[Robot Wisdom home page]
Adding value to your links
Jorn Barger 16 May 1999
An average link on an average webpage has a pretty low average value.
Normally, that link will consist of just a few words describing the target page (or pages), often just copying the 'clever' (but undescriptive) title that the site's own author gave it.
There's a huge range of things that you can do to increase the value of your links, however:
- Make the descriptions more descriptive. Tell your visitors precisely what they'll find when they click the link.
- Express your own opinion. What adjective best summarises your feeling about the target? (Don't gloss over your doubts, either. Your readers will probably share them.)
- Extract some pull quotes that capture the best the page has to offer. Nothing 'sells' an article better than a sample of how good it is.
- If the target is an image, clip the best (approximately) 200*200 region of the image and offer it with the link. Occasional small graphics make any page look nicer.
- If the target offers a list of items (ten great ideas, five best songs, etc), extract the list. (Editors have been conditioned to play coy, as a way of drawing in readers. This backfires on the Web.)
- Don't just link to the top page of a site-- pick the best page. Readers in a hurry will be grateful, readers at leisure can find the rest on their own.
- Have you checked for similar pages that do the same job even better? Look at them all and link only the best.
- If a version-for-printing is offered, link to that. It will load faster and is usually easier to read, without all the distracting side-columns.
- Warn about formatting oddities. Does it take a long time to load? Does it require Java or RealPlayer? Are there annoying interstitial pop-ups?
- Choose the most descriptive word (or three) within your long description to highlight as anchor-text. Lots of underlined-blue is hard to read, so limit it to a word or two that describes what the page is: "essay", "hotlist"; or what it's about: "tutorial on animation".
- Offering the visible URL as the link-text has the advantages of showing where the target site is, what sort of file is being linked (html, txt, ram), where it fits in the host site's hierarchy, whether the URL includes a date, etc.
(These are mostly lessons learned while linking a dozen-plus articles a day for the last year and a half, in my weblog.)
Best and worst of Web design
Elsewhere: No weak links
adding value :
open content :
autobiographical pages :
timeline of hypertext
topical portal :
dense-content faq :
annotated lit :
random-access lit-summary :
poetry sampler :
gossipy history :
Before you leave this site: Be sure you've checked out Jorn's
weblog which offers daily
updates on the best of the Web-- news etc, plus new pages on this site.
See also the overview
of the hundreds of pages of original content offered here, and the offer for
a printed version of the site.
Hosting provided by instinct.org.
Content may be copied under Open Web Content License.