Linking between your posts and pages or even linking to stories on other websites can be a great way to add valuable, relevant navigation for visitors and boost your search engine visibility at the same time. The more internal links that you have that point to relevant content the better. And by offering more related content links to visitors, chances are that they’ll discover more of the great content on your website. This assumes that you do have great content; if you don’t, you’ve got more to worry about than how to make links. Fortunately, adding links (or more properly hyperlinks) to post and page elements is very easy using WordPress.

A word about external links

People often ask me if it’s okay to include links to other websites, and the answer I usually give them is “sometimes.” Although you don’t really want visitors waltzing off to other sites, sometimes the value of guiding your visitors to great content is worth their departure if you consider the trust that you build from your selfless act. People will generally return to a site that they trust as a resource, so you could really consider this as being “resourceful.”

But enough with the bad puns and on to our basic tutorial about linking.

Step 1: Get the link

First, you need to get the URL or web address of the page to which you will post a link. The most obvious way to do this is to go to the page and simply copy the URL from the browser bar. Highlight the string of characters beginning with “http://” and be sure that you’ve included the entire URL. In our example, the link we’ve grabbed is the address of a post on AIM’s IGNN site about a prediction for “frog rain” following a video game tradeshow. (IGNN is a silly site that I created and which helps me convince myself that I’m still young.) Anyway, let’s just say the article is worth linking to because it has a really nice picture of a frog. If you’re linking to a page or post on your own website, however, there’s an even easier way to get the link you want and it’s built into the WordPress link tool, which we’ll explore in a moment.

Step 2: Make an SEO-smart text anchor

The most important step in the link-building process is deciding what your link should say. Don’t just highlight the first bit of copy that seems relevant. Instead, you need to craft your link as if it were a treasure map. Why? The hyperlink words are called the “text anchor” and you need to pick them carefully because Google places quite a bit of emphasis on them. Ideally, the text anchor should describe the content that you’re linking to, and part of that description should be a keyword for that content. Think of it as a sort of signpost. If you go old-school and make a link out of words such as “click here” it conveys nothing about the content to which you’re offering a link. But if you see a link with a text anchor that reads, “check out the cute frog” you have a very good idea of what awaits you. Who could resist a link like that?

Step 3: Use the link chain tool

Now it’s time to make that link. Go to the page or post editor where you wish to place the link, highlight the text in your post by dragging the cursor over the word(s) you want to be the text anchor. Next, click the “link” (Insert/edit link) button in the toolbar of the visual editor (it looks like a little chain link…clever, huh?). A dialogue box will open up that looks like this example picture. You have two methods for placing the URL in the link. At the top of the Insert/edit link dialogue box, you’ll see the invitation to: “Enter the destination URL”. Beneath that is a field already prepopulated with the http:// prefix (in case you forgot to copy that). You can paste your pre-grabbed link right there. Once the link’s in place, be sure to add title text, which is the little pop-up text that appears when someone hovers their cursor over the hyperlink. If you’re making an external link, you’ll have to use this method for adding URLs and titles, but if you’re linking to internal content, check out Step 4 below. It rocks.

Step 4: Or link to existing content

WordPress now has a very nifty tool for selecting existing content on your site by selecting a title from a list. You can scroll down the list and click on the title of the post or page you want to link to, or you can use the “search” field and let your website do all the tedious searching. Once you choose a page or post, the URL will appear above in the URL field and the title of the content will appear as the text title element. You can edit the title if you wish.

Step 5: Set your target

The target element allows you to specify if the linked-to content will open in the same browser window or in a new tab. When linking to another page on your site, you would generally open the page in the same browser window, while linking to an external site you might want to choose the “Open link in new window/tab” option. In this way, your visitor can easily navigate back to your site after checking the source material.

Step 6: Making an image link.

Creating a link from an image in your post is just as easy as making a text link. Instead of highlighting text, just click on the image to select it. Now follow the steps to add the link URL, target and title.

That’s it, folks. Now you’re blogging with power.