As many online writers know, using hyperlinks within an article can be incredibly helpful for both themselves and their audiences. Hyperlinks that lead readers to more information about the topic you are discussing can shorten the amount of time they have to spend researching the subject. Moreover, a hyperlink leading to other articles written by the author can lead to increased revenue for the writer if the reader clicks it. Yet while the use of hyperlinks in articles can be advantageous for these reasons, putting too many of them within a paragraph or the entire piece can work against you. Here are two reasons why.
1. It is distracting.
As many online readers may tell you, reading an article that has a bunch of underlined blue words that break up the continuity of the black text diverts attention away from the ideas being conveyed by the author. Thus if a writer prepares an article about the benefits of spinach that includes four to five hyperlinks per paragraph, the reader’s ability to understand how the green vegetable contributes to wellness can be greatly impaired by the visually distracting reality of the hyperlink. Oftentimes, the mind has to train itself to ignore the highlighted text in order to process the information. If these efforts become too taxing on the reader, she or he may quit reading your article. As indicated by an article on this subject published by eAdvisor, too many hyperlinks can cause the reader to lose interest.
2. It offends people who interpret your links as a marketing ploy.
Many people go online and read articles in an attempt to quickly gain the information they need regarding a specific topic. Yet when they stumble upon articles of 400-to-500 words that include 10 to 20 hyperlinks, they may conclude that the author is not interested in helping them gain the data they are looking for. Rather, the reader may think that the writer is primarily concerned about marketing a product or service that has little to do with the subject they claim to address. And even if the hyperlinks are directly related to the subject the writer is discussing, too many of them still suggest that the author is attempting to sell something or promote their own work.
While overusing hyperlinks can be distracting and/or offend a writer’s audience, using them strategically can be advantageous. For example, Yahoo! Contributor Lyn Lomasi wrote a great article entitled “Maximizing Upfront Payments at Yahoo! Contributor Network.” In it, she gave readers several helpful tips and strategies to maximize their upfront offers for articles. One of her tips included learning how to optimize content for the web, and she included a link to “The Yahoo! Style Guide” so writers could get tips on how to write for an online audience. Additionally, Lomasi included three links at the very bottom of the article that were related to the subject she’d been discussing throughout her piece: how to make money through the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Thus rather than self-promoting her work throughout the article with a bunch of distracting links, she was able to still market herself without impairing the reader’s ability to dissect her article.
Clearly, using hyperlinks in an article can be advantageous for writers and readers. It is the overuse of them that can annoy your reader and even cause her or him to stop perusing your work. Because this is the case, I encourage writers to use hyperlinks that are relevant to the subject matter of the article without overwhelming the reader with a plethora of fluff. Good luck!
Jocelyn Crawley holds B.A.’s in English and Religious Studies. Her work has appeared in Jerry Jazz Musician, Nailpolish Stories, Visceral Uterus, Dead Beats, Four and Twenty and Haggard and Halloo. Other stories are forthcoming in Faces of Feminism and Calliope.
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