Search Engine Optimization Tip #12: Text Surrounding Links

This is search engine optimization tip number twelve in our continuing series of tips from search engine optimization company Vizion Interactive. All of our search engine optimization tips are very specific, should not take a long time to fix (or to check to see if you are following the search engine optimization best practices), and will be rather “short and sweet” and directly to the point.

If you have not been following along with all of our search engine optimization tips, you might want to take a look at some of the previous SEO tips that we have already talked about. Our last search engine optimization tip, tip number 11, talked about using keywords in your heading tags. These are important because using a H1 tag will give more “weight” to the heading and the keyword phrase you’re targeting on that page. In the SEO tip before that, search engine optimization tip number ten, we talked about checking your links on your site to make sure you are not linking out to any bad neighborhoods or other sites that you do not wish to continue to link to. In SEO tip number nine, we talked about linking out to web sites. In search engine optimization tip number eight, we talked about Alt Tags and how you need to make sure that your keywords are in your Alt Tags and that they need to describe specifically what the image is and what someone will see when they look at it. Previously, before that, we talked about the anchor text of internal links. Then, before that, we talked about having keyword in your urls, linking to your home page, the meta keywords tag, the keywords on your web page, the meta description tag, and your web page’s title tag. All of these “search engine optimization tips” are things I look at when analyzing a site or optimizing it for the search engines. Keep in mind, though, that this is only the beginning. There are a lot more search engine optimization tips coming.

For search engine optimization tip number twelve, let’s talk about links again. We talked previously about the anchor text of your internal links. But, let’s talk a bit about the text surrounding your links. Even though you may have a link in the footer or even in the sidebar on another web site, the text that surrounds those links is important.

Let’s compare two examples. The first example is simply a list of my favorite search engine optimization web sites:

In the example above, you’ll notice that it is a list, just one link after another link. In fact, these could just as well be a list of paid links–but they’re not. They’re simply a list of search engine optimization or search engine-related links to other web sites. Before we talk any further about these links and how they’re displayed on this page, let’s take a look at the same exact list of links. But, let’s put them in a paragraph of text on the page instead:

Recently, was tasked by my boss, the big boss who works upstairs, with getting our web site to the top of the search engine results. So, I asked a friend of mine that I work with if they have ever heard of a web site called Search Engine Land. Apparently it is a site run by a famous search engine expert named Danny Sullivan. While looking around a bit more, I found that Danny Sullivan used to run another popular search engine marketing web site called Search Engine Watch, which is still popular amongst all the search engine marketing and search engine optimization experts, as well. There’s an interesting Search Engine Optimization Blog that posts a SEO Tip just about every day, and I have already learned a few good tips to fixing our corporate web site. I also set up a few Google Alerts so I can stay on top of the industry news at Search Engine Guide and Search Engine Journal, a site that has been around for quite some time now. Maybe I have spent too much time reading about search engine optimization and not applying the techniques?

The second example, above, is a paragraph that has the same exact links in it as the “list of links” that I presented in the first example. What’s my point here? The point is that the links, if presented in a paragraph format will most likely be given more weight by the search engines (mainly Google) than the same links as presented in a simple list. So, when seeking out new links to your web site, you’ll want to look for opportunities to get a link to your site that’s part of another site’s content–and not just a link in the sidebar navigation or in a footer of a web page.

Putting links within the content on your site (like in a paragraph) is important. There are many opportunities to include internal links within content, especially if it is on a corporate web site, or perhaps even in a press release that’s on your site (or on someone else’s site). For example, on a corporate web site, you could link to your company’s product pages when you mention them in press releases, on the “about us” page, or anywhere else you mention your products. If you distribute press releases with links to your product pages, there’s a good chance that those links will be given more weight.

In an ecommerce situation, you might consider adding a paragraph after each product description that talks about other similar products that would go with that product. For example, if you talk are selling a school desk online, you might include a paragraph that talks about the various options for chairs that would go well with the desk. You’ll want to include this as a paragraph that links to other product pages on your site, rather than just a list of other similar products.

By making sure that there’s text surrounding the links to your web pages and to your web site, there is a better chance that those links will not be ignored or be considered to be “paid links” that are given less weight or even ignored altogether.

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