Think Before You Link

Ah, the perils of overuse.

Much like a joke is less funny the third of fourth time around, so too are online gimmicks designed to sexy up your copy. Perhaps the worst offender here is the overuse of keywords, but we’ll save that for another today. For now, let’s content ourselves with examining hyperlinks, and how to avoid destroying a good tool with overkill.

The idea behind the link is to leverage your post as much as possible by attaching it to both in-house and external support sites. If you’re doing a piece on how to make the best pie crust ever, you might choose a word or two and link them to a well-known cook’s site, or a recipe within that site.

Conversely, if your own site is all about the kitchen, you may link to other pages within the site that contain tips, recipes and the like. This is an outstanding way to repurpose content that may be a bit stale, but still has plenty of value. More to the point, it keeps the reader active, engaged — and on your site.

So if they’re so nifty, then why are links being disparaged, you ask? What often happens is that the poster will become a little unglued, and whole paragraphs of copy are riddled with highlighted, underscored words. You can’t move your cursor over the copy for fear of cannoning off the page and onto another site. And when that happens, two things are likely: One, the reader will give up and jump back off the page, or two, he or she will stay on that linked website and never return to yours.

As with layout and design, artwork and the copy itself, links should boost your traffic. They should highlight a different facet of what you’re saying and demonstrate your ability to research and pull disparate elements together for a more comprehensive whole. That should be the approach for both external and internal links. Used properly, they can enhance the reader’s experience and will likely prompt a return visit.