rusty chain link from flickr skyfire124Ever since Andy Beal posted his SEOMoz Generates More Traffic Than Search Engine Watch? in early September, I have been meaning to write a post on what are the different factors involved in making a link click worthy.

Often when I write an article at Search Engine Watch, I link to the source with a one word link. For example, I may say that "Andy Beal [link]wrote[/link] about X, Y and Z." Those types of links often generate a lot less traffic than a link that may read as; "Andy Beal an outstanding must read post named [link]The Top 10 Business Mistakes Search Marketing Firms Make.[/link]"

But lets break out a bulleted list of characteristics of a "click worthy link":

  • Hyper link the article name
  • Use words like "must read"
  • Do not fully summarize the hyper-linked work
  • Instruct your readers to click through
  • Write a very short post with a link
  • Don't quote the source, tell people to just read it at the source

Now, if you compare my post with Rand's post you would think that my post is more "click worthy." Heck, I posted using the article name just like Rand did. Also, I have a second link to close off the article with a teaser link and a link, "remaining six mistakes can be read at Andy's blog." So what is up with that?

What are the external factors of a piece of content that would generate more or less clicks on a link?

The most obvious are the traffic levels of the respective sources. Now, I would be shocked if SEOMoz gets more traffic than SEW Blog. Maybe Rand had a spike in traffic? I don't think so. But Rand believes that since he wrote about this story the day prior, the SEOMoz readers who read SEW already saw the post and didn't need to click through. So timelines matters.

What else? Well, maybe the type of reader. Rand's SEOMoz is a much more community oriented crowd. When Rand posts something, he normally gets a lot of comments on his posts. SEW Blog doesn't allow comments directly on the blog. So when someone comments on a blog post, they typically are required to click through to the sources linked to in the post before commenting intelligently.

I honestly think is it the community difference for why Andy noticed more traffic from SEOMoz as compared to SEW for that particular post.

Matt Cutts gets a ton of traffic and has a ton of comments in his posts. He linked to this blog recently at his Review of Google Reader post, it is a deep link in his content. The link itself, did not drive as much traffic as a normal Matt posting would. It actually drove a fraction of traffic a typical Matt link would drive. Why, mainly for the reasons listed above. Matt linked to me without the title of the article in the hyperlinked text, he quoted me, and it is stuck in a huge review.

So next time I link to you, I hope to give you a "click worthy link" and I hope you do the same.