Psychology of Link Building
Maybe this post should have been called the ‘Psychology of Link Clicking’
What I want to show you today is the possibility that the type of physical link you develop today how it is constructed, and where it is placed on your web page, might have an impact on whether it get’s clicked or not.
Just create a link and hoping someone will click on it may not be enough, there are psychological signals that may persuade someone to click your link.
The other aspect you need to consider is that not every link from a page is equal.
A search engine might look for a range of factors to determine the weighting of each link to pass along.
The psychological behavior of a person on a web page and the algorithm that Google may use could be inextricably linked.
If we look at one of the patents that have been granted to Google.
Ranking documents based on user behavior and/or feature data
Invented by Jeffrey A. Dean, Corin Anderson and Alexis Battle
Assigned to Google Inc.
United States Patent 7,716,225
Granted May 11, 2010
The abstract reads:
“A system generates a model based on feature data relating to different features of a link from a linking document to a linked document and user behavior data relating to navigational actions associated with the link. The system also assigns a rank to a document based on the model.”
So the search engine generates a model relating to different features of the link and also takes into account user behavior when generating that model.
In this model, not every link that appears on a page can be of equal value.
The differing features of a link, the pages they appear on, and the pages they point too, may determine the value being passed on to the pages which they link too.
So let’s look at some of those features in detail and how they may affect whether your link gets clicked or not.
1. The position of the Link on the Page
There are various places a link might be placed on a page;
Above or below the fold
Top, bottom, left or right of the document
In the footer
In the sidebar
The obvious choice is to place links above the fold on your website.
Placing links in the upper part of your content is probably a good start.
As long as the link has good anchor text and a relevant body of text surrounding it will add value.
Being in the upper part of the article content makes sense as when your page is crawled by the search engines it is usually from top to bottom.
Having links throughout your content can also add value.
As long as the link is relevant to the meaning of the text it can still be powerful no matter which part of your article it appears in.
Probably the least effective place for a link is in the footer. In most cases, you will see links to webmasters placed in the footer.
Google knows that the most common places to find links is in the sidebar and footer of your site, so usually devalues these as they might not give real value to the end user.
Also, don’t forget when we are talking about links to include your own internal links.
Aspects Of Anchor Text
Let’s start off with the font itself. There has been a lot written about the impact of type and size of the font on user engagement.
As anchor text is part of your document there is no reason why the same concepts can’t be applied.
One of the common questions around font size is the impact it might have on SEO.
Since H1, H2 and H3 are considered part of the SEO to do list they do not impact on SEO.
The same can be said if you set your font from 10 – 14 on any font doesn’t make a difference.
However, the difference does come in relation to the user experience.
It is important to set the right size font in your overall document.
When it comes to anchor text it should do two things clearly.
One is to clearly distinguish the link from normal text.
Secondly, it should have a clear hover effect so users know when they hover over it that a click will activate an action.
The traditional default link building has been done using the blue text with underline.
You don’t have to stick to this protocol, in fact, there is a move to create colored links to match the website colors.
When considering the user interaction the first element of styling is the color of the link.
You should ensure that any color used is in contrast to the rest of the body text.
You can also play around with the underline and test which display is more clickable.
Bold or Not,Size & Style
It makes sense to bold up your links to aid them standing out from the rest of the page.
It is also worth increasing the font size by two to three. Just be careful also where you have many links on a page it doesn’t become too jumbled.
Some other styles you may consider are using italics and extra padding around the link itself.
Finally what about the hover?
The hover effect is the effect that happens when the mouse moves over the top of the link.
This can involve changing color, changing shape or the mouse pointer changing to a hand.
A change in color can work well as it highlights and creates an interruption to normal reading flow.
It is generally not a good idea to make the hover change the shape of the text or change size and padding.
How Features Might Influence Link Action.
If we determine a model of interaction based on the above factors we can start to determine the look, feel and position of our links.
As an example, a link with anchor text that is bigger than the surrounding text may have a higher probability of being selected.
Links that are positioned closer to the top of a page may also be more likely to be clicked.
If the content of the document being pointed to is related to the content of the page the link appears on, this might increase its probability of being clicked.
So we could also propose that the value of a link may be different based on the factors above in the eye of the of the search engines.
We might also conclude that the links on a page most likely to be clicked by the user are those links that carry the most weight in terms of page rank.
So we have looked at the link structures themselves let us now turn to your content.
We covered some of this in a previous post (Blogger Outreach) but to get someone to take action with your content there are various aspects of within the content you need to include.
Firstly, you might need to tell your prospective link partner why your content is great.
Don’t be afraid to spell it out to them and big your content up.
Secondly, tell them why they should take notice and cover your content and make it explicit where they should link too.
Thirdly, tell them why they should link to your content.
You make feel slightly uncomfortable with this as it may come across as over confident and slightly bragging.
At the end of the day, others like to feel that they are dealing with an authority and worth taking notice of.
Social Identity Theory.
With the advent of social media and the way people now interact in the world and on the internet today, social identity theory has something to offer when considering your website visitor interaction.
Social identity is a person’s sense of self-based on their group memberships.
People are more likely to behave positively to others who are the same or of the same groups.
So going back to link building and using outreach as a strategy ensure that the people you contact have similar interests to your website, are members of similar facebook, twitter, Quora or Redditt groups.
Ensure you contact a wide range of people with similar interest to gain interaction with your website and links within it.
To conclude then when building links consider the psychology behind them and the interaction patterns of your possible site visitors.