What do links have to do with SEO?

Search engine crawlers move through sites via the links present on each webpage. Crawlers attach relevance based on how closely related pages are via links. This can cause the algorithm to hide these webpages from the top of our search results. Therefore, any link you attach to your webpage should be related to the content around it.

Pro Tip: Don't have a webpage full of links only. 

Pages with links only don't give crawlers any content to index, causing them to ignore those pages - rendering those links useless.

How to optimize your links:

  • Analyze the content present on each of your pages versus the links that appear on that page. Are the links related to the content present? If the links are not relevant, examine the purpose of the links on that page. Are they there for convenient browsing? Is there a way that could be accomplished without using non-relevant links? 
  • External Links vs. Internal Links
    • External links are links to URLs outside the atu.edu domain. Do the external links present on your site help your audiences accomplish what they came to your site to do? An example is a page about ATU-sponsored scholarships also containing links to other scholarships outside of ATU. Yes, it is nice to include those for your audiences, but it does not help your audiences accomplish their specific task of looking for ATU-specific scholarships. If the external links do not help your audiences accomplish the specific purposes of your site, it is acceptable to delete them.
    • Internal links are links to other pages within the atu.edu domain. Internal links help audiences browse related content on your site and accomplish the specific tasks they came to your site to do. Make sure you are linking your pages together in relevant ways. This concept makes up the basis of site navigation and is how search crawlers rank page relevance.
  • Don't have links that open in other windows
    • Search algorithms penalize links that open in new windows due to the prevalence of automatic popups in web advertising. It is best practice to avoid this setting when making links in OU Campus. See How to add or edit a link for more information about this setting.