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« Get Your Audience Involved Through Their Emotions | Main | Separate Yourself From Everyone Else »

Using Relevant Linking Throughout Your Web Site

One of the greatest legacies of the Internet is the ability to link one document to another.  Document linking is a tremendously powerful feature that has stood the test of time.  Document linking is simple and highly intuitive.

Document linking is one of the primary reasons that world wide web exploded back in the 1990s. You can lead your users from one piece of interesting content to another.  Linking is also a significant factor in the search engine optimization. Each time another web site links to your web site it is like a vote is being cast. The more links you have to your web site from other relevant web sites the higher the probability you will enjoy a higher search engine ranking.

Every web site owner should take the time to consider their own linking strategy especially at the individual page level.

Are you using internal links on your web site?
Internal links connect your users with relevant content on your web site. Is there information on one page of your web site that can be linked to another page of your web site? Wikipedia is a great example of a web site that uses good internal linking.


Link to Relevant Information
Think of linking as a way to enhance the content on your web site. Link to information that will be useful to your web site user. You can use internal and external linking to give additional information.  When you make use of linking within your web pages be sure to use descriptive text links. Descriptive link looks like this: "Learn More About Usability" versus the classic generic link "Click Here." Let the user know what they are clicking on.

The Fear of Linking Elsewhere
Some web site owners are hesitant to link to external web sites. Their hesitation comes from not wanting to have users leave their web site.  It is an understandable predicament.  After years of going back and forth on the issue I've decided that external linking is a good thing.  It is beneficial to link to other web sites that provide supporting information to your own content. One example is using a link to maps.google.com or mapquest.com to supplement driving directions on an event web site. If you are linking to an external web site there is a good chance that your users will recognize the value of information you are providing them and return to the source.

Another recommendation to linking to external web sites is using a new browser window.  When the user clicks on an external link a new browser window opens leaving your web site in the background. A simple way to open a new windows is by using the "underscore blank tag" in your document link.

Don't Over Link
It is possible to over link within some of your individual web pages. If you are using links within a text rich document be cognizant that your linking doesn't interfere with the users ability to get through the information. If you have too many links it is like trying to jump mental hurdles. Try to strike a balance between the ability to quickly read through a document and giving high quality relevant links.

Thank You, Dr. Obvious!
Some people might think that all the information presented above is blatantly obvious and they would be correct. Unfortunately there are far too many web sites that don't use enough linking within their own web pages.  With all the bells and whistles web developers have it is easy to forget some of the simplest things can bring the biggest impact.

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