You wrote a post, gave it a snappy title, tagged it with a category and keywords appropriate for the subject, checked and double checked spelling, added an image and alt text description, wrote the short summary that will show up in Google searches, and scheduled it to go live tomorrow morning when people are turning on their computers, drinking their coffee and reading their RSS feeds.
In other words, you’re all set to publish, right?
Wrong. You forgot one very important thing.
For a post to be ready to publish, it’s got to have links. Links are words that act as hypertext to take the reader to a different page on the net, and they’re what makes the internet the internet.
If you’re not including links in your posts, you’re missing out on big opportunities.
Why? Here are 8 essential reasons to include links in posts:
1. It’s a short-hand way of showing readers what you’re talking about. Say you’re writing about reading Harry Potter, watching the latest episode of “Mad Men” or what’s happening in the Middle East, you could link to Amazon, AMC and CNN respectively so readers can learn more about what you’re saying.
2. It’s good internet etiquette. Linking out is good manners. When you talk about something – see above – you’re making it easier for readers to find out more bout it rather than making them hunt it down for themselves. Don’t worry about sending them away from your site – they’ll come back, if you post consistently about topics they’re interested in.
3. It saves you from having to include definitions of things. Instead, you can just link to them – like I did when I linked to the World Wide Web Consortium definition of hypertext earlier in this post.
4. It shows readers you’re part of the conversation. You might not have as many blog followers as Ree Drummond, aka, The Pioneer Woman. But if you read her blog about home on the range and are a frequent commenter, you could write a short post about a comment you left and link to it. Or write about something you read on The Pioneer Woman, link to it, and invite your own readers to tell you what they think. It’s all about the conversation.
5. If you know how to handle links, you can write link posts. Link posts are basically a list of links to material that’s related in some way and lives elsewhere online. Why write link posts? They’re a great standing feature – my Friday recommended reading for writers and Saturday blogathon recap posts are essentially link posts. They’re a quick and easy way to come up with a post on a day when you have other things going on.
6. It drives traffic to your older posts. If you’ve had a recent bump in traffic or subscribers to your RSS feed, those new readers have missed all the great content you’ve already written. When you write about a subject that you’ve done previous posts on, link back to them. Penelope Trunk, the Brazen Careerist blogger, is a master at this.
7. It shows you understand what it means to curate content. Being able to curate content means being able to assemble information on a specific topic – news stories, blog posts, photographs or video – in a way that adds value to what’s already out there on the subject. Example – this post I did on the current controversy surrounding Greg Mortenson, the author of Three Cups of Tea. In the media business, content curation is fast becoming a skill reporters and editors are expected to have. Why not practice on your own blog?
8. It shows people you’re smart because you know where to find the good stuff. “Essentially the idea is that you find things that interest you and share them. If you become known as ‘always finding the good stuff’ people will eagerly follow you even if you don’t do much in the way of original content,” says at David Meerman Scott in this post on content creation at his blog, WebInkNow.
If you’re not sure how to add links to blog posts, here are a few resources: