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Anchor Text in Links

03/01/2009

Readers of my last post needn’t worry that I’ll be stretching the sailing metaphor some more for the sake of the Google Bot. Today I’d like to talk about a pet peeve. I see web designers and bloggers linking useless words: here, there, or this (among others). The text that makes up the link is called anchor text, and it’s valuable real estate. Google takes links to your site very seriously. Because it understands what it reads, the Google Bot can understand the logic behind a link. If, say, a sailing site links to a seller of sailing gear, it’s a valuable link because it comes from a like-minded site. It makes sense. So what do I tell the Google Bot about where it’s going when it follows a link if I simply link the word “here”?

But let’s forget the Google Bot for a minute. What do you tell your readers with the word “here”? Good writers try to avoid using useless words. If I want to write a sentence that informs my readers about the link they might be clicking on, I use descriptive words in the link’s anchor text. So, if you try to remember that actual people will be reading what you write, think of descriptive links as a favor to them.

The Google Bot appreciates information put forward in an organized and easy to understand (map) format. This blog, for example, has categories, tags, dates, times, comments, feeds, archives. These are all things that Google has learned to appreciate, and reward, because these are all things that people understand, appreciate, and reward. Since hyperlinks are the basis of the web, it makes sense to make links descriptive, for the sake of those who might follow them.

Like with any writing, you shouldn’t lose a chance to say something important, and say it well. Every bit of information you post, every word you write, explains to the world why they should use your goods or services. Why would you want to waste a chance to say it well?

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