Ian Lurie // Oct 28 2008
Yo, copywriters. If you freak out about semantic markup, then you have varying degrees of apoplexy over links. But linking is a critical part of smart online copy. Links are why it’s called the world wide web, and not the world wide collection of random disconnected bits and pieces.
So you need to learn. Here’s a quick tutorial from me, a one-time marketing copywriter. This doesn’t go into a lot of theory – it’s strictly step-by-step.
This article is just about internal links – the links you create from one page on your site to another page on your site. If you’re nice, I might do another one about external links.
First, the basics:
I’ll explain each of these as we go through the steps for creating useful links in your blog or web site.
You just finished your article. It’s ready to publish. Now, where are you going to point that link (or those links)?
Find an article, product or other content on your site that’s either related to your new content, provides an opposing viewpoint, or supports your assertions. If you can’t find anything, fire yourself. The next writer will figure it out, I’m sure.
K, found the article? Open it in your browser, if you haven’t already. Now, in your browser’s address bar, select the entire address of that page:
Click “Edit>Copy”. That copies the page address (URL) to your clipboard.
Paste that somewhere – anywhere. A text editor will do. You just don’t want to lose it if your computer crashes, or if you pound your fists bloody on your keyboard after reading this article.
Now you need to figure out where, and how, you’re going to link to that page. Sometimes it’s easy: Last week I wrote a piece about semantic markup for copywriters. So, if you look at the first paragraph of this article, you’ll see that I created a link to that article right there.
A few good tips for link text:
Figured out what you’ll be linking to, and what the text will be? OK, next step.
If you’re feeling dizzy at this point, sit with your head between your knees for a minute. Breathe slowly. Once you’re feeling good again, read on.
It’s time to make that link. Chances are, your HTML editor, blogging tool or content management system has a super-easy way to create links. Open the tool that you use to add content to your site. Generally, you’ll see a tiny chain link icon that you click. That’ll display a box that looks like this:
Highlight the text you want to make the link. Then paste in the page address you copied way back in step 1 right into the ‘link’ field and press enter. Congratulations! It’s a link!
If you work for a draconian tyrant of a boss like me, he or she will probably force you to learn how to code link. Scream: GAAAAAH!
Now, make the damned link. It’s not that hard. Here’s what you do:
In your text editor (that’s what you’re using if you have to hand-code the link), you’re going to surround your link text with the bolded stuff below:
<a href=”http://www.buggybumpers.com/”>buggy bumpers and how they can protect your buggy’s youthful shine</a>
Paste the page address between the ” ” and you’re good to go.
Click the link. Make sure it works. If you don’t, your draconian tyrant of a boss will display your folly on a 10 foot wide screen at the next company meeting as a ‘valuable learning experience’.
Links are at their most powerful when you use them in a concerted effort to boost the relevance and importance of a single page.
Let’s say I have one lonely article or product page about buggy bumpers:
But I want to get a higher search ranking for that phrase. Plus, I want my readers to see lots and lots of stuff about buggy bumpers, so they know my buggy bumper wonderfulness and buy from me.
I am at 34,000 feet writing this, with my COO’s elbows jabbing me. And of course the pilot carefully aimed for turbulence just as they started serving drinks, as f—ing usual. So my writing is a bit silly.
So, I write another article and link it to the first one:
Neat. But not as good as it could be. Create a hub page – a page that will link to every buggy bumper-related page on your site. It could just be a simple list of links with short summaries of each article. As you add new articles to your site, add them to that hub, and link to the hub from each article:
Voila! A hub page. You now have a central location on your site that is the repository of All Things Buggy Bumper.
This is hard work, huh? You can’t just open up Roget’s and start hammering out pithy phrases. You’ve gotta actually learn something new for the first time since you realized your History major and Poli Sci minor (my college choices) won’t guarantee you the US Presidency.
It’s worth the effort. Copy is no longer just words – it’s interaction, too. Those cross references you used to write can now actually do something. Take advantage.
I just wrote an SEO Copywriting eBook, by the way. You can buy it for 5 bucks.
Ian Lurie is founder and CEO of Portent Inc., an internet marketing agency that has provided internet marketing, including PPC, SEO, social and analytics services, since 1995. Read More