Ah the old hyperlink. One of the most basic and fundamental aspects of web design and crucial to the whole infrastructure of the internet. It's a critical system for sharing information and for navigating our way around the plethora of sites on offer, and it's the foundation of things like Google search (and so SEO) and of PPC Marketing.
The link hasn't changed all that much in the days since the birth of the web, but what has changed is the way we use it and our views of it and sometimes this can even get quite controversial. So let's look at some linking dos and linking don'ts to help you navigate your use of hyperlinks to the betterment of your blog, website or online business.
Do: Link Out to People
It's a common SEO myth that linking out to other sites is a bad strategy. The concern here is that by linking outwards you are giving away free 'link juice' that will damage your ranking, but in reality this isn't really founded on much. The guys at Google are smart, and they know that you should be able to link to sites that are legitimately useful to help your visitors without getting penalised so don't worry about that. At the same time though, by linking to another site you can get your site noticed by other webmasters and you can develop relationships and associate yourself with other successful sites and blogs. The pros here far outweigh the potential cons.
Don't: Use 'NoFollow'
The web is about sharing and it's about helping each other. Use a 'NoFollow' and you'll look petty to your visitors and to the sites you link to. As mentioned, you shouldn't put too much stock in that 'link juice' malarkey - so just do a good thing.
Don't: Leave the Default Colour Settings
There are few things that make a site look as dated and ugly as leaving the default settings on your links. In other words if you have blue links that go purple once they're visited and use the default font then your site will look like it was developed by a teenager in 2001.
Do: Make Your Links Big and Beautiful
The way we interact with the web has changed and particularly in the commercial sector. Many people who visit your sites today will interact with them not with a mouse, but instead with a finger on a touchscreen and this is set only to continue. Make people want to click your links then by making them into big buttons with bright colours and high contrast.
Do: Link Internally
Linking between your pages will not only reduce your bounce rate and keep people on your site longer, but it will also help Google to index your site. If you have an article on bicep curls for instance then, make sure that every time you mention bicep curls on any other page that you link back to that site. You can even do this by using a 'find and replace' tool with a software package like Dreamweaver.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, the humble link hasn't changed much in the years since its creation, so why not mix things up a bit by having your links preview themselves in a small iFrame on your site? Or by linking to a redirect address first so that you can capture more information or provide a more personalized experience.