You already know that hyperlinks and call-to-action links are an important part of the content strategy formula. But it’s not enough to simply insert as many as you can, with the hopes of scoring SEO points and potentially overwhelming people reading your content. A linking strategy should define where you place them, which words you hyperlink and which pages you link to.

Why are Hyperlinks Important?

Let’s pretend you’re not a marketing manager, but the owner of a small shop that relies on street traffic. Your first priority is getting shoppers in the door. (You could compare your window display and signage to the type of SEO work we do to attract organic traffic to your site.)

Once inside, you want them to explore past the first rack, to browse your shelves, examine items of interest and even step into a dressing room. Your ultimate goal – your call to action – is for them to make a purchase.

In this hypothetical store, the details matter: how you arrange your shelves, where top-selling merchandise goes and where you post eye-catching ‘clearance’ signs.

Web content works the same way. Strategic linking assures users don’t stop at the front door (your homepage). Instead, they click further into your site, visiting multiple pages to browse, and interacting with your content (sign up for newsletters, request an appointment, follow you on social media, etc.)

One of the key ways we can facilitate this user journey is how we utilize hyperlinks.

Hyperlink vs. Call to Action Link

There are two ways to include links in your content. Both have a place, but there are key differences:

  • A hyperlink is more passive: Waltham-based Charles River Interactive is a full-service digital marketing firm.
  • The call to action link – or CTA – invites the user to take action and keep reading: Waltham-based CRI is a full-service digital marketing firm. Learn more about Charles River Interactive.

Which strategy do you think would get more clicks?

With a passive hyperlink, the link to the company website is there as a ‘soft sell,’ much like the end cap in your store. If this sentence appeared in the content at a place where you definitely want interested users to visit this page, you want to use a call to action link instead.

Web Writing Best Practices for Hyperlinks

  • Formatting: It may sound like common sense, but make sure your links appear with unique formatting: a different color is typical, but you may also bold or underline linked text.
  • Internal vs. external links: Use links that take users away from your site as little as possible. Why send away your traffic? If it’s necessary, make sure these links open in a new tab.
  • Never, ever say ‘click here’: Make it your golden rule. Yes, the goal of a call to action link is to encourage the user to take action. But think about it as being helpful, not demanding. Phrases like ‘Read more about …’ or ‘Learn more about …” let the user feel like they have more control, and as a result, they are more effective.
  • Anticipate action: Web users hate surprises – especially when pages and files pop open unexpectedly. Don’t risk visitors closing out your site. Just be courteous and help them understand what happens if they click a link: ‘Download our information packet’ or ‘Watch our how-to video’ tells the user that a file will open and a video clip is about to play.
  • Match pages with links: The hyperlinked text should match the page title – or H1 – of the page to which you are linking. Don’t just link random text and expect users to know where it goes; they are unlikely to take that leap of faith, and may be confused when they arrive there.
  • Put a CTA on every page: Don’t get stuck with a ‘dead-end page’ that leaves users with nowhere to go. Every single page on your site should include a call to action link, and be rich with hyperlinks. This even includes your 404 redirect page. Remember: When you stop giving users something to do, they stop interacting with your site.

Interested in learning more about content development? Read more from our blog, View from the Charles:

5 Tips for Writing for Mobile
10 Tips for Effective Content Marketing on Twitter