One of the biggest differences between reading something in print and reading something online is the presence of clickable links, often found within the text. Let’s explore some of the many benefits of including clickable links in your blog posts, as well as a few potential drawbacks.
Clickable links are an act of humility
Rather than pretending you have all of the information and the final say on the topic about which you are writing, clickable links open up the conversation. They point readers to other voices on the subject. These links are also the perfect way to give credit where credit is due. Including links to your sources lets your readers know you’ve done your homework as well as where you got your information. This lends credibility to your work. It also helps readers dive deeper into the topic you are writing about.
Google rewards you for linking to other sites
The key thing here is that those pages you link to should be both credible and directly related to your post. You are helping readers get the information they are looking for, more easily. Because Google is all about improving the usability of the web, you get a bump in your SEO.
You can increase page views on your own website
When you have posts on your site that relate to the one you are writing, you can link to them within the content of your post. You can also list them at the bottom of your post as “related articles.” By doing this, you can keep readers on your site longer. They may even decide that what you’re writing is something they would like to see more of. Clickable links could lead to more subscriptions to your blog.
They are convenient for your readers
Readers can easily use clickable links to move from one page to another within your site. This can also be a disadvantage when done wrong. Readers can just as easily click off of your site, whether it’s to another website or even your own social media pages that you’ve linked to. By including these, you risk your reader clicking off of your page and getting lost in the social media vortex. You can reduce losing your reader completely by coding the link to open in a new tab. This way they still have easy access to what they were reading on your site.
You can help people heed your call to action
We can get busy, time-pressed, and sometimes, just plain lazy. So we need a little help. When a blog post encourages us to “subscribe” we need to be able to do this easily. That means turning the word, “subscribe” into a clickable link that immediately brings readers to a subscription form they can quickly fill out.
How to link properly
Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you click on a link on a web page, the linked item opens in a new window in your browser? Other times the linked item opens in the same window you are currently in. In technical terms, this is referred to as the link target. Website development best practices are that links leading to external websites (a website separate from your own) should open in a new browser window (or tab), and links to pages on your own website should open in the same tab. This is so that users who are browsing your website don’t end up with numerous open tabs with all the pages of your website, and if they do leave your website to go to your external link, they don’t lose the window where your site was open, allowing them to go back and browse your site again when they close the external link window.
If you are using a smart content editor, like the one that comes with WordPress, you can select the option to have the link open in a new tab.
An argument against clickable links
Despite so many great reasons to include clickable links in your blog posts, not everyone is sold on the idea. Nicholas Carr, the author of New York Times Bestseller and 2011 Pulitzer Prize Finalist, “The Shallows,” is perhaps the most vocal opponent to them. He says that the colour change and the underlining which classically denote a clickable link often distract readers. Because hyperlinks are the modern, high-tech form of a footnote, Carr advocates relocating links to the footer of your article where the information would have been 30 years ago. While some people think he is prehistoric in his thinking, others agree that there is a point to what he is saying.
To link, or not to link?
Whether or not you include clickable links in your content is something you can decide. If you’re not sure which choice is most compatible with your readers and your message, it’s a good idea to get help from a knowledgeable professional.