7 Ways to SEO Optimize Links

7 Ways to SEO Optimize Links
Links indicate the relevance of a page to a page. And links are essential because they are among the top two ranking indicators in Google.

This article provides a summary of Google's recommendations regarding links, including "how to write anchor text in internal links," "what to consider when placing external links," and "how to deal with broken links."

1. Overall overview

Google recommends that links be created according to the following seven rules

  1. Anchor text should include keywords for the linked page
  2. Anchor text should be short and easy to understand
  3. Add "rel=ugc" to user-submitted links
  4. Add "rel=sponsored" for advertising links
  5. Link in-page links in the table of contents to h2 tags
  6. Design links to be recognizable as clickable
  7. Broken links return a 404 error or 301 redirect

2. Anchor text should include keywords for the linked page

1. Overview

Include keywords or related phrases that describe the linked page's content in the link string.

2. Use Anchor Text as the Name of the Linked Page

Google interprets the link text string as the "call name" of the linked page. 

If a page has many links with the same "name," Google considers that "name" well-established. 

As a result, the linked page will appear higher in the search results.

When you search for the keyword "exit," Yahoo appears because more than a decade ago, many sites linked to Yahoo with the anchor text "exit" more than a decade ago.

2. Include the keyword you want to target in the anchor text

The tag's text should include the keywords or related phrases of the linked page.


<a href=”https://…”>Sneakers Cheap Online Store「XXXXshoes」</a>
× <a href=”https://…”>XXXXshoes</a>

3. Anchor text should be short and easy to understand

1. Overview

Link strings should be short and focused on essential words and phrases.

2. Text does not recognize important keywords

Google recognizes "the main keywords that describe the linked page" from the anchor text. 

Short keywords are not misleading, but long strings containing many keywords increase the likelihood that keywords will be misidentified.

3. Use short text links

Remove low-priority keywords and focus the text on unique keywords.


<a href=”https://…”>
made with LA eggs「XXXXCastella」
× <a href=”https://…”>
made with a secret recipe by an artisan who has been baking with LA eggs for 30 years「Castella」

1. Overview

Do not give good ratings to unreliable external links.

2. Linking means that the linker has evaluated the linked page

You share the linked page's rating when you link to a page.

Suppose a site has a blog, bulletin board, etc., and a malicious user posts a link to a spam site. 

In that case, the site consequently contributes to the spam site's reputation. If the site is deemed complicit with the spam site, the linking site may be penalized.

3. Add "rel=ugc" attribute to ad links

When outputting URLs posted by ordinary users in a tag, add rel=ugc attribute.

<div class="user-comment">
   I highly recommend this product<br>
   <a rel="ugc" href="https://...">xxxxxx</a><br>

It is a standard feature in WordPress plugins, but please let your development engineers know if you are implementing your user review or comment functionality.

"Traditionally rel=nofollow attribute was used, but since rel=ugc attribute was introduced as the appropriate attribute starting in 2019, it is recommended to use rel=ugc attribute."

1. Overview

Ensure that the placement of ad links is not considered a violation of the guidelines.

2. Advertising links may violate guidelines

Google may consider links placed on the same page from numerous sites as spam and penalize the site where the link was placed. 

Ads may also be judged as "pages with spam links" because the links are placed on numerous sites.

3. Add "rel=sponsored" attribute to ad links

When describing an ad tag, add rel=sponsored attribute to a tag.

<div class="ads">
   <a rel="sponsored" href="https://...">xxxxxx</a>

"Traditionally rel=nofollow attribute was used, but since rel=sponsored attribute was introduced as the appropriate attribute starting in 2019, it is recommended to use rel=sponsored attribute."

1. Overview

In-page links in the table of contents should link to h2 tags.

2. Display internal links with site links

Suppose there is a collection of internal links corresponding to page headings, such as a table of contents. In that case, the site link may be displayed in search results.

A page is considered internally linked when enclosed in a nav tag, and the link in a tag points to an h2 tag.

3. Enclose the table of contents in a nav tag and use the link as a heading

The entire table of contents is enclosed in a nav tag, with an id attribute attached to the h2 tag, and an on-page link is set from a tag in the table of contents.



  <li><a href="#heading-1">What is SEO? </li>

  <li><a href="#heading-2">Service Features</li>

  <li><a href="#heading-3">Differences from Other Services</li>

  <li><a href="#heading-4">Fees</li>

  <li><a href="#heading-5">FAQ</li>

  <li><a href="#heading-6">Contact Us</li>




<h2 id="heading-1">What is SEO? </h2>

<h2 id="heading-2">Service Features</h2>

<h2 id="heading-3">Differences from other services</h2>

<h2 id="heading-4">Fees</h2>

<h2 id="heading-5">FAQ</h2>

<h2 id="heading-6">Contact Us</h2>

1. Overview

Design links to be recognizable as clickable.

2. Misleading links violate the guidelines

Installing unnatural links, such as links that assimilate with the background color or tiny links, violates the guidelines.

3. Make the links easy to understand

Design the link to be recognizable as a different section from the main text.


  • Design links in the style of buttons.
  • Use a different color for the link than for the main text.
  • Bold or underline links.
  • Add symbols such as ">".

1. Overview

When a page cannot be found, the server returns a 404 error.

2. Broken link pages are also crawled

Google periodically crawls all links. When it finds a broken link, it does not stop crawling but continues to try to find the page that has been restored or relocated.

Suppose a page cannot be found and redirects to the site TOP page. In that case, Google will not be able to identify the relationship to the link source correctly.

Also, if you use a 301 redirect to transfer from the old URL to the new URL, Google will take over the page rating to the unique URL.

3. 301 redirect to the relocated page or else return a 404 error

Depending on the cause of the broken link, either 301 redirect or return a 404 error.

Causes of Broken Links How to fix it
Page URL has changed Redirect to a new page with a 301 redirect.
Page has been deleted Return 404 error
The URL of the link source is incorrect. Return 404 error. Correct the URL of the link source.

When a page is not found, there is no problem with displaying an error page with a 404 error, but do not redirect to the TOP page or error page.

It is more efficient to check what links are installed on the site before proceeding.

Search Console > choose your property > Links > External links > Top linking sites

how to confirm links in google search console

10. Summary

It is best to consistently review the anchor text of internal links throughout the site, aware of each page's keywords.

To learn more about SEO, check out the post below.