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Ryan Sciamanna is an entrepreneur in Greater Cincinnati. He started his 1st business in 2009 & sold it in 2018. He's been playing around on the internet ever since making passive income & providing web services to businesses.

Links are very important to SEO.  This article will cover links used for SEO purposes on the web.

You’ve probably heard something about backlinks if you’ve spent any time at all trying to understand SEO on your own.  Backlinks are very powerful but other links matter too.

In interest is often referred to as the World Wide Web.  The ‘web,’ much like a spider’s web, is created by links.  It is really what makes the web work.

FYI, we are talking about the same thing if you are used to referring to links as hyperlinks, anchor text, anchor links, clickable text, or clickable links.

Gain a full understanding of what it takes to rank a website in 2021 and beyond by viewing the graphic on our homepage or by reading more of our blog posts on SEO and Websites.

How to wrap your head around hyperlinks

Whenever I am explaining links to a client for the 1st time I always use the analogy of thinking about links as ‘votes.’

If another website is linking to a page on your website it is considered a clear signal to search engine algorithms that the content on the page being linked to is valuable.  In this scenario, a link from a web page to a web page on another website, the link is considered external and a backlink.  We’ll cover this more in-depth shortly.

You can also link from a page on your website to another page on your website.  This is considered an internal link.  You can ‘vote’ for pages on your own website to let search engine algorithms know which pages you consider the most important or most valuable to your website visitors.

Links do get a little tricky when we get into follow and no-follow links, or the difference between text anchors and buttons.

By the time you are done reading this article, you will seriously have an expert level understanding of links on the web.

Types of links on the web

Let’s cover all of the types of links you can find on the web and get you up to speed on each.  Don’t worry.  They’re easy!

Internal and External Links Graphic

External links

External links take you from a webpage on Website A to a webpage on Website B.

Example, <a href=”https://anotherwebsite.com/linked-page” target=”_blank”>This is the link</a>.

Note: The target=”_blank” portion of the link tells browsers to open it in a new tab.

Internal links

Internal links take you from a webpage on Website A to a different webpage on Website A.

Example, <a href=”/linked-page”>This is the link</a>.

Note: If you are linking internally, do not include your site’s URL, just the URL slug of the page you are linking too.

Follow links

Follow links tell the search engines to reference/credit the content found on the page being linked on Website B as an additional resource to the content found on the webpage of Website A where the link is found.

Example, <a href=”https://anotherwebsite.com/linked-page” target=”_blank”>This is the link</a>.

Nofollow links

Nofollow links tell the search engines to not reference/credit the content found on the page being linked on Website B as an additional resource to the content found on the webpage of Website A where the link is found.

Example, <a href=”https://anotherwebsite.com/linked-page” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”>This is the link</a>.

Backlinks

Backlinks are external links.  Follow backlinks have the most potential to provide your website/webpage with SEO value.

Backlinks are much more valuable to the website being linked to if the content on the webpage linking to them is relevant to their business.

Note: Follow backlinks are the only ones that pass along SEO value and the site still needs to be relevant to your website.  If a backlink is nofollow, it still has a little SEO value but it is more of a ‘mention’ on another website instead of being a true backlink.

Rel links?

We’re not getting into things like sponsored links or user-generated content (ugc) links in the article.  But, an important rel= attribute you should be aware of specifically for SEO is the canonical URL which is attributed using rel=”canonical”.  If two webpages on your website have the same info, you should use the rel=”canonical” tag on the page you do not want search engines to show in the search results.  This also lets them know that it is not duplicate content.

Canonical URL tags should also be used if you are writing the original blog post on your website but also posting it to a blogger site.

Example, <a href=”https://sameoranotherwebsite.com/linked-page” rel=”canonical”>This is the link</a>.

Note: This needs to go in the webpage’s header, not in the body of that page’s content.  There are other ways to accomplish this too.

Jump links

Jump links allow you to link to another area on the same webpage.  Google is unclear as to if these types of links provide SEO value, but when used appropriately, they can provide your users with a better experience which should indirectly improve your SEO.  Good user experiences most often lead to more time on your website and more pages viewed per session which definitely improves your page rank.

Example, <a href=”/linked-page/#specific-content”>This is the link</a>.

Note: You will need a set the ID of the element you are linking to for a jump link to function properly.  You can use jump links to scroll to a different portion of the same page or send the user to a specific portion of another page on your website.

How to create a link using HTML and CSS

Most website builders such as WordPress, GoDaddy Site Builder, Wix, and Squarespace will have a ‘link’ option which allows you to highlight the text you want to make a link, add the URL of where the link is pointing to, and choose if the link should open in the same tab or not.

They will also often allow you to style the links globally across your site using intuitive options that don’t require any knowledge of HTML or CSS

If you do need to code out a link, the process is very simple.

Wrap the text you want to become a link in <a> tags.

For example, <a href=”https://anotherwebsite.com/linked-page”>This is the link</a>.  You need to do these using a text editor as doing this as I have in this example using the visual text editor will not prompt the browser to recognize it as valid code to follow.

The only part of the link visible on the front end of the website using the link example above is “This is the link”.

How to style anchor text

It is important to make the anchor text on your website obvious to your website’s visitors.  You can accomplish this in multiple ways.  It is acceptable to underline links to identify them.  You can also make the font bold or change its color.

Examples of ways you can style links:

Links vs buttons

Ok, so by now maybe you are wondering, what is the difference between a link and a button.  Is there even a difference?

Yes!  There is a big difference between links and buttons!

Buttons should perform an action upon being clicked such as submit a form or to prompt a popup to appear over the content on that page.

Links should take you to a webpage or a different area of the same webpage.

In general, the text length used on buttons should be short.  With links,  the text length could be short or include several words.

Make links open in a new tab

It is very simple to make links open in a new tab.  Here is how it is done.

Example link that would open in the same tab, <a href=”https://anotherwebsite.com/linked-page”>This is the link</a>.

If you want this link to open in a new tab, add this code snippet; target=”_blank”

Your link should now look like this, <a href=”https://anotherwebsite.com/linked-page” target=”_blank”>This is the link</a>.

Should I use external links?

Yes, but carefully.

Most of the time it would be more beneficial for a website to keep their website visitors on their website!  Linking externally can provide a little SEO value to your website but the main use of linking externally should be reserved to provide value to your audience.  If you feel sending your website’s traffic to another webpage would provide value to them, then do it.  They will more than likely appreciate it and return to your website at some point in the future.

Another use of external links valuable to some websites would be to link to an affiliate website.  By using your affiliate tracking link to send your website traffic to another website, your website (business) could financially benefit by getting a commission for the referral.

Web Hyperlinks Summary

Understanding how linking works simple but gets a little complex if you want to do it right.  At the end of the day, it’s not all that much information to know, and the value of fully understanding how properly linking between webpages can vastly improve your website’s SEO.