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Proper External Linking Tips from Google

In a recent video with Google’s head of search engine spam, Matt Cutts, he started off talking about the importance of links in white hat SEO, but seemed to go off on a little bit of a tangent about proper linking.  The video explains that when using other people’s information there should be a link back to the original source.  This does not mean that it is acceptable to plagiarize other people’s sites as long as there is a link, but when writing about other content or in response to it, a link is necessary.

While it is essential for proper credit to be given, Google doesn’t punish or reward publishers based on where the link appears in the article.  Some people, Cutts recognizes, provide all links to sites which were referenced at the end of the article.  Others include them when they were first mentioned as textual links.  These are acceptable choices, as long as it is clear what the link is to and why it is being included.

Cutts goes on to give tips as to how he would like to see people doing their linking, though he was careful to note that this was just his personal preference and won’t have any impact on site rankings.  He believes it is better to make it as easy as possible for readers to find the source material used for the content they are writing.  With that in mind he would rather see contextual links, properly used.  If, for example, a study is being cited for a particular article, the author might link to the study by hyperlinking the word “STUDY”.

In addition, he commented on the fact that some people will give full credit to the source of the article, without creating a clickable link.  This, he believes, while technically acceptable is not the right way of doing things.  It is all part of focusing on the overall user experience rather than what many people believe to be the best SEO practices.

Cutts said, “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.”  While this might not have any impact on your overall rankings, it is just the right thing to do.

While Matt was careful to say that these were personal preferences, and had nothing to do with how Google is ranking sites, it is still sound advice.  In addition, the way Google has been making changes with a strong focus on user experience, it is hard to be too sure that Cutts’ ‘personal preferences’ today won’t be the official requirement from Google sometime down the road.

Personally I’ve always simply included all links to external videos, studies or other information at the end of the post because I’ve felt that was the easiest way to ensure the links are simple to find.  I will have to re-think my methods and decide whether I want to follow the advice of Matt Cutts, or keep posting links at the end.  What are your thoughts?  What do you prefer, links in the text or at the end of a post?

Oh, and before I forget.  You can see the full video of Matt Cutts HERE.

Pesach Lattin
Pesach Lattinhttp://www.adotat.com
Pesach "Pace" Lattin is one of the top experts in interactive advertising, affiliate marketing. Pesach Lattin is known for his dedication to ethics in marketing, and focus on compliance and fraud in the industry, and has written numerous articles for publications from MediaPost, ClickZ, ADOTAS and his own blogs.

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