What Text to Link?

It doesn’t matter how long the Internet has been around anymore… the argument of what makes a good link continues. Often when I write a blog post and want to reference another blog, site, resource… sometimes, I struggle to figure out what text to use as the link and what it should say. Plus, I try to avoid having too many links or else the reader becomes overwhelmed.

For instance, if I reference an article from an ezine — here’s what I’d write:
Are your salespeople trusted advisors? “What Trusted Advisors Do that Others Don’t” from Professional Services Journal describes what it takes to be a trusted advisor and why you would want them in your organization.

So do I link to the article AND the newsletter? It’s not unusual for me to have more content and links in the same entry. Is it overkill to refer to both the article and resource? There are no right answers or rules of thumb.

When thinking about what text to link, consider the following:

  1. Does the linked text tell your reader what to expect? “Click here” is lousy. While it tells people what to do, scanners won’t know what it is and screen readers will say “Click here,” but a person with a visual impairment won’t know what that means.
  2. The number of links used (to avoid overwhelming the reader or not giving enough links because you worry they’ll leave your site).
  3. Does the link need to be spelled out? What if people print the article and discover they want to visit the link? An underline or bolded link won’t tell you anything. Not everyone knows they can change their print settings to print URLs. Even those who do might forget to turn on the option.

One reader commented that he thinks it’s better to underlink than overlink. You also have to watch for terms and references. Rather than explaining a tech term, linking to its definition might work better to avoid straying from the article’s point and making it longer. Of course, if your blog or website targets geeks, you can skip the link.

2 thoughts on “What Text to Link?”

  1. Meryl, this article showed up again in my Newsreader, so I gave it a second look.

    I think the link to the article and the publication is appropriate, and I would do the same.

    I visited the “What Trusted Advisors Do that Others Don’t” and noticed in the sidebar on the left that the link to your web site still uses your old branding with the ink blot.

    I think linking of words is appropriate when they are technical in nature, as this gives the reader an easy resource to consult if it is an unfamiliar term without providing unnecessary explanation in the body of the text for someone who is au fait with that term.

    I also agree that one should not over-link, as that can become overwhelming.


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