I’ve dreamed of teaching a class or workshop on nothing but links. Web links fascinate me. They are the connective tissue of the web, the glue that binds us all together in the virtual space, an economy in and of themselves, and links can save lives, they are that powerful.
In Lorelle’s WordPress School free online course I’m going to talk about links and all the ways to link within WordPress over the next few months. I have so much to say about links, I don’t want to overwhelm you, so let’s take this slowly.
In WordPress School: Addresses and URLs I talked about some of the various ways that WordPress generates links. In this assignment, we’re going to learn the very basics of how to make links in WordPress content.
What is a Link?
A link, also known as a hyperlink or hypertext link, is clickable text or objects that direct the browser to a web location or action.
The format of a link in HTML is:
<a href="http://example.com/" title="Example Site Title Here.">Link Anchor Text</a>
The Anchor HTML Tag breaks down with these selectors, often called attributes.
a– Anchor HTML Tag
href– Hyperlink reference, the link destination, typically a web page address
title– Link description, per US laws, is written as a short sentence or title describing the destination of the link
anchor text– The anchor text is the content visible to the user. The anchor text may be text or a image.
The link HTML tag (anchor) wraps around whatever is to be linked or clicked.
By using the title in the Link HTML, you are not only complying with web accessibility, when the mouse is hovered over the link, a balloon tip with text appears near the mouse cursor with the title displayed, helping the reader to know where the destination of the link will take them.
How to Make a Link in WordPress
To make a link in a WordPress post or Page, the sequence is the same for both the text and visual editors.
- Type the words you wish to be in the link or anchor text
- Select the words
- Click the Link words or symbol in the toolbar
- Enter the following in the popup menu:
- URL: The address of the web page, website, or file you are linking to
- Title: Enter the required title of the link destination in a short description such as the title of the article, name of the website, or something that tells the visitor where and what this link is
- Open link in a new window/tab: DO NOT USE THIS. If you must, you are required by international laws to inform the visitor by adding (opens in new window or tab) within the anchor text to warn them.
- Click Add Link to embed the link within your content.
WordPress.com users have the ability to link to content on their site through the Link to Existing Content feature. Simply type in search words to find the post or Page and select it to create the link.
What You Must Know About Links and Linking
In “The Power of the Link” from 2005 I wrote the following:
The power you have over outgoing links is bigger than this. By linking to a blog or site, you are saying this site and page is worth reading. You are also recommending others link to that same post…
This value is a one way street. Do not expect that just because you link to a site or blog that they have any responsibility to link back to you. They don’t. You are only saying that they have said or shown you something of value you want to share with others. However, if the blog or site owner pays attention to their site statistics and referrals, especially if they are getting a lot of visitors from one particular link, they will often come visiting to see what you wrote about them to encourage your readers to leave your site to visit them. If they find value, the odds are likely that they may link back to you when they write something pertaining to your site’s topics…
Next time you create an external link on your site, think about the power it has to:
- Encourage others to leave your site to visit another
- Attract attention to your site and others
- Give energy to the process of that site moving up in the search engine page ranks
- Encouraging others to link to the same site or blog
Seriously, be inspired with your linking. Links have great power to influence, direct, and guide your readers.
Another no-no on is publishing link dumps. Link dumps are a lazy person’s way of linking, simply dumping a link into the content. https://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/04/10/what-do-you-do-when-someone-steals-your-content/ Link dumps interfere with the readability of the content, and they are just ugly.
WordPress does its best to convert these into clickable links but often fails, leaving the reader with a link to a page not found when the link breaks. Take care and make your links readable by putting them in properly formed HTML links.
I will be covering links more as we go forward but here are some basic tips to get you started.
- The anchor text may be different from the link title: In this example, I’m creating a link to an article about how links impact lives and the title inside of the link HTML is “The Power of the Link – Lorelle on WordPress,” words different from the anchor text. The two do not need to match, but the reader needs to know that the link’s destination matches its intentions.
- Do not bold, underline, or force styles upon links: Links are styled by the WordPress Theme. Don’t like the look of them, you may modify them through the stylesheet not through the formatting options. It adds work and causes problems when you change Themes. If a link is naturally found within bold or italic text, it is fine. Never underline anything on a website, including links. Let the WordPress Theme do the hard work.
- Keep links short and specific: The art of choosing the words for the anchor text is a skill. In general, keep links to one to four words for a phrase. Don’t link an entire paragraph or full run-on sentence. It makes it harder to read. Choose words that would make you want to click the link.
- Do not use click here: Another web accessibility issue is to not use the words “click here” for your links. We’ve found that the use of “click here” tends to make the reader feel rather stupid, like they wouldn’t recognize a link when they see one. Incorporate the link into the sentence as part of the natural flow of reading. If you must point out that this is a link, be inventive.
- Don’t put links in headings: Headings are generally styled rather dramatically from the rest of your content, and putting a link in the heading often doesn’t make the link stand out to the reader. Put links within the content so the link will contrast within the article.
- Call-to-action links around images: I will cover call-to-action badge and button images late, but do know that if you wish to direct someone to a web destination visually, you may wrap a link around an image.
- Do not force a link to open in a new window or tab: According to international laws for web standards, you are not permitted to force a link to open in a new tab or window without express instructions that it will open that way. Yes, WordPress offers this option, and I wish they’d remove it. It doesn’t mean you have to use it, but if you do, use it right. In 20+ years of doing this, I’ve only used this feature when writing a tutorial that required the other web pages to be open as part of the lesson. We know how to use the back button and find you if we lose you. If you are worth finding, we’ll be back, don’t worry.
For more information on links see:
- What is a Properly Formed Link? – Lorelle Teaches
- Links and the Anchor HTML Tag – Lorelle Teaches
- How to create a Link in the WordPress Visual Editor – ClarkWP
- How to Link to Posts, Pages, Categories, Tags, Authors, and Feeds in WordPress – Lorelle Teaches
- How to Link to a Post, Page, Category, Tag, and Author in WordPress – ClarkWP
- Copyright: How to Quote and Cite Sources
- The Power of the Link – Lorelle on WordPress
- Changing a Life With a Link – The Blog Herald
Your assignment is to start adding links.
What should you link to? In the fourth and fifth articles in the series you will be making many links to resources, citations, and reference material. In the first and second articles, consider linking to definitions of words, phrases, and resources that help the reader understand better what you are talking about. You don’t have to explain the links, just incorporate them naturally into the content.
Stay tuned for more about links in future assignments.
This is a tutorial from Lorelle’s WordPress School. For more information, and to join this free, year-long, online WordPress School, see:
- Lorelle’s WordPress School Introduction
- Lorelle’s WordPress School Description
- WordPress School Tutorials List
- WordPress School Google+ Community
- WordPress Publishing Checklist
- How to Give Feedback and Criticism