Think Before You Link

Good friends come to town. You want to show them around. There are so many options, but they have limited time. You consider your choices before making them. Only the best sights for your friends.

That’s the approach you should take to linking your posts. Only the best for your readers. Before you add any link, stop to think about it:

  • Does this link clarify what I’m saying here? If the answer is yes, link. If it’s not, don’t. (Drop it, or put it at the end of the post.)
  • Have my readers seen this link 10 times already? If so then drop it or find another. You’ll gain credibility as a leader.
  • Is this information they will care about? Would you want to go there, if you were the reader? If not, don’t link. Readers are counting on you to value their time.
  • If the link does belong, label the link and credit the writer. Don’t just put a nebulous click here. Readers want to know where they’re going before they go there.
  • Will this link take my readers away forever? You wrote a post filled with good information. Check the link to make sure that readers can get back. If it’s near a key point, maybe you shouldn’t interrupt things. The link might work better at the post’s end.

Keep in mind that too many links make us lose concentration. We literally stop reading completely.

Think before you link. Readers might not know you’re performing this service. But they’ll know they get more for their time when they read you.

–ME “Liz” Strauss

Related articles:
Checklist for Linking to Quality Blogs
Think Before You Intra-link
Intra-Linking as Promotion


  1. says

    Well, I hate to read this as I’m not the world’s best linker.

    I’ll try to put more of them at the end, label them all and see if I can do a better job, but…..

    ” If I wanted a perfect document I’d write a book and hire an editor ! “, is what I’m thinking, although I don’t aim that at you, but at the grammar , punctuation and spelling police who cruise around and critique blogs, instead of writing their own.

    However I see your point and promise to try to do a better job.

    The points you make are ALL worthy of a post of their own and I appreciate the education.

  2. says

    Don’t worry we’re not looking for perfection here, we’re looking for what serves your readers. If your readers don’t care about something than please don’t listen to me.

    Thanks for your encouragment about the post, but remember. It’s called Think before You Link not Change the Way You Do Everything. My job is to help to make this easier and work better not to make you do things the way that I would do.

  3. says

    I’m certainly not bashing your post, as it hits me very squarely, I’m just looking for a way around you making me act responsibly and do a good job.

    My linking skills are horrendous and I know it, but I have the unique ability to put off forever what I don’t want to do. It’s just harder when people like you tell me the truth and make me accountable. 😉

    Again, your post is da stuff ! I’m just trying to avoid accountability.

  4. says

    I didn’t think you were post bashing, though that does make a fun image. (Honey, the man’s out here bashing the post again. :) ) How about you easing into it and only doing one little thing.

    What is it about your linking that’s so bad. Do you do too much? too little? too sloppy? too little attention to the links? What do you mean by bad?

  5. says

    That’s where the trust factor comes in from your readers and you knowing your audience – hopefully because your audeince is likeminded the links you place are one’s they’ll like.

    Yep, the 10 times thing is another factor – example: when Google Blog Search and Google Talk came out … I sit down to blog about it, check my rss feeder and see that it has been written to death already. No point re-hasing it all.

    At the end of the day, I only place a link if I think I can’t do justice to a post with only a simple pull-out quote and think the reader would like to expand on my post.

  6. says

    Hi again,
    Thanks for reminding me of what I was thinking when I wrote the post. Choosing links is a bit like being a movie critic. If you develop a relationship with your readers, they will come to know the kind of links you choose and will know whether to follow them. Some will like your work and not your links. Some will like you for your links. Some will like both.

  7. says

    Hey Liz,

    By bad I mean I’m not as good as I should be at how and where I link.

    For example, I sometimes link with the first word on my post. That gives my readers a way out and an opportunity to leave without having gotten all that I’m trying to convey.

    I also have trouble deciding which link to feature when a post is linked from person-to-person-to-person, etc.

    I’m getting better with help from all those in the link-know.

    Thanks !

  8. says

    Sounds like you’re thinking about it, which is the key. If you know why you’re linking, then you’re going to make better links. But then you knew that. Darren at Problogger has a post on this today. He added to the list to be sure to read what you link to. That’s one I forgot. So I’m not the linkmaster yet. Darren is. :)

  9. says

    I disagree with you a little bit – minor “yeah, but” stuff.

    First, I don’t concern myself at all if a link takes you away forever. I cannot be all things to all people, and I don’t even try. If a particular reader didn’t find my take interesting enough to come back.. oh well. Can’t please everyone.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “seen it 10 times already”. If I have something to add, or to disagree with, what difference does it make how many times they’ve seen it? The real question is “do I have anything fresh to say about this?”. If not, I’m not going to say anything at all about it, except maybe as an aside in some related post.

    A blog that just points me to other links isn’t one I’ll read unless the blogger is extraordinarily clever at rooting out content I’d never find by myself. Even then I probably won’t read it often.

  10. says


    You’re the second one who’s brought up the “takes you away forever” thing. Someone did over at problogger for the opposite reasons–that we should care for our readers and send them off freely. I agree with you both.

    I’m just all about thinking things through before you do anything–some folks don’t know they indiscriminately link.

    Sounds like you’ve got that covered. :)

    You make a good point about the “ten times already” thing too. If you’re adding new information to the conversation, what I said sure doesn’t apply. I agree there too.

    A blog that just points me to other links . . . is also something I won’t stop to read.

    Hope to see you again. You add finer insights to the conversation.

  11. SpiderMonkey says

    This kind of thing should form part of a blogger’s license test, required before you can have and operate a blog. (I’m obviously joking, but kinda serious. If more people took the time to think about signal and noise, things like Technorati and tagging would be a whole lot more useful. Thinking of that, maybe you can write a sequel about thinking before you tag!)

  12. says

    Hi SpiderMonkey,
    Thanks for coming and for the kind words about my post.
    A think before you tag post. You know what, SpiderMonkey, I think you’re right. I’m going to do that. You look for it.
    Liz :)

  13. says

    For #2, how do we know if the readers has seen the links for 10 times?

    I think we could post any useful articles without notice the post is already had by others. As long as it is useful and we have our own opinion,….it is god to post. :)

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