Whenever writing a blog post, there are always going to be sources and events that shape how you view the subject you are writing on. Likewise, if you are trying to make your website Pinterest friendly, you may want to include relevant photos that you may likely pick up off of the Google or Bing image searches, or spruce up your post by embedding a video. Any time we are using information or multimedia from other sources, it is always important to give credit to the sources you are appropriating. This means providing hyperlinks. Providing hyperlinks to the sources you have borrowed from amounts to good etiquette, but is also helps to build networks, drive traffic to your site, and increase your credibility with your readership. This is something a few of the clients I coach have struggled with, so I image a lot of newbie marketers could use a quick lesson on the benefits of blogging etiquette.
WHEN TO PROVIDE HYPERLINKS
Hyperlinks are the most important part to blogging etiquette. When I am putting a post together, I always look up the topic I’m writing on in a search engine. Though I usually know more than enough about a given topic to write a post, I always want to keep up on the latest information so that my posts are current. Likewise, I sometimes want to use statistics to back up some of the observations I’m making. If I don’t have time to create a graphic that is suited to my post, I might borrow an image from a search engine. If I find some current information, stats, or images that are valuable enough to include in a post, I always make sure that I provide a hyperlink to the source I am borrowing from. This practice has five key benefits.
1: HONESTY AND INTEGRITY. Providing hyperlinks shows your readers that you are honest, and that you have integrity. This is important for a couple of reasons. Firstly, you do not want to take credit for somebody else’s research or opinions and providing the hyperlink shows your readers that you give credit to the sources from which you borrow. By doing this, your readers see that you are honest and ethical and therefore are more trusting of you and what you are saying. This helps to improves the quality of your brand.
2: CREDIBILITY. When reading through blog posts, it is hard to determine if somebody’s opinions should be taken seriously. If somebody writes a thousand-word post and doesn’t provide a hyperlink or any references to other sources, how does the reader know whether or not to trust the source? By providing hyperlinks, the reader can see that you’ve done research, and they can check on those sources themselves if they wish to read more about a given topic because you’ve provided hyperlinks to other articles. This shows that you have done research and that your opinions are rooted in critical thinking. Again, this encourages your readers to trust you, which in turn improves your brand.
3: NETWORKING. Whenever you provide a hyperlink to another site, the person hosting that site will see that you’ve provided a hyperlink to them, usually through the Word Press comments section. They may also see your website pop up in their analytics if they have gotten any referral traffic from your site. This is a great way to build networks as the other blogger may contact you to thank you for hyper-linking back to their site and driving traffic to them. This is a great time to offer to trade guest posts, so that you can send them some of your traffic, and they can send you some theirs. This may not happen often, but the clients I coach who have a small-scale model have this sort of engagement a half a dozen times a year or slightly more in several cases. Each time they trade off guest posts, they see a spike in traffic, and they usually able to add a few e-mails to their autoresponder list. Over the course of five years, small incremental increases build up to significant numbers, and because some readers are being recommended to your site by a blogger they trust, they are more likely to lend credibility to your name, again improving your brand.
4: READER FRIENDLY. Providing hyperlinks can also enhance your readers experience. Giving them immediate access to sources and other articles that help them find the information they are looking for and encourage them to see your blog as a place where all such information is aggregated and easily accessible. By giving them these resources, you make your blog more valuable to them. Also, including images and videos that are related gives your readers different ways to consume the information you are communicating, so people who prefer different ways to take in learning methods will have choices.
5: SELF HELP. Hyperlinks can also be a great way to promote yourself. A visitor may have come across your site after looking up a topic on a given subject, or may have been referred by another site. They therefore may not be familiar with what you do. If your article has hyperlinks to related articles that you’ve previously posted, it will allow new visitors to get a look at your body or work and increase your page views. When doing this, always be sure to make sure the hyperlinks are related to what you are talking about. If, for instance, you are writing a blog post about how to use Twitter more effectively, you don’t want to just randomly throw in a hyperlink to an article about monetizing your blog through the Amazon affiliate program, unless it is related.
THINGS TO AVOID
You must always be careful to use discretion when you are providing hyperlinks. First, you want to make sure that the sources you are hyper-linking to are credible sources. You don’t want to provide links to sites that have an overt political bias, or accidently hyperlink to a satirical news site. This can blow your credibility out of the water, though if you readership has a political bias, it might be helpful to appeal to that bias. Likewise, you want to make sure that the don’t hyperlink to sites dedicated to revenue generation. This means sites with excessive ads, or sales pitches, or sites that feature gambling. You want your reader to trust that you are sending them to quality sites. Likewise, you want to be sure your hyperlinks send your readers to sites that are work friendly, meaning that there is no violence or sexually explicit material. This may not only hurt your search engine ranking, but given that a lot of internet users access the internet at work, you don’t want them to think that they can’t trust that your site will be work friendly, otherwise they may not visit your site as often. Also avoid clutter. Don’t provide too many hyperlinks. You don’t want all of your text to be underlined in blue. Use your best judgment in this regard. Likewise, you will want to avoid putting the URL in your text. Instead, write a summary of whatever information you are referencing, and hyperlink those words. Inserting the URL into the text not only looks sloppy, but it might lead the visitor to think that you don’t know how to hyperlink your text and therefore dilute your credibility. Most importantly, always make sure that the hyperlink opens in a new tab. There are two reasons for this. One reason is that you do not want to take your readers off your page as they may not return. The other reason is that when search engines are indexing your page, they may leave your page when they hit the hyperlink and therefore not index your entire article, which could hurt your search engine ranking. Always make sure the link opens in a new tab.
Providing hyperlinks is a great way to build trust with your readers as it demonstrates your honestly, and your thorough research methods. It also helps you to make connections with other people in your field, and enhances the reading experience for your visitors. This is a practice that is mutually beneficial to all those involved, so be sure to include hyperlinks to any information, stats, or images you borrow. As for videos, if you are embedding them into your page, it will already provide your readers with all the information they need to find the source, but always be sure to contextualize the video in the preceding text. Practice this piece of blogging etiquete, and readers will be more trusting of your brand, and hopefully it will help to increase traffic as well.
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