Link Trust: A Close Look at the Psychology of Linking

The types of links you use – both on and off your website – are a crucial part of your linking strategy. Most internet users are savvy enough to recognize ‘friendly' and ‘unfriendly' links. So it's important to offer links that inspire their trust.

Fortunately, you can create beautiful, trustworthy links that attract clicks with just a few tweaks to your current strategy. This can increase your Click-Through Rate (CTR), and also improve your website conversions and user engagement.

In this post, we’ll introduce link trust and explain why it matters. Then we'll share three ways you can improve link integrity, including using a dedicated linking tool such as Pretty Links. Let’s get started!

What Link Trust Is (And Why It Matters)

Whether you're a blogger or affiliate marketer, it's important that the links you use on your site appear credible to your visitors. This is why the concept of ‘link trust' is important. It means your audience trusts that you will only link to relevant, high-quality content, which is what they're looking for when they click on a link in the first place.

If your users are not confident that your links are credible, they will naturally hesitate to click on them. This, of course, will in turn cause your CTR and conversions to suffer. Your brand credibility can also be threatened, which can harm your website and your business as a whole.

This also applies to links you use off-site (such as on forums or in guest posts), as these are just as crucial to how internet users view your brand. As a representative of your website, it’s important to ensure that your links are trustworthy and high quality – no matter where you use them.

3 Ways to Improve Link Trust On and Off Your Website

Now that you understand the importance of link trust, it’s time to discuss how to use it to its fullest, both on and off your website. Let’s look at a few ways you can do just that.

1. Shorten Your Links to Make Them More Attractive

An example of a shortened link on Twitter

A shortened link often looks less ‘spammy' and more attractive to internet users.

Just as it sounds, a shortened link is a regular link that's been truncated, so that it appears more attractive and trustworthy. Since it's shorter and cleaner than a full URL, this type of link draws more attention to itself, improving your CTR in the process.

With Pretty Links, you can shorten your links in as little as a few minutes. This enables you to control how internet users view them, both on and off your website. Shortened links have the added benefit of appearing less ‘spammy’, which in turn makes them look more legitimate and trustworthy.

2. Use Descriptive Slugs to Provide Transparency

An optimized slug on Melyssa Griffin's blog

With a descriptive slug, you can entice internet users to click through to your content.

A pretty link is made up of various parts, one of which is called the ‘slug’. This is located at the end of the URL, and it’s commonly used to describe the contents of the page to which the link directs. Unfortunately, most slugs aren't optimized by default, which harms the link's effectiveness.

For example, a common slug may contain the date when the content was created, or a non-descriptive post name such as This doesn’t tell users any useful information. A better, more descriptive slug might be be

Creating descriptive slugs becomes easier with practice. To get you started, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep your slugs concise. Three to five words in length is usually sufficient.
  • Use industry keywords. These will help your content appear more readily on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), and also attracts the eyes of your target audience.

While descriptive slugs can be helpful for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), they should ultimately be created with your audience's needs in mind. Always consider: “What does this link tell the reader about the content it leads to?”

3. Brand Your Links to Improve Credibility

An example of a branded link on Twitter

A branded link ensures that users know they're clicking through to a trustworthy site.

Similar to a shortened link, a branded link is a ‘prettier’ version of a typical URL. As the name suggests, this type of link includes a mention of your brand, which is typically your website's title or business name. With branded links, you’re using the credibility you’ve already built, and extending it to links both on and off your site. This can make users more likely to click on the link, especially if your brand is well known.

By shortening your links with Pretty Links, you’re also automatically branding them. However, you can also reference a brand other than your current website by using vanity URLs. These URLs enable you to slightly alter your brand, and even shorten it further.


Links are a major part of internet use, but not all are created equal. In fact, your users may view some links as less ‘friendly’ than others, which can impact their CTR and your website traffic. This means your linking strategy is dependent on your link integrity.

In this post, we’ve introduced link trust and what it means for your website. We’ve also outlined three ways you can improve link integrity both on and off your website. For example, you can:

  1. Shorten your links to make them more attractive.
  2. Use descriptive slugs to provide transparency.
  3. Brand your links to improve credibility.

Do you have any questions about link trust and what it means for your website? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Categories: Pretty Links
About John Hughes

John is a blogging addict, WordPress fanatic, and staff writer.