Reigning in your linkspam

Or, more specifically, how I decided to reign in mine.

Hyperlinks are the fundimental element of the World Wide Web. They’ve been in it from the start, and without them, well, it wouldn’t be a web, would it?

Search engines are rather keen on links, and so bloggers are often guilty of trying to improve their ranking simply by adding more links. I’ve done it, for example with my posts ‘Keeping your finger…’ or ‘Secret Weapon 1’. Creating all those links is a bit of a pain, and the end result ultimately confuses the reader. The purpose of a link, afterall, is for further expansion on a topic. Linking when there’s no useful information at the destination is of little use to everyone who reads your stuff, and linking to the same page every time you mention a keyword is even worse. If you mentioned ‘Adobe’ 3 times, and each mention was made into a link it’s logical, but not obvious to assume they all link to the same page. It’d be worse if they all linked to different pages. (WAI does have a practical use afterall)

So, in order to do things a little better, here’s my rules for linking;

  • Don’t link to the same page more than once in a post.
  • Only link to pages with relivant information, no more linking to Adobe every time you mention their name.
  • Link at the first logical mention of the subject.

The first two are Web Accessibility common sense, and the third is really preference. I find that other blogs tend to link at the earliest opportunity, and therefore this is where I expect links to be. Making things easy to read is as much meeting readers’ expectations as it is the wording. Professional News and Corporate websites tend to invert this rule, because their purpose is to keep you reading their stuff for as long as possible, and not go following links off half-way through reading.