How good are your links?

I do my fair share of complaining about links, and I’m not alone in suggesting there are good links and there are bad ones.

I have, I’ll admit, done all four — from great to bad — but it’s important to learn the differences.

  • Great link — Include a publication and/or author name, important keywords and give your reader a reason to go there, instead of summarizing all the content.
  • Good link — At least two of the three stipulations above: author, keywords and reason fo your readers to go there.
  • OK link — Linked from a phrase of less than three word or one like “More,” “here” or “this.” Context can vary these from acceptable to crummy. If it’s for additional information (i.e. “My opinion on this matter. For more information, see here.”) or in addition to a previous, stronger link, it doesn’t much matter. If you’re trying to lessen the chance of a reader following the link or using another’s content to get clicks and offering a throwaway link to cover your tracks, that’s probably into the realm of a bad link.
  • Bad link — Maliciously linking on negative keywords or somehow obscuring the link. Yes, while I have fallen victim to it, hotlinking images is certainly a bad link — though I do sometimes (wrongly) justify it to myself if I am promoting the product or image host in my story or post.

Now, the better read and more powerful your site, the better your links are, but the general rules of link ethics remain the same, even though an OK link from a high-traffic site is probably just as influential as a great link from a site of middling traffic.

We still need to establish a common understanding for good linking practices.

What am I missing?