, because my site is reasonably trusted by Google, it presumes that I’m not sending you to something spammy and yucky. Thus, just by adding a link to Jon Swanson or anyone on my blog, I’m telling Google that people searching for Jon Swanson might be better off going to http://levite.wordpress.com.
What Link Text Means to Search
Look at the previous paragraph. I made the word link the hot text to click. If I had put modern church as the clickable text, that would have told Google that, to me, someone searching for “modern church” might want to find Jon (by the way, Lord knows whether that’s what I’d send people to Jon for, but he’s MY modern church, so there).
So, if someone is searching for writing copy that sells, then I’ve just told them Brian Clark (and his army of other authors) is the way to go. The more times someone links Brian’s site to the text “writing copy that sells,” the more likely someone typing that set of terms into Google will land on Brian’s site. Make sense?
The top seaches on my site, by the way are for “Chris Brogan,” which makes sense, and then “blog topics,” and then “topics to write about.” This all came from 100 Blog Topics I Hope You Write, which is still a popular post on my site, months and months later. I wish I had some better search terms to get people to find me here, but so far, that’s what people link to when they think of me.
The important point I’m making here is this: the words you highlight as the linked text matter to how people find resources on the Web. Google knows when you’re trying to game this system, or do something devious, but for the most part, they also understand that enough pointers from lots of sites saying similar things probably means it’s accurate. (Again, feel free to disagree if I’m wrong.)
- Be conscious of how you link to other sites in posts.
- Consider what people are searching on to get to your site.
- Are there ways to guide people to link to you using the terms you’d prefer?
- Take the time to link to other people’s stuff. Linking in to your own articles and materials is greedy.
- Links are communication/conversation/conversion. Treat them with respect.
And now, far more importantly, what else can we add on this topic? You’re smarter than me, many of you. Help educate people further, will you?
Photo credit, Jared (who is awesome!)