One of my favorite things to do every week is to go to my Feedly account and scan through my own customized version of the “web” from within it.
If you’ve never used an RSS aggregator tool like Feedly before, you really should consider it. It saves me so much time and frustration in having to visit numerous websites to find news and content that interests me. And you can pull in anything you want here, whether it be for personal reading (see my “Dogs” category in the screenshot) or for professional purposes (like the “Business” sources).
But I’d be lying if I said I only use this to read the news. I also use it to find share-worthy content for my social media accounts, to get inspiration for articles I pitch to clients, as well as to find sources I can reference in my content.
It’s this last point I want to talk about today as I don’t know if many people think about the quality of links they use in their content. Or perhaps they don’t think about using links, in general, which is a shame because using links–and using them well–in content is not only beneficial for SEO purposes, but also for your readers.
Quality of Links: Why You Need to Give This More Thought
If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re either a writer like myself, a web designer or developer looking to improve your link-building skills, or you own a website and you’re wondering if you the quality of links could be better.
First, let’s distinguish between the two types of links you might use on your WordPress site:
These are links to pages or posts from within your own website.
Here is an example of internal links from one of my blog posts:
Here is another example of internal links from my home page, only these are in the form of clickable buttons:
These are links to pages or posts from other websites. You are most likely only going to find these in blog posts (since why would you link to someone else’s site in the main promotional section of your website?)
Here is an example of how I use external links in my posts:
There’s also such a thing as backlinks. These are links that point to your website from someone else’s and they can help a ton with SEO.
As for why links even matter, well, I’ll give you a few reasons:
- They provide further elaboration on points, if your readers want to explore them more.
- They serve as official citations of someone else’s work or facts, so you don’t take credit where credit shouldn’t be due.
- They give visitors more reason to look around. It’s kind of like getting caught in a YouTube blackhole, only with high-quality and informative links around your site.
- They tell the search engines more about what the particular page is about.
- They also can give your site a more professional and authoritative appearance with search engines when you reference the right quality of links.
Ultimately, links are there to improve the visitor’s experience and to improve your site’s rankability in search. That said, you have to know how to use them correctly if you want those sort of results, which means paying attention to the quality of links as you work.
Video: How to Find and Determine the Quality of Links While You Write
I ran into this article–This Article Has Been Cited 400 Times—but It Doesn’t Exist–a couple months ago on Feedly. Obviously, it caught my attention since much of my reputation as a writer depends on how well I pay attention to the tiniest details, even if it’s something like link-building (which, to be honest, isn’t a small matter at all). So, I was curious to see how so many people erroneously cited the same link.
If you read the article, you’ll see that, for the most part, it was a language barrier that led to the fake link showing up in so many sources. Nevertheless, it got me thinking about other people’s process for finding links and determining their quality before including them in their own content.
While I am going to give you some quick and easy tips to follow that will put you on the right path, I also think it would be helpful to show you a real example of my hunter-gatherer approach to finding and using links in my content. It’s something many of my clients specifically ask me to do more of on subsequent projects together.
So, here is a quick video that shows you exactly how I do this:
As for the finished product, here is what I ended up with:
The first half of the article was compromised of a series of external links that demonstrated my point about freelancer rates:
I also made sure to include high-quality graphics from the reference material:
The final half of the article is where I provided actionable tips for readers to use. This is where my internal links were placed.
These are here to back up each of my points as well as to give readers an opportunity to explore each of them further on their own. In turn, this reinforces the idea that WPMU DEV is an authority on all things WordPress.
I know, I know… You’re busy. You don’t want to spend an additional 10, 15, 30, or even 60 minutes searching around the web or your site for links. Shouldn’t your words and images suffice? Meh. I don’t think so. I think there’s always good reason to share links in your content.
Now that you’ve seen how I do it (and it didn’t take that long, right?), I want to leave you with some parting tips:
- Use an RSS aggregator like Feedly to store your favorite and most well-trusted sources.
- Any time you use a link for the purposes of citing a quote or statistic, always verify it with at least three different sources. You should be able to find the quote from an original article or video. And statistics should come from interviews, original research papers, or case studies.
- Only use external links to high-quality sources.
- Use internal links when they’re relevant; not just because you want people to keep reading more pages on your site.
- Never include a link to a blog post, article, video, and so on if it’s older than a year. You want all information on your site to be as fresh as possible.
- Always open external links in new window and internal links in the same window.
- Choose your anchor text (the hyperlinked words) wisely. The text should explain exactly what the readers will find at the source. However, don’t use your own keywords in the anchor text. You want your page to rank for those keywords, not help someone else’s site do so.
- Try to use more internal links than external. The only exception is if you’re writing a blog post that is dependent on research from other websites.
- When possible, compile a list of all links–internal and external–you want to use in your content before you write it. It’s much easier that way.
It’s not enough to write stream-of-consciousness content for the web. If you want readers to really buy into what you’re talking about, you need to link to high-authority sources, provide expert testimonial or statistics, and create a valuable internal link-building network.
If you’ve watched the video or read through my list of tips and have any questions on what I’ve done or want to share your own tips, please leave a comment. I’d be curious to see what works for you!