I'm going to tell you a little story and then I'm going to give you a quiz.
A few days ago, I posted a guest article by Lior called Increase your SEO Knowledge in 2011: Must Read Blogs. Lior sent me the post pasted into an email. I use Microsoft Entourage (a Mac mail program that is part of Office) for my email. In Entourage, the links Lior sent all looked like this:
This was a guest post written by Lior who is a marketing advisor to iAdvize, a live chat support software <http://www.iadvize.com/> company.
I changed all the links when I was formatting the article for the blog post. I changed the links to the various blogs Lior recommended to h3 headings with links to the blogs. And I changed the last line of the article, with the guest author credit and link, to read:
This guest post was written by Lior who is a marketing advisor to iAdvize, a live chat support software company.
I didn't give it much thought, I just made the site name the link as I had done with the blogs Lior recommended. Big oops.
Shortly after that, I heard from Lior, who didn't like what I had done with the link in the author credit line. Then it got a little crazy, because every time Lior sent the "correction" to me, Entourage showed it exactly like the example above, with no clickable link text and a URL in brackets. Finally, Lior sent me a PNG, showing exactly how it should be.
How did Lior want it? Like this.
This was a guest post written by Lior who is a marketing advisor to iAdvize, a live chat support software company.
Okay, thanks to the PNG image, (with no help from Entourage) I finally got it.
Now the quiz. Why was it so important to Lior to have live chat support software be the link and not the name iAdvize or not a URL in brackets with no link text?
I'm going to suggest three answers, any of which you may have thought of, and which may have been the reasoning behind Lior's patient attempts to get me to do it a certain way.
Being an accessibility person, my first suggested answer is about accessibility. The link text live chat support software is the most descriptive about what to expect when the link is clicked. AT devices can be set to skip from link to link, reading only the link text until the user finds the link to click. Think about how much more information Lior's choice of link text gives a user than either iAdvize or a URL to iadvize.com. A link like iAdvize could be to all sorts of advice sites from financial advice to party planning. The words Lior chose tell the user exactly where a click will take them.
As an accessibility aside, it's not helpful when every link says click here. Nothing descriptive at all about that link text. In some situations, it can be a compelling call to action, but it needs a title attribute (plus alt text if it's an image) that provide more descriptive information about the link destination.
Back to the quiz. Another possible answer involves search engine optimization. Search engines take a close look at link text. Good link text adds to your search engine ranking. It provides indexable information about where a link is going. That's important to you in terms of links to posts on your own site. Links to your own internal pages or articles help the search engines find what's on your site, and the text used for internal links makes a difference in how the information is understood.
Guest posters want credit, because it helps bring traffic and quality links to their own sites. Lior took time and effort to write the guest post and wanted to make it count with incoming link text that would improve search engine rank. Anyone needing chat support software will search on chat support software, and not on a word like iadvize. It can't hurt to have incoming links with the words chat support software floating around the web when someone asks a search engine where to find chat support software.
Finally, there's the usability answer. Good link text also improves usability. Clarity in link text removes confusion or ambiguity and makes the site more useful.
Was your quiz answer the same as any of mine? Or did you think of something else? How else could you answer my question?
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