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Monday, Dec. 22, 2008 at 11:28 am

Linking Matters

By Jeffrey Eisenberg
December 22nd, 2008

We write a lot about linking especially when it comes to persuading readers to take action.

There are a lot of objections to linking, especially linking off the website. The web & the HT in HTML is all about links.

I won’t go there today.

This blog post about New York Times columnist Frank Rich titled “Frank Rich: Why I Link” is worth reading.

Why has Rich embraced linking when his peers have not? “The theory was: Why not be as transparent as possible by showing sources, when we could?” he told me recently.

That’s a philosophy followed by much of the rest of the Internet; it’s the very foundation of blogging. But most newspapers — including their top columnists — haven’t signed on. read more here…

I would like to see more journalists linking to their sources, providing background and generally acting like if they knew their work was going to appear online. What do you think?

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Comments (12)

  1. I personally would prefer to see everything linked that has a link, yes. There is nothing quite as annoying to me as a reader as an url in the body copy that isn’t linked.

    Exceptions are when it’s an url for the host site (e.g. when referring to as an entity, not a link, and you’re reading on

    However, links are often considered to be endorsements. Using a bridge (“this is not an endorsed link, click through to view this content”) resolves most of the concerns that this raises.

    Another concern is when linking would make accessing special content questionable, inappropriate, or illegal content more accessible, which has been before the courts in the US (deep linking).

    A third concern would be future proofing the content. Dead links have other side effects, and in a news arena, it’s quite likely that many of the links will turn up dead in the short term, and more over time. A system of snapshots or archived documentation would be ideal, but a costly solution.

    Linking to available sources, however, seems sensible and an advancement of the interconnectedness. I would appreciate it as a reader, but recognize that there may be other considerations.

  2. Links are good, but the questions of where to place links and whether links should take a visitor away from your site remain.

    We’ve chosen to include related links at the end of articles, but those links always take a visitor to related content within our site.

    What do you think?

  3. Websites want to be a destination (as in final and only). In reality, sites are part of a larger conversation. Want to be part of the conversation? Don’t act like you’re the only source of information.

    If you want to be a stop along the way, you link.

  4. Thanks for your commend :

    This blog post about New York Times columnist Frank Rich titled “Frank Rich: Why I Link” is worth reading.

  5. I think the opposition to links is they really make copy look ugly with the underlining. Underlining traditionally in copy is for highlighting something, or underscoring it, but a link does that unnecesarrily.

    If links were dotted lines for instances, and everyone recognized them as such (css styles) I think the use of links would increase greatly.

  6. Another issue is whether you add a target to offsite links, to open the link in a new window or tab. Some say you should never do it, others seem less bothered. Any views?

  7. It’s great tip.

    Thank so much.

  8. Yes, Frank Rich:Why I link. it is cool and worthy reading. Good discussions.

  9. This blog post about New York Times columnist Frank Rich titled “Frank Rich: Why I Link” is worth reading.

  10. Of course linking matter like any advertising campaign linking should be one of your options too.

  11. Linking may seem bad since there are tons of factors to think about like….

    What if the website is junk?
    Do I want to give a vote to this website?
    Do I want to pass page rank to this website?

    and so on…

    But with the nofollow tag you can give links out and not have to worry!

  12. I find it irritating when a source is referred to or quoted, but not linked.

    Although I’ve read sources saying to not open links in a new tab, this I still prefer so the flow of reading is not interrupted, but the source is there to refer to afterward in context.

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Jeffrey Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark. You can friend him on Facebook.

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