Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Where are your links?

It's funny the things that suddenly strike you when you are doing something else.

Today I was giving a talk to a non-genealogy group entitled "Share your stories in small bites - Write a blog" when a question about hyperlinks from an audience member made me think about one of the advantages of the blogging medium that many bloggers do not appear to use effectively.

I love the blogging medium because it allows me to add external links to other sites or blogs where readers can go for further information or clarification, to check on a source or find out more about a person mentioned in a post. When writing an article for printed media I miss being able to add hyperlinks to my text.

When I started blogging I tried to develop a habit of embedding a few pertinent links in each of my posts. Sometimes I fail dismally (especially when I am in a hurry) but I endeavour to add meaningful links to most of my posts.

Tonight, as I was catching up on blog reading in Inoreader, I took particular note of the use of links in the posts I read and was surprised at the opportunities missed by many bloggers to add value to their posts with hyperlinks.

There were several place names mentioned in the posts I read, if these had been linked to articles with further information about the places then readers who didn't have a clue about the place, its location or history could have followed the links to find that information. I came across instances of  meaningless (to me and maybe others) acronyms being used; hyperlinks to information on what the random letters meant would have helped ignorant people like me. Many people were named in the posts, most of these were strangers to me, links to their blogs, profiles on social media or entries in a genealogy databases would perhaps have told me if they were dead or alive and where in the world they were situated. And then there was the jargon, I and many blog readers are not a walking dictionaries. If you use subject specific terminology please consider adding a link to a definition or explanation to help us understand.
Adding value to your posts with hyperlinks slows down the blogging process; it takes time to seek and find appropriate links but it is worth the effort.
A slide from today's presentation 
Today I told the group of potential bloggers to think of their audiences and then put themselves in those readers' shoes. Our blogs reach audiences in all corners of the globe and our readers have cultural differences and a range of life experiences.

Do you make it easy for your readers to get full value from your writing by adding pertinent hyperlinks to your posts?


12 comments:

Jill Ball said...

Following on from this I am taking two actions. I am adding a slide on the importance of hyperlinks to my Beaut Blogs presentation and I am adding the use of links in posts to the criteria I use to select the shortlist for the Inside History Magazine Top 50 Genealogy Blogs.

Jackie van Bergen said...

Great post after a great presentation. What an enthusiastic audience - I'm sure we'll have a few new bloggers soon.

Jana Last said...

Jill,

Oh! This is a great reminder. I wonder if I've been guilty of leaving out links in my blog posts.

I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2014/03/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-march-14.html

Have a wonderful weekend!

Jill Ball said...

Thanks for the compliment, Jana

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

I read this story a few days ago Jill and it's been bobbing around in my mind ever since. I hope you don't mind that I'll be posting my strategies for linking -acknowledging your inspiration.

Jill Ball said...

Don't mind at all, Pauleen. I'll watch out for your post.

KerrieAnne Christian said...

Jill - like you, I am a great believer in adding hyperlinks to add value to my posts - to me by linking to the work of others you are also acknowledging the value of their work - so I would encourage others to do so - I do wonder if some people who are less experienced are less confident in adding hyperlinks ? cheers Kerrie Anne

Kerryn Taylor said...

I also try to use hyperlinks in my blog as I usually open them in others blogs when reading. Time may not always permit but I find it certainly adds a lot more information to a post.

Mike Israel said...

Good point Jill, I too am quite slack when it comes to embedding links in my posts, mainly due to time. I wish the blogging platforms would build in a features that searches your blog for proper nouns and suggests links for you to include automatically. Now that would be cool. Perhaps it could also keep a list of Frequently Used Links that you could easily choose

Shelley Crawford said...

One of the reasons I love my blogging software (Open Live Writer) is that when you create a hyperlink you can choose if you want the display words to automatically use the same hyperlink next time you type them. It's link an auto-correct for adding hyperlinks. Now I don't have to remember to add a hyperlink when I mention Trove, or GeniAus, for example. ;-)

Jill Ball said...

I installed Open Live Writer and then went on holidays and got sick. Perhaps it's time to embrace it again.

Shauna Hicks said...

I've always tried to do meaningful links in blog posts but recently I was reminded to check for broken links and I was appalled at how many broken links there are in my blog posts. Sometimes it is where a government website has changed (archives and libraries) or conferences/events that have been and gone and so on. So I have been sitting here pondering whether I should cut back on links as it has taken me hours and still more to go to look at all my broken links. I agree that links are meaningful, my position hasn't changed, but how to balance that with websites that keep changing. Now I'm in two minds again since reading your post.

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