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Mastering Link Best Practices for Google: A Comprehensive Guide

If you're looking to get a better understanding of the importance of links in the eyes of Google and how you can improve your link usage for better SEO results, you've come to the right place. Google uses links as a signal when determining the relevancy of pages and finding new pages to crawl. Therefore, making your links crawlable and improving your anchor text can enhance your content's discoverability and understandability, both for your audience and Google.

Making Your Links Crawlable

Google crawlers can only parse your links if they're created as <a> HTML elements (also known as anchor elements) with an href attribute. This is crucial to know because links in other formats are generally not parsed by Google's crawlers.

Link Examples that Google Can Parse:

  • <a href="">
  • <a href="/products/category/shoes">

Even links inserted into a page dynamically via JavaScript are crawlable, provided they use the HTML markup shown above.

Examples of Links that Google May Attempt to Parse (but are not recommended):

  • <a routerLink="products/category">
  • <span href="">
  • <a onclick="goto('')">

Remember, the URL in your <a> element must resolve into an actual web address (akin to a URI) so that Google's crawlers can send requests to it.

Crafting Effective Anchor Text

Anchor text, the visible portion of a link, is a critical factor in conveying the content of the linked page to both users and Google. Anchor text should be placed between <a> elements that Google can crawl.

Examples of good and bad anchor text are:

Good: <a href="">ghost peppers</a>

Bad (empty link text): <a href=""></a>

If you're using JavaScript to insert anchor text, make sure to use the URL Inspection Tool to confirm its presence in the rendered HTML.

Tips for Writing Effective Anchor Text

  1. Descriptive and Concise: Good anchor text is precise, short, and relevant to the page it's on and the page it links to. It should provide context for the link and set an expectation for your readers.

  2. Avoid Keyword Stuffing: Write naturally and resist the temptation to stuff every related keyword into the anchor text. This tactic is not only discouraged, but it's also a violation of Google's spam policies.

  3. Give Context to Links: The words before and after links matter. It's essential not to place too many links next to each other as this makes it harder for readers to differentiate between links.

Leveraging Internal Links

Internal linking is a powerful way to help both people and Google make sense of your site and find other pages on your site. It's beneficial to have every important page linked from at least one other page on your site. There's no fixed number of links a page should contain, but as a rule of thumb, if you think it's too many, it probably is.

Embracing External Links

Contrary to popular belief, linking to other sites isn't harmful. It can, in fact, establish trustworthiness, especially when you're citing your sources. However, the nofollow attribute should only be used when you don't trust the source, not for every external link on your site.

In essence, link best practices are not just about creating a path from one page to another, but about building a web of interconnections that make your site easy to navigate and understand, both for your audience and Google.

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