Internet marketing discussions have recently focused on the SEO value of external links, especially with recent guidance from Google’s Search Engineer Matt Cutts. In a attention-grabbing video, Cutts said that other factors like web design and user experience have a greater influence on PageRank. However, Cutts underscores his point that links have many good years ahead of them.
Link at the beginning or end?
Cutts answers a question about external linking best practices in a new clip, explaining how publishers should give credit to primary sources when producing original web content for their sites. (Note the emphasis on content being created by writers or bloggers, using white hat materials for sources. Cutts says this doesn’t apply to spammy autobloggers.)
In terms of SEO, publishers can include links in the text body – attaching links to words such as “study” or the source’s name – or create a list at the bottom of the page. Links will flow PageRank whether they’re at the beginning or end of an article, he says.
Don’t make readers work harder than they have to
“Be considerate on the web and share credit and attribute so that people can do the research for themselves if they want to.”
However, Cutts’ personal preference is that sites provide backlinks early on in the article, so readers can find the original source as they’re reading rather than scroll all the way to the bottom in order to see the primary data. While it may not influence domains’ positions in search engine results pages, marketers might be interested to learn about something that really ticks Cutts off – online content that doesn’t link back to the original source at all.
For instance, a blogger or journalist might cover a report and provide the proper citation, but fail to include a hyperlink back to the document. This forces readers to jump through hoops if they want to see that actual data after reading the coverage, Cutts implies.
“Link to your sources, whether you’re a journalist, whether you’re a blogger. Let people go and look at the original information themselves so that they can suss out … what they think about whatever it is you’re writing about,” he says.
“Link to your sources, whether you’re a journalist, whether you’re a blogger.”
Cutts says webmasters should not misinterpret this as ranking advice – he’s “just asking everybody to be considerate on the web and share credit and attribute so that people can do the research for themselves if they want to.”
By taking these suggestions to heart, marketers can improve their linking practices and user experience in tandem. Plus, they might even win a few brownie points with Cutts.