Mar 15, 2006

To link or not to link

What makes the World Wide Web such an efficient medium for dispersing information is its non-linear organisation. Unlike a book that you read from one end to end, a web page contains hyperlinks that can transport you from page to page (or indeed, from site to site), thus giving the reader the control of what to read and what to skip. That is good for the reader; not that good for the publisher.

Granted, the quantity and the quality of the hyperlinks in a page is a key factor that determines the quality of the page as a whole. As a reader, you search for something on an engine, find a page and go there. You run through the first few paragraphs and finally find that what you exactly were looking for is not there. What do you do? Yes, you click. You find the nearest hyperlink that you think will lead you to nirvana and you dump the site, just like that.

Now see this from the publisher's perspective. He has been spending hard cash to get you to his site using all the tricks in the book - search engine marketing, search engine optimisation, referral programs and what not. He doesn't want you to leave the site that soon; not before you have taken a look or even better, clicked at some of his advertisers, or browse other articles which drives up his pageview stats, a valuable information he needs to sell more advertising.

Frankly, he doesn't want to put any external links at all on his site. But that is not how the Web is designed to work. If your reader doesn't find quality links, you can be hundred percent sure that she doesn't think it is worth visiting again. On the other hand, putting too many will increase the probability of driving away the reader even before the page has fully loaded.

The solution here, as it is for most things in life, is a trade-off. Keep those links that you think will provide value to the reader, and you can be sure that the reader will reciprocate the feeling by visiting again. Happy linking!

1 comment:

HyperAxe said...

I couldn't agree more. You really gave a useful advice here. Thanks! :o)