I’m Lazy, Do I Need To Give My Links A Title?

Here’s a question for all you linkbuilders.

The fact is that I don’t see much benefit to throwing in the title attribute to a link tag:
[a href=”http://performancing.com” title=”blogging, on the rocks”]Performancing, we chill bloggers off[/a]

What benefit is there to introducing the link title and why the hell is there a title for links anyway? Someone care to explain? Because I’m lazy, and I hate putting titles in my links.

On the other hand, I completely understand why you’d want to put alt attributes into your img tags. That makes a lot of sense. You’re basically tagging your images, telling the search engines what the image is about. But with links, isn’t your anchor text supposed to do that anyway?

8 thoughts on “I’m Lazy, Do I Need To Give My Links A Title?

  1. I’ve been experimenting with link titles on my music blog for a while now, but there’s absolutely no evidence to say that they have a benefit from a keyword point of view, as the anchor text usually covers this.

    From an accessibility point of view, if the anchor text is sufficiently descriptive, there’d be no need to provide a title as well.

  2. What I had in mind when I wrote those two (possibly lousy) examples was text like, say, wikipedia. Where link structure is meta-information and not information itself.

    Say you are writing a text about Jules Verne. You’d usually like to write in the fashion of plain text (as opposite to hypertext), but you’d like to punctuate relevant words with links, to expand you text. Yet you wouldn’t like to interrupt your normal text flow to explain links, that’s a good use for title.

    See, for exemple, the title I gave to the link above. I didn’t wanted to interrupt my paragraph with meta-information about the links, but the title clearly explains what this link is, in case you consider to follow it.

    That’s only my point of view, though, I really don’t know much about how much influence this has on SEO. I guess is more a usability principle.

  3. Isn’t the 2nd form always better for SEO purposes? Or is this just benificial to the linked site (not that I’d mind, just wondering)

  4. I guess the best way to describe how I see this is by analogy.

    If you write a post on your blog, it has a title, a link, the content, and, if you want to tease your readers, you’d like to add a little summary or description.

    If you want to tease people to follow the link and see the content there, you have to inform the link and it is a good idea to give a nice label. Additionaly you might like to add a title to tease the user or inform a little more detail and let him decide if that is where he wants to go.

    If you write
    “You can view details about this very useful feature”.

    A title would be very useful to have a glimpse of what you’ll see on the link, through the title.

    If you write
    “You can see the specification of the link attribute on the w3c site

    Maybe is not that necessary. IMHO, the first form is more elegant for a lot of situations including actual text to be read (as opposite to a menu, for instance), and I’d prefer it, even at the cost of including a title attribute.

    (Sorry for the silly paragraphs, is just what came to my mind)

  5. IMO, link titles have a minor, if any, effect on search engine rankings, so if that’s your only possible motivation, then don’t bother.

    But if you’re looking for usability, etc, then yea, titles are always good.

    There should be a WP plugin that asks you for the title (and inserts the anchor text as default) if it’s not entered.

  6. Rather than take up valuable real-estate in the comments, I went ahead and explained my own take on the subject in a bit of detail on my own blog here.

  7. The concept is that not everyone wants to a. visit every link and b. not everyone has a 100% percent sight.
    Do you want to exclude people relying on 3rd party software from deciding if they want to visit your link?

    Bloggers IMO, should together with everything around disclosure, also strive to make the web accessible to those who can’t see. And also show corpos in this way what can be better.

    Unless of course the only drive the money is. Then a blogger is nothing more than a focused entrepreneur.

  8. For some of my sites, I don’t usually bother.

    But if you go to Run to Win and hover over any of the links (and have javascript enabled) then you will get a better title information bar than most (I use the nicetitles script). On FireFox, there will even be some alpha-blending transparency.

    The idea behind titles is that you can provide additional information about a link. The way that I use it is that I always have my link text as something relevant in the context of what I am writing, and then the title tag is of the format “Site Name » Page Title” (although I sometimes add another raquo and put more info in there) – basically, it allows people to get information before clicking so that they can decide whether they want to or not. With nice titles on there, they will see the meta information I provided in the title tag as well as the link itself.

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