How to put links in your blog with clear anchor text
Want to know how to add neat links to your blog posts? Our resident blog doctor Jax Blunt has the answers. Here, she talks us through the process in Wordpress and Blogger, fills us in on making links look professional, and explains what a 'nofollow' link is.
Jax has been blogging at Making It Up about children, home education, politics and books for 10 years. She builds Wordpress based websites at Colneis and spends far too much time on twitter as @liveotherwise.
One of the things that you'll want to do when writing a blogpost is link out to other sites. It's easy enough to put a link into your post, but do you know how to make it look good, and use the link text you want? If not, then read on.
What you will be linking to is a URL – the thing you type in the address bar to get to a website. It starts with http:// and the one you'll know best is your own. The text that is hyperlinked (clickable) in your post is called the anchor text, and it doesn't have to be the same as the URL. It's good for readers if you let them know what you're linking to – so I might write about about Mumsnet Bloggers Network – a way of linking up with other bloggers and my anchor text is informative, telling readers, and search engines, what I'm talking about.
But how do you go about putting the link in and making it look like that?
Wordpress gives you a tool for it. If you're in the visual editor it's right there, looks like this:
Clicking on it gives you this little box:
The site you're linking too goes in the top entry field - the rest of it might need some explanation. The title is what you see when you mouse over a link. It can be used by screenreaders (assistive technology for blind people), and absolutely shouldn't be keyword stuffed although it might look tempting, so please don't.
To insert the anchor text you select the bit you've written that you want hyperlinking, before you click the link tool. Good anchor text improves the flow of your post and looks far cleaner than a hyperlinked URL. So do give that a whirl the next time you're writing a post.
Blogger has a similar setup for those using their system. The dialog is a bit more informative:
As you'd expect there's a place for the anchor text, the link and even a way of setting your link as nofollow. If you want to do use nofollow links on wordpress - and see below for when you should - you'll either need a plugin, or to get familiar with the text option in your editor. I favour using the text option - find the link code which starts < a href= and before you get to the closing > you add in rel="nofollow"
Not sure what nofollow is about? That's OK. It's a special tag that you can add to tell google not to pass 'page rank' to the link you're including. Pagerank is one of the ways Google determines how important a page is. It's to do with how many sites of what authority link to a particular page.
You should use it if you've been paid to include the link (and this includes having goods to review according to Google guidelines) as Google frowns upon payment to improve search results. Some people will say that it's good practise to do this for all links on your site – actually that's not true. That says to Google that you don't value any of the sites you link to, and doesn't help to build a picture of the web for search engines. So the thing to do is educate yourself about linking and take it from there. Google's guidelines on nofollow links are here and worth a read.