Category: Research

Findings that can guide communication efforts.


Best Practices for Link Text

Links are important in online content. They help you connect people with the content they want. They are also an important component of search ranking. There is a strategy to creating the best link text in your content.

Research Identifies These 4 Qualities of Great Link Text

Recent research by Nielsen Norman Group indicates that to get the most clicks, write specific links that set sincere expectations, are substantial enough to stand alone, and are as succinct as possible.

As people scan your site, they look for links to get them to the information you want. Keep these four elements in mind to create links.

  • Specific: Make the link text specific, so the user knows exactly what they’ll get.
  • Sincere: Link text must set expectations that will be instantly met when the user clicks. When links set expectations that aren’t met, the user’s trust in the site and the organization it represents is reduced.
  • Substantial: Most users scan rather than read online. Links draw attention. The link text needs to give the user enough information to decide to click.
  • Succinct: Get to the point as quickly as possible, to increase the likelihood that users will quickly understand the link.

A link’s primary purpose is to communicate to users what they’ll find when they click. Vague or repetitive language fails that purpose. “Learn more” and “Click here” are not effective links.

SEO Considerations for Links

SEO is also a consideration when creating links. Search engines use links as a signal of content quality.

Be sure to create external links to high quality sites that supplement your content. This helps people get to the content they want, and also signals to search engines that your content is part of valuable content within a topic area.

Also create internal links within your website. Links from one page to another help connect your content. They also signal the most important pages at your site. Several links equate to high content value.

Both internal and external links should use keywords as link text. Keywords indicate what the linked content is about. This helps people and search crawlers understand your content focus and expertise.

Three Ways to Find the Right Keywords

Knowing your keywords is the core of ensuring you are visible online. Your content needs to align with the words and phrases being searched today so that people can find you and your services. It is important to find the right keywords for your marketing.

Start with Your Audience

Before you start researching for the right keywords, you need a deep understanding of your target audience. It’s never “everyone” or “all men”. Your target has more characteristics than that. Define them, list them. Understand your customer so well that you can start to visualize what they are doing at this very moment!

Now that you know your target audience, you can research the words and phrases they use when they are looking for what you offer. Here are three ways to do that research.

Use Your People

Listen to what your target audience is talking about, online and offline. What questions are they asking? What are hot topics or trends that have their attention? What words and phrases are they using?

You can gain this intel from face-to-face meetings, phone calls, and social media conversations.  Often you can glean what you need just from listening and reading. Sometimes it helps if you ask a specific question.

You want to use the words and terms they use, ask questions in the way they ask them, etc. Oftentimes, the keywords a business thinks they should rank for or talk about are not the terms their customers actually use.

Google Tools to Find the Right Keywords

Google offers many free tools to help you identify keywords. All are free.

Google TrendsGives you a to-the-minute inside look at Google’s databases of searches. You can look at Google searches by regions, categories, languages, and set the time and search properties (image, etc.). You can look at a single keyword or compare multiple terms. You can determine keywords in your industry or category.

Google Autocomplete: When you start to type in the search field at Google.com, the site offers suggested finishes. Autocomplete predictions are populated to reflect actual searches. Therefore, they are possible keywords.

Google Ads Keyword Planner: You need a Google account to use this tool. Enter a keyword and Google will populate search volume (how often it is used) and the competition for that word (how many people or businesses want to rank for that word).

Social Intel

Most social media channels have search and other tools that give you insights into conversations and posts, which provides excellent keyword insight. Pay most attention to the channels you know that your target audience uses.

What Action Can You Expect from Online Engagement?

Your company is likely on social media to connect with your audience and to get them to take beneficial action. But what is realistic to expect? Nielsen Norman Group has identified 6 types of interactions that users have with companies on social media.

They identified the following core interactions, illustrated in this image in order of frequency.

User interactions with businesses on social media

Make Your Social Content Meet These Needs

Discover: Can I find something interesting?

Brands that help people to connect with interesting information tap into the interest in discovery.

Research: What is this? How does it work for me? How could I use it?

People look for content that helps them understand the people, products and services they encounter. Information that goes beyond pitches and sales language to help with understanding is the most valued.

Engage: Am I interested in the content the company posts on social media?

When someone gets excited about a brand, they want a way to feel connected. Social content helps them to feel connected in an ongoing way. This content nurtures a sense of ongoing relationship and makes it easy to share with others.

Purchase: How can I buy it?

Every brand loves when people come to buy. Businesses benefit when they make the process clear and easy. This is probably the most desired action. Not that it is not the top motivation for users.

Support: Can you help me solve a problem?

Problems have a way of cropping up outside of business hours. Brands that have an effective online presence help users get answers 24/7. Online content should help solve common user problems.

Promote: How can I share my experience with others?

Sometimes users want to create their own content related to brands. An online presence on the platform they are using lets them connect with the brand more meaningfully than a text mention.