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We still read online articles that refer to other sites and sources and don’t link to them. Sometimes, they spell out the other domain name, but don’t link through a hyperlink. What’s the user to do? Copy and paste the text into their browser to check out the site? What if the referenced article can’t be found on the homepage any longer?
It’s even less user-friendly when links are spelled out like this: authenticstorytelling(dot)net. Not only do web surfers have to copy and paste, they also have to delete and add characters to actually navigate to the site. While that might seem like a minor inconvenience, it is an inconvenience. Why not just add the link?
That might be their link strategy, but we believe that the best link strategies include outbound hyperlinks.
Sometimes we see hyperlinks, so the content is actually linked to something, but the link isn’t working correctly or in the most user-friendly manner. Sometimes that’s the case with links to social media networks. Instead of linking to the related Twitter account, the Twitter button links to Twitter.com. Yes, clicking that link will get the person to Twitter, but how to find the related account? Search might work. But why take the chance or make it less than convenient? The direct hyperlink is more user-friendly.
Sometimes links don’t work correctly. We’d suggest that after adding a hyperlink the link should be tested. For example, we test every link after publishing a post. Just to make sure it’s going where it’s supposed to.
Advantages of link strategies that include links
Some publishers might have good reasons not to link to a specific site. For example, when an article is about a harmful, malicious site. We wouldn’t link to it either. In general we believe that hyperlinks add value to our/your readers.
- Links make the web great and connect us to more information.
- Others might become aware of your site after you link to them. We review our referral traffic regularly and visit new sites that link to us.
Best practices for link strategies
Link though a hyperlink to other external (and internal) content when:
- you are quoting the content.
- it adds additional value to your readers.
- you are commenting on the content.
There are differing opinions on if you should set an outbound link to open in a new window or in the same window. With the growth in mobile traffic, we favor allowing the link to open in the same window. Opening new windows – especially on mobile devices – might be seen as an inconvenience by users.
In a nutshell, linking when it’s relevant can help your content, reputation and business.