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Improve SEO by Utilizing Links

Previously, we looked at how search engines index websites and how keywords can improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Now we will look at improving SEO by utilizing links to communicate more information to visitors and search engines through the use of attributes, descriptive phrases, and creating inbound links.

What exactly is a hyperlink?

A hyperlink is a word or phrase enclosed between an opening and closing html <a> tag that connects related documents across a website or from one website to another. The word or phrase in between the <a> tags is referred to as hypertext. Within the opening <a> tag, several attributes can be applied. The href attribute specifies the document the link goes to and the rel attribute specifies the relationship between the current and linked documents. Here is an example of the code:

<a href="" rel="bookmark">Read the full article.</a>

The rel attribute

The rel attribute tells search engines of the relationship between the current and linked document. Not all hyperlinks need a rel attribute but for those that do, there are several values which can be used depending upon the link. For a complete list of rel values visit

  • alternate: a link to an alternative version of the document such as a print page, translation, or mirror

  • author: a link to the authors page

  • bookmark: a permanent URL for bookmarking

  • license: a link to copyright information

  • nofollow: a link to an unendorsed document like a paid advertisement link

  • prev: a link to the previous document in a selection

  • next: a link to the next document in a selection

  • tag: a link for a tag or keyword in the current document

Hypertext should be descriptive

When creating links, common practice is to insert the destination URL like “”, “Read more…”, or “Continue Reading” as the hypertext. Though this gets the job done, it doesn’t tell viewers or search engines much about the linked document. Instead, try being descriptive in the hypertext.

For example, if a link takes a visitor from a recipe catalogue index to a potato salad recipe page, a descriptive link would be “View my favorite potato salad recipe.” By providing more information about the linked document in the hypertext, visitors will be enticed to click-through to the recommended recipe. This also provides search engines with more information about the linked document for purposes of indexing the content.

Inbound Links

The number of inbound links a page has from related sites improves a sites web authority. This is the weight search engines give to a web page based upon several factors including the popularity of the page. A page’s popularity can be influenced by the amount of traffic a page receives and by the number of inbound links a page has from related sites. There are two common types of inbound links, editorial and self-created.

Editorial Links

These are links that appear on related sites that link back to your content. These links often take additional outreach to blogger’s and companies for them to include your link on their website.

Self-Created Links

These inbound links are accomplished by commenting on related blog or forum posts with a link back to your site. When commenting, post positive comments loaded with keywords and descriptive hypertext, if possible.

Another great place to create links is on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Every social media profile has a biography section where you can create a link to your website or blog with keyword descriptive hypertext. You can also post inbound links directly in posts to promote and increase traffic to your site.

As you can see, there are a number of ways to utilize links to improve SEO. With a little perseverance and time, any website’s search ranking can improve by using link attributes, descriptive phrases, and by creating inbound links as part of their overall SEO efforts.

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Ted is a graphic designer and front-end developer who specializes in branding, marketing, and website development.