Distracted

Linking to Previous Posts: Helpful or Distracting?

I don’t link to previous posts all that often. I don’t like having too many links in my posts. Perhaps it’s because I’ve fallen foul of the “Wikipedia problem” once too many times.

Have you ever gone looking for a topic, only to start clicking links to view other articles and opening up an increasing number of tabs? By the time you’ve realised what’s happened, it’s half an hour or more since you started. Fun if you’re bored, but it’s not the best way to get things done.

No Need to Keep Explaining the Same Topics

I definitely see the benefit in linking to previous posts. If the same points keep coming up, you don’t want to keep explaining your stance on those points over and over again. Once you’ve made your case, you can link to that post whenever the topic comes up in future.

Of course, if you change your mind then you can always write a new post.

How Soon Do You Want to Send People Away?

If I’m reading a post and there are links quite early in the post, there are lots of links throughout, or single words are linked (such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and so on), it makes me wonder if the blogger cares whether I read to the end of the post I’m currently on.

It feels like I’m walking down a path, and someone keeps shouting at me, “Hey! Over here!” Now imagine that amplified half a dozen times – 5 or 6 different people on each side of the path, trying to drag me away from the path I’m on to distract me with something else.

How Many Links is Too Many?

Here’s an example of a post with a lot of links: 14 problems faced by internet marketers (and how you can overcome them) (Socialable)

I counted no less than seventeen different links throughout the content of that post. I think that’s far too many for a single article.

Perhaps this is a better way to do it: The Ultimate Guide To Blogging (The Digital Writer)

Aside from one link at the top, this is a HUGE post that contains absolutely no links in the content, although it does contain a couple of videos that sit nicely within the continuity of the post. However, at the end, there’s list of 22 bloggers, 11 blog posts, a repeat of the link at the top of the post, and half a dozen social links.

I think if you’re linking to more than 2 or 3 places in one post, it may be best to group all of your links together. The Digital Writer shows how it’s done!

Linking is OK – Just Don’t Disrupt Your Flow

By all means, write posts that are disruptive in the message they convey. But don’t disrupt the reader’s attention partway through your message. It’s like trying to write a blog post with TweetDeck open in the background. You can’t give it your full attention.

Discussion

Do you link to previous posts? In one blog post, how many links do you think is too many?

  • http://www.slymarketing.com Jens P. Berget

    Hi Ben,

    I absolutely agree. I usually add 2 – 3 links to previous posts, but in my mind, they won’t read those posts until they’re finished reading the post they’re currently reading.

    • http://www.quickblogtips.com/ Ben Barden

      Hi Jens :) I think keeping the number of links to a minimum is logical. Using too many links will just increase the likelihood of the reader abandoning the post halfway through.

  • http://inspiretothrive.com Lisa

    Interesting. I find I typically do 1-2 at tops. Unless I’m promoting or thanking other bloggers on my post. I also try to link back to one older post if it’s relevant as Google apparently likes that.

    • http://www.quickblogtips.com/ Ben Barden

      Hi Lisa :) If it’s a link love post then that’s understandable, they work a bit differently :) I’ve heard that while cross-linking your posts can be beneficial, too much cross-linking can have the opposite effect. Everything in moderation!

  • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

    Nice topic Ben, I use a WP plugin called SEO Smart Links. This automatically adds internal links based on keywords I’ve setup in the program. The amount of links is determined by the number of keywords used. I haven’t updated it in a while but I have changed certain keywords on posts to reduce the number of links it generates. It’s very convenient but can tend to over-link at times. It is very helpful when publishing a lot of guest posts though because there’s still SEO benefits to internal linking.

    • http://www.quickblogtips.com/ Ben Barden

      Hi Brian :) That plugin sounds pretty handy. I guess a link or two can’t hurt. Overlinking isn’t a great tactic, but a little bit of linking might be acceptable :)

      • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

        Actually Ben, I guess there’s a risk to using the plugin. I’ve disabled it just in case. I hope it’s alright to leave this link: http://seobraintrust.com/seo-smart-links-penalty/

        • http://www.quickblogtips.com/ Ben Barden

          Thanks for the tip Brian – it’s fine to leave the link :) I appreciate the update.

  • http://retroprogramming.com John

    A few days ago I abandoned reading a post because every sentence had one or two links and was too difficult to read!

    If I have a series of posts where each post builds on the previous I link to the previous posts in the first paragraph. Occasionally I have a list post with a link in each section. Otherwise I try to keep links at the end of the post where the reader will be wondering what to read next :-)

    • http://www.quickblogtips.com/ Ben Barden

      Hi John :) Keeping links to the end of the post reduces the distractions and allows the reader to get to the end of the post. In some cases it is handy to have links throughout the post, but I don’t like to do it too often.