Some way or another you’re gonna’ have to link some schtuff on your site — your blogroll, tags, buttons, throng of social networking icons, etc. So, what’s your style?
Me? I’m a “text link” sort of guy. They’re pretty intuitive, they imply action, and they help improve SEO. Follow a few simple steps, and your links will do wonders for your site, while also providing great linkage to wherever you’d like to take your guest.
1: Stay Pithy
Use no more that three to four words if you can. “But what if there’s an organization that has a four-word name (e.g. Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art) and you have to add a CTA?” Iz O.K. Thanks to acronyms, you should have already identified said spot as MOMA. Then, simply say Check out MOMA.
2: Avoid Lazy Linkage
Shame on you for not hitting [sfht+return] to give your link a nice clean soft break. Never leave half your link on one side of your article wondering where its better half is. This can look especially bad when your article width is greater than 500px. Keep you links in a happy, loving relationship. If you have to remove a word or two to make your links fit, then “massage the copy.” It feel so good. Rub you long time. Taking the time giving your copy the ol’ rub down will add one extra layer of proofing — and that ain’t never a bad thang.
3: “Click Here!” I Don’t Think So.
Okay, we’re all guilty of this one, right? I’ve used it before, I have. But that was back in Web 0.85. Well I’m still seein’ it. ”Click here to enroll in out program today.” How about a simple “enroll now,” eh? “How nice, they made enrolling so intuitive. I’m in.”
4: Stop Defining Links as “This Link”
Assume your audience are savvy; they know how to use the Interweb; they know that links look different than the rest of the text, and that funny little finger pops up on rollover, and sometimes the underline changes a different color.
5: Links Should Relate to Your Post
This rule is more specific to personal sites, but all should take heed. The main reason for having links throughout a single post is to shed more light on your subject to your reader. If you’re writing a movie review that stars Paul Ruebens, it’s okay to link your reader to his IMDB page, or even his rap sheet. Be smart about links throughout your post. You want people to stay on your site.
6: Want an Action? Use a Verb.
You want someone to apply for a job, download your music demo, or enroll in a program? Use a word that implies an action: “apply now, download my demo” or “enroll today.” Take your initiative even further by placing this CTA at the end of your paragraph. Most people read with their hands on little mousey, some even follow the words with their cursor (they’re over 50 and shop at WalMart). By making your link stand out at the end of a statement they’ll naturally by inclined to “clickety-click-click.”
So What’s the Bottom Line?
Be smart about your links. In most cases, a corporate site will have different reasons to link than a small, personal blog. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t maintain proper linkage. Using the correct words and format will help to ensure better click-thru rates, and if you’re uber-smart about it, help with your SEO.