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Linking: It’s Reader Friendly

October 17, 2011 1 comment

Linking is something that most, if not all websites use. Links are reader friendly because by one click of your mouse you can be sent to another website and find further information of what you’re looking for, as well as different forms of multimedia such as videos or pictures.

3 Different Forms of Linking

There’s 3 types of links that I would like to discuss. Permalinks, main story links and sidebar links. All of them are important but have different functions.

  • Permalinks – Normally a link will take you directly to the top of the page of the web address, but a permalink will take you right to the specific blog post. The link will always direct you to the exact part of the web page that you the user is looking for, and it will never change no matter what is posted on the page, hence the name permalink (it’s permanent!)
  • Main Story Links – This kind of link is often used in a story, report, paper, etc. It’s best used when further information of a certain topic is needed. For instance, if you were to post a blog on the history of the Minnesota Vikings, you would first want to find a credible site, such as ESPN.com or NFL.com, and then find the exact webpage that has the facts to help your story. Then you would want to link the page directly into the text of your blog by underlining a key word or phrase (no more than 3 to 5 words) and then that would give the reader more information on the topic. The link I used for this (the Minnesota Vikings) is a perfect example of how to properly use a main story link.
  • Sidebar Links– This kind of link is very helpful when additional information that relates to the main story is needed. The term sidebar link is pretty self-explanatory, whereas the links will generally be off to the side. Unlike main story links where the link itself has to be incorporated into the story, sidebar links can be more sufficient in telling what it is. Let’s examine the example of the Minnesota Vikings history blog again. If you wanted to post additional information, like an article about why the Vikings haven’t won a Superbowl, you could use this type of link. A good example of this would be, “Top 10 Reasons Why the Minnesota Vikings Haven’t Won a Superbowl,” and the text would obviously be underlined and colored to inform the reader that it’s a link, and then from there it would take you to your Top 1o List.

In summary you should only use links that you would approve of and that the reader wouldn’t find offensive. Linking to illegal sites is wrong and can tarnish your credibility as a whole, thus ruining your reputation and diminishing your viewers and subscribers. Links should either help support certain topics in your blog or help clarifying and acknowledging something that has importance in your blog.

The Opportunities and Dangers That These Links Provide

Each of the links previously described can be very beneficial to your website or blog. Readers like links because they’re a quick and easy way to explore other information. But you have to be careful when linking because there’s also a negative side to it if links aren’t used properly.

Permalinks are nice because they save you time. If you’re looking for one blog post in particular, the permalink will direct you to the right web address instantly. The reader doesn’t have to go through the hassle of searching the site for the right page. But by using a permalink you’re giving the reader the opportunity to skip right to that page, so he or she is not aware of what else your web site has to offer. So it’s a good idea to also provide the homepage so the reader is encouraged to view the web site as a whole as well.

Main Story Links are helpful because they can give the story an extra boost. You are able to look at the story further when a Main Story Link is used effectively. On the other hand it can be difficult at times to use this type of link. A story should have good informative content that flows well together, and when you want to add a link that clearly states its purpose while not disrupting the overall flow of the story, it can be a challenge. You also want to keep in mind that giving a link in a story informs the reader that what you’re suggesting is important to the context of the story, so you should make sure that were you’re sending the reader is a site that works, has a sense of credibility, has quality information, supports what you’re saying and isn’t bias.

Sidebar Links are great because you have the ability to be much more flexible, meaning you can place your preferred links anywhere on your page and you don’t have to worry about placing and fitting the link somewhere in your story. The title of these links can be much more direct and to the point. This is also good for the reader because at any point he or she can move on to something else that’s relative to the story and then come back when the main story when they want. The link should reveal what information will be presented, and it should “tease” or “sell” to the reader so that they want to click on it. If you fail to word the link properly then that will in most cases hurt the amount of views that the link receives, and ultimately hurt your sites reputation in the long run.

Final Thoughts: Suggestions on Being a Productive Linker

All in all when it comes down to it the best piece of advice I can give is be smart and work hard. I realize it’s easier said than done but you need to put forth the necessary amount of effort if you want you web page or blog to prosper. Do what it takes to find the right links and then place them or word them in ways that make them appealing to the reader. There’s three things that you should always consider when linking. Is it informative? Is the content of what your sharing informative to the reader. If not then you need to re-evaluate what you’re doing. Is it legal? Almost all sites can be linked without any problems, as long as you’re not taking credit or implying that you created the content. And finally, is it ethical? The link should be professional, not bias and it shouldn’t be immoral. Afterall the links, wether or not you agree with them, are a reflection of yourself, so be careful. The last thing you want to do is make yourself or your company look bad. You should also refrain from linking information to your companies competitors, that’s just common sense. If you can digest all this information and put it towards your work then linking can have a positive impact and push you towards a more positive, successful and credible website or blogs.

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