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Do You Care More About SEO or UX?

h1 tags aha mediaI know one of the most pressing issues on your mind is how your customers find your content. That’s because we field hundreds of questions every year about strategic SEO and writing for organic search. But… are you also thinking about what happens when users start engaging with your pages? If people find your content, but are confused once they read and interact with it, what’s the point?We find this very often with the questions we receive about our linking style: Does how we write our links impact our SEO? Well, let’s find out.

Links Matter for the User (Who is Kinda Super Important)

When we write content, we make sure the underlined words of the link (or the tag) are over the same words that the user will find when they jump to the page. For example, if the page title (or the H1 tag) is “Diabetes Education,” we don’t write the link as “Type 2 Diabetes.”  Instead, the link reads as, “Learn more about diabetes education.”  This is important for your customers, because as they follow the link, they land on the page they expected to see. A critical principle in user experience is telling a user where they are on a site and where a click will take them next.

Understanding Exact Match Linking

When I teach digital writing workshops, I used to teach that this concept, called Exact Match, was incredibly important for SEO.  And back in the day, it was; particularly if you used keywords in your page titles (you should still do that). But like so many other things in SEO, Google found that webmasters were abusing Exact Match for external links.  So they discontinued using this factor in their ranking algorithm.

However, from an internal perspective, this is the absolute right way to write links on your web pages. Think about it from the perspective of your customer: That person wants to know what’s on the other side of the jump, especially in a mobile situation. Writing links in this manner creates clean and easy to read content—something we know Google prefers. When you jump people using nicely flowing call-to-action links, you make it crystal clear where the user is headed.

Exceptions for Usability 

Sometimes it may not make sense to use the page title of the page you are referring users to because it’s too long and unwieldy—like the name of a blog title.  In those cases, I think it’s okay to depart from this style—but do use some words that are going to make sense to the person reading, so they can decide if they want to follow the link.

You can learn more about how to create findable, readable, understandable, actionable and shareable content by inviting us to teach a digital writing workshop at your company. The workshops are personalized, using your content as examples. Check out our digital writing workshops.               

About Ahava Leibtag

Ahava Leibtag, MA

Ahava R. Leibtag has more than 15 years of experience in writing, messaging and marketing. She is a well-recognized content expert and writes thought leadership about content strategy and content marketing. Ahava is the President and owner of Aha Media Group, a content strategy and content marketing consultancy founded in October 2005. She... More >